ESPO // AUSTIN LEE // JULIAN WASSER // MARK RYDEN // MATT LEINES // RUN THE JEWELS // ERIK PARKER
FEBRUARY 2016, n181
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RUN THE JEWELS //
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ISSUE 181 / FEBRUARY 2016
MATT LEINES IN BROOKLYN
INFLUENCES MARK RYDEN’S LIFE IN BRONZE
STEPHEN “ESPO” POWERS
Photo by Jonathan Dorado for the Brooklyn Museum
RUN THE JEWELS
PROFILE DAVID IRELAND AT 500 CAPP STREET
FASHION FREDA SALVADOR
BUILDING THE NEW VIEW
DESIGN ALLISTER LEE
ERIK PARKER’S UNDERTOW
PICTURE BOOK LUCAS FOGLIA
BACK TO THE GOOD STUFF
OUT OF THEIR HANDS
120 SIEBEN ON LIFE SHARING IS CARING
104 TRAVEL INSIDER SMALL BUSINESS AROUND THE USA
108 IN SESSION SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS
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JUXTAPOZ ISSN #1077-8411 FEBRUARY 2016 VOLUME 23, NUMBER 2 Published monthly by High Speed Productions, Inc., 1303 Underwood Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124–3308. © 2016 High Speed Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in USA. Juxtapoz is a registered trademark of High Speed Productions, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the author. All rights reserved on entire contents. Advertising inquiries should be directed to: email@example.com. Subscriptions: US, $29.99 (one year, 12 issues) or $75.00 (12 issues, first class, US only); Canada, $75.00; Foreign, $80.00 per year. Single copy: US, $6.99; Canada, $6.99. Subscription rates given represent standard rate and should not be confused with special subscription ofers advertised in the magazine. Periodicals Postage Paid at San Francisco, CA, and at additional mailing oices. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 0960055. Change of address: Allow six weeks advance notice and send old address label along with your new address. Postmaster: Send change of address to: Juxtapoz, PO Box 884570, San Francisco, CA 94188–4570. The publishers would like to thank everyone who has furnished information and materials for this issue. Unless otherwise noted, artists featured in Juxtapoz retain copyright to their work. Every efort has been made to reach copyright owners or their representatives. The publisher will be pleased to correct any mistakes or omissions in our next issue. Juxtapoz welcomes editorial submissions; however, return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts, art, drawings, and photographic materials if they are to be returned. No responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All letters will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and subject to Juxtapoz’ right to edit and comment editorially. Juxtapoz Is Published by High Speed Productions, Inc. 415–822–3083 email to: firstname.lastname@example.org juxtapoz.com
Cover art by Stephen “ESPO” Powers Created exclusively for Juxtapoz 2016
E D I TO R ’ S L E T T E R
ISSUE NO 181 “IN THE CASE OF ICY SIGNS, FINDING THE HELP IS THE BEST PART.” —Stephen “ESPO” Powers I think I speak for most of us who make the annual trip (and I’m quite sure I wrote the exact same thing in years prior), but a week in Miami during Art Basel puts you in need of a cleanse. I’m not talking about a green juice and personal trainer appointment, more of a need for a spiritual cleanse— an artistic revival that reminds you of why you love of all this stuf in the first place. As soon as the oice reopened after Miami, ESPO set us straight. It would be disingenuous if I didn’t mention that Stephen “ESPO” Powers has long been one of my favorite artists. He holds a stand-alone position in the world we deem “fine art.” Workhorse and wordsmith, vintage and futurist, he illuminates the mundane with witty proclamations while transforming the ancient artform of sign painting into immersive exhibits and playful public art. Amazingly, Powers has somehow found the balance of emotional wit and humor in a way that only the best authors do (Kurt Vonnegut and Miranda July come to mind, even Barbara Kruger). He’s team captain of the skilled ICY SIGNS crew, and currently taking over the fifth ﬂoor of the Brooklyn Museum for the long-awaited, site-specific installation, Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull). The entire project, both a
collaborative efort and product of his genius as an artist, is the active ingredient in this necessary artistic cleanse. Amongst the stacks and stacks of paintings, there is a studio practice on display, teamwork in the presentation, a community-minded goal, and an ode to the old times without churning out retread themes. It’s new and fresh while honoring the past, and if there was ever blue-collar fine art, this is it—an ideal cleanse of the art soul. Powers has shown in museums before, done massive public art projects in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, been the subject of a brilliant documentary, and written one of the great books of underground art, The Art of Getting Over, which set the standard for what graiti had become by 1999. Now, as his exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum reminds us, the most inﬂuential artists of our generation lead and explore the possibilities of their message and craft. With a team of artisans on his side, we can’t wait to share the upcoming decades of the unique universe of ESPO. Enjoy #181
Portrait by Bryan Derballa
Enter Camilla d’Errico’s world of Pop Surrealism “ . . . a bright and insightful look into Camilla’s artistic mind, she generously shares her heart and creativity with the world, and inspires and encourages with every colorful page.” —BRANDI MILNE, Surrealist painter
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MATT LEINES THE LITERARY MULTIPLIER I MOVED INTO THIS STUDIO ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF ago. It’s in the industrial end of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, above a metal shop which results in some interesting noises and dust, but also provides a good amount of privacy and quiet later in the day since it’s pretty hidden away. This is the first spot I’ve had that isn’t a home studio or a shared space, which has been tremendous, despite that old cumbersome radiator, right where you wish it wasn’t, that seems to follow me wherever I go. I try to keep things organized now that I have room, and it’s been a real luxury to have space to spread out and not have to put things away to work on others, which had been a headache sometimes in the past. I splurged on a much bigger light box and large format scanner in the past couple of years, and now I don’t know how I made do before. They’ve become super essential to how my process has evolved recently.
The bookshelves are the first thing people seem to notice, and I could talk about them for hours. I’ve been trying to pare down some of my collections, but the books continue to multiply, especially when used or cheap. It’s funny what will grab you at certain moments, and lately, I’ve been really into books about textiles. It’s inevitable that when people come by to see what I’m working on, something will come up in conversation that will trigger me pulling out a bunch of stuf to share. There’s also plenty of toys, knickknacks and souvenirs from places I’ve been (The Field Museum in Chicago) or haven’t been (The 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee). I’ve been fortunate to trade some art with a lot of amazing folks and it’s cathartic to have that stuf around me. —Matt Leines
Read Joey Garﬁeld’s interview with Matt Leines on page 84.
Portrait by Joey Garﬁeld
K R 3 W D E N I M . C O M
F E R G U S
P U R C E L L
T H E R EP O R T
TECHNICOLOR CRISIS SWEPT AWAY BY ERIK PARKER’S UNDERTOW ERIK PARKER GETS INSIDE YOUR HEAD, BUT HE’S friendly, so you won’t mind having him up there. His paintings are welcoming, with dazzling displays and details for days. Upon getting lost in these provocative candy lands of custom colors, you will find yourself navigating complex territory that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but necessitates deep consideration. Hurry, and you can get an eyeful of Parker’s current headspace at Paul Kasmin Gallery. The artist broke it down and brought us up to date on his latest jams just in time for the show. —Kristin Farr Is your new exhibit a continuation of your lifelong body of work, or does it have a particular focus? The work that spans this show is a mash-up of themes that I have been working with for a while—head paintings, landscapes and shaped canvases, but I pushed my work further with collage, sprayed surfaces, and air-brush techniques Did anything surprising happen as you put the show together? Shit happens all the time. I’ve been fascinated by the movement of refugees sweeping through Europe and the
racial issues we’ve been talking about, which have shaped the head paintings. The landscape paintings I make turn away from the brutality of humanity, but then I start thinking about global warming. Can you tell us about your two recent landscape paintings, Burst the Curse and My Mekong? They seem to be setting a stage. My Mekong is my version of the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam. My Dad was a medevac pilot in Vietnam and had a pretty heavy experience over there. It was something we didn’t talk about for a long time, so I was always drawn to Vietnam war movies. I especially like the scenes where they would be patrolling the Mekong River. That vegetation along the river is so overblown and extreme. I wanted to make a painting of it and make it even more extreme. Burst the Curse is a painting of a river down in central Florida called Rainbow Springs. My grandparents lived on that river. I would get to visit them for two weeks in the summertime if we could aford it. I looked forward to that more than anything, so I feel compelled to make paintings of that river. It’s like going back in time, that good-feeling time when you're a kid.
above (from left) My Mekong Acrylic on canvas 30” x 24” 2015 Bandera Shule Acrylic on canvas 29” x 33” Courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles 2015 opposite Millennial Dilemma Acrylic and collage on canvas 46.5” x 50” 2015
THE REPORT JUXTAPOZ.COM
T H E R EP O R T
I started painting the landscape river paintings in the Fall of 2014 after I spent the summer with my wife and kids in Central Florida where my grandfather used to bring my brother and me and our cousins. Would you say you’ve gone through ﬁgurative and nonﬁgurative phases with your paintings? I am really interested in the liminal space between figurative and nonfigurative. Can you pinpoint other things related to childhood nostalgia that stuck with you and perhaps inﬂuenced your work? Magazines I liked were Mad, Plop, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and Thrasher. I really like LP covers like Butthole Surfers first album, and all the Parliament/Funkadelic covers by Pedro Bell. I loved the JFA album covers too! All of these were big inﬂuences. Why do you think you’re attracted to using all the bright colors all at once? Do you wear bright colors? I grew up in South Texas, so maybe the heat and sunlight has something to do with it. It was okay to live with bright colors in South Texas in a Mexican-American community. It was never an issue until I came to the Northeast, where it is a big deal. What parts of your personality are most evident in your paintings? I'm not really sure, but I think they lean heavy to the left. My wife will say that I'm paranoid, super uptight and neurotic. I don't see that. Why is it important to you to mix your own colors? I mix colors to get the exact color I am looking for. I am often not sure what exactly that is, though it is pretty intuitive. I will mix up colors if I am stuck on something, too. I guess it's a way to work through diicult spots in the painting, a way to pause and step back. Your colors have good names. Tell us about some that are prominent in the new work. I have a really great orange called Blunt. It's a saturated Day-Glo orange that goes on quickly, but is still really bright. Other favorite names are: Owls Head (mellow magenta), Night Goat (saturated Day-Glo pink), Bad Men (dirty yellow), Lipslide (dark blue-green), Yoda (green) and Sound of the Police (light gray-purple). What’s the best soundtrack for the new paintings, and what would they taste like if you licked them? The best soundtrack would be if the Melvins teamed up with Funkadelic and did a record produced by Lee Perry. My paintings would taste like coconut, for sure. What’s your favorite candy? I like old school red Twizzlers a lot! They look nothing like they taste, like a Big Red soda. I don't know what ﬂavor that is. Red. It's just kinda good, but not really.
What’s up next for you? Next I have solo shows in both Hong Kong and Tokyo with Nanzuka and a solo show at Newcomb Gallery at Tulane University in New Orleans. What do you hope happens to people’s eyeballs when they look at your work? I hope that the viewer vibes well with the work and is intrigued. I want them to find something new every time they look at my paintings. I want them to chatter endlessly.
Erik Parker’s Undertow at Paul Kasmin Gallery is open through January 23, 2016. paulkasmingallery.com
above Ahead of the Heard Acrylic on canvas 36” x 48” 2015
jacquelindeLeon.com, American Scum, Digital, 2015
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PER S PEC T I V E
STARTING FRESH FIND THE MUSE IN MUSEUMS 2016 REALLY FEELS LIKE A FRESH START. THE SECOND half of a decade (the ’10s) has begun. If the twenty-first century was a lifespan, we’d be old enough to drive by now, and like teenagerhood, it’s a very uncertain time. But it’s a new beginning nonetheless, and we’re hoping for the best. The timeframe of a century can be diicult to grasp, but it’s a relatable term to museums who build enormous new homes for collections on loan for 100 years. Other museums have been in existence for 100 years. And others, like the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, which reopens January 31, 2016 in a new building, are planning the next 100 years. Of their new space, director Lawrence Rinder says, “The building will inspire audiences for generations with its fresh, imaginative design and versatility.” BAMPFA’s innovative architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, understand how to showcase art and integrate a building within its community, as they have demonstrated with another California museum in the fresh-start phase, the Broad in Los Angeles—quite a lovely trophy case, no matter how you feel about billionaires who buy mountains of art for our gawking pleasure. There is a question on the table
about the validity of collectors as curators, but let’s forget about that for now. Making art accessible is a gift, whether it’s funded by your taxes or your rich uncle. SFMOMA will also reopen in May, triple its previous size to accommodate another private collection on loan from the Fisher family, founders of The Gap. And the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is in the infancy of a new era in their new building. With so many American museums dusting themselves of and stepping into a new century with slick architecture and wide open, welcoming spaces, it’s about time to rediscover and reclaim them as the church of the artist; the place you go to learn, observe, and be moved. Museums are adapting to the growing parameters of contemporary art, media, and installation, and the physicality is key, because no 360 degree video or Google search result is ever going to have the visceral impact of a live and direct interaction with art housed in a space that lets it breathe. The long lines for entry will be worthwhile. These newly minted museums will embrace you if you let them. —Kristin Farr
BAMPFA Berkeley, CA Photo by Iwan Baan
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PIC TURE BOOK
LUCAS FOGLIA FRONTCOUNTRY THE VITAL CONNECTION BETWEEN LANDSCAPE AND the people who rely on it to sustain livelihood is a central theme in Lucas Foglia’s exceptional series, Frontcountry. Raised on a farm in upstate New York, the photographer’s earliest childhood memories are of playing cowboy. Foglia envisioned capturing that cherished image of the cowboy when he began this series. Making his way through sparsely settled areas of the American West from 2006 to 2013, he photographed the people who reside in this stretch of land and the wide-ranging efects mining booms have had on their lives. The images in Frontcountry were taken in Montana, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Idaho and New Mexico. Foglia shared reﬂections on his experiences and feelings while working on Frontcountry. —Austin McManus
PICTURE BOOK JUXTAPOZ.COM
“I met George in Diamond Valley, Nevada. George raised cattle for most of his life. In his retirement, he enjoys chasing forest fires. We drove on dirt roads with dust coming up through the ﬂoor of his truck, and then stopped at the hill with the fire burning on the other side. He told me very confidently that he had safety provisions. I asked, “What safety provisions?” And he said: “I have two bottles of water, a Coke, a candy bar, a shovel and a handgun.” In the photograph, which is on the cover of Frontcountry (Nazraeli Press), the fire cloud arcs over both of us.
There are still more cows than people in rural Nevada. And the areas I photographed between 2006 and 2013 in Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico and Montana are some of the least populated regions in the United States. The image of Casey and Rowdy horse training, in some ways, comes closest to symbolizing ranching today. The landscape is still iconic, the horse is rearing, but Casey is trying really hard not to fall of his horse.
I like to spend time with the people I photograph, to stay for long enough to take part in everyday life. It was Tommyâ€™s idea to shoot coyotes from the top of a fence pole. I photographed Tommy the moment before he fell of the pole with a loaded gun.
I photographed the loan oice of the Happy State Bank in Silverton Texas. Ninety percent of the farmers in this small town in rural Texas need to take out loans to pay for seeds and labor. I asked the banker what the donkey heads on the wall represented, and he said he had no idea.
I watched as Adam, a Wyoming school teacher, aimed a riďŹ‚e at a cow. Just before Adam pulled the trigger, I pressed the shutter release. The sound of my camera made the cow look at me. I made another photograph, and a second later Adam fired his gun. That moment of eye contact with the cow felt the most memorable, almost human.
Most of the cowboys I met in the American West were from Mexico or Peru, working under guest worker visas. When I first traveled to Wyoming in 2009, I expected to meet cowboys trailing animals past ghost towns and wilderness. People in the towns I visited knew that what was happening
there was unbelievable. In the middle of a global recession, while ranchers were fighting the economy and the weather, almost everyone could get a job at the mines: coal, oil and natural gas in Wyoming; copper and gold in Nevada. At the same time, the nuggets of gold that made the American West famous have been gone from Nevada for generations. In the Wyoming oil fields, companies pull one hundred barrels of water out of the ground to extract one barrel of oil. With modern technologies, like fracking, land that wasnâ€™t valuable a few decades ago is now being drilled or mined.
It is now profitable to mine gold if there is 1/10th of an ounce of gold dust in a two thousand pound rock. To extract gold, the rock is crushed and mixed with cyanide. Because the nuggets of gold are gone, and because the prices are so high, companies are digging the biggest holes in the world to find smaller and smaller things, leaving pits where there were mountains. I photographed Thomas and Kimberly playing in a pond near Jefrey City, Wyoming. Jefrey City used to be a uranium mining boom town. As the cold war ended, the company closed the mines and everyone moved away, taking their
houses with them. Jefrey City now has a population of about six. On the sides of the roads are rows of cement foundations with front steps leading to nowhere. The land in the places I photographed is scarred from previous generations of booms and busts. I expected cowboys to be nomads, herding animals over a wild landscape. I learned pretty quickly that most ranchers had homes with mortgages. I also learned that every mine closes eventually. When a mine closes, the company leaves and people have to move. Miners are the modern day nomads, following jobs across the country.
After six years of photographing, I worked with Nazraeli Press to choose the sixty images in the book from over sixty thousand photographs. We decided that the book should open with images of cowboys and gradually show the encroachment of the mining companies. I hope the project is more of a portrait than an indictment of the people who live in the rural American West, and the ways they share and depend on a landscape that still feels wild.â€?
ALLISTER LEE THE POWER OF BLACK FREELANCE GRAPHIC ARTIST ALLISTER LEE HAS designed for behemoths like adidas, Stussy and Nike, but spends his of time illustrating and painting for relaxation. This bifurcation of energy means his creative ventures oscillate as he headlines a gallery show, then retreats into commercial work, emerging several years later with a new drawing series. He is a natural archiver. In his Chinatown World Tour, he sat on the stoops to draw scenes of international Chinatown districts, and in his decade-long drawing series, Black is Beautiful, he has meticulously documented nearly 1000 diferent black markers.
then just proactively acquired more. At marker number 25, I started documenting them at a 1:1 scale. Iâ€™ve kept up the gathering and documentation process ever since.
Rachel Cassandra: How did the idea develop for your recent show in Portland, and how did it go? Allister Lee: I started collecting black markers in 2002 while I was living in London. As a graphic artist, I wanted to collect something relating to my practice that was easily attainable and cheap to acquire. I separated the black markers from the rest of my drawing supplies and put them in a shoebox,
How has your design work shifted over time? At a base level, I just use black markers to communicate simple ideas, words and graphic concepts. My interactions with good people and companies over the years have helped me develop diverse skill sets to elevate to higher, finished forms.
The show in Portland was called B.I.B. 999: An Exhibition and Illustrated Documentation of 999 Black Markers. It was a great opportunity to develop and test-run a show with the physical markers alongside archival drawings, with an integrated pop-up retail element. The documentation and what I learned will help me develop pitches and funding to bring the exhibition elsewhere.
Chronologically, my work has moved from illustration, to
above Portrait by Mario Galucci
T-shirt design, to branding, to print projects, to large-scale painting, to pattern development, to product design and to retail installation. I hope to continue doing all of those things while keeping an open mind to growth and new experiences. I treat everybody I work with as if they’re my own brand or initiative. I create what I think is best for them using my quiver of styles and executions, rather than continuously pushing my own aesthetic and agenda. These opportunities have allowed me to experiment and work with styles I never would have tried to develop otherwise. Style-wise, ten diferent examples of my design work may look as though they were developed by ten diferent people. You spent a lot of time in Shanghai recently. What were you doing there? I first went out to Shanghai in 2009. I love the city. I love the energy. It's pretty rare to be somewhere and see and feel history unfolding at such a swift pace! Such rapid change and growth, without fully knowing the ramifications, gives the city a confusing tension at times, albeit with an electric edge. Most recently, I went out there on contract work at the Nike Shanghai campus as part of the Brand Design team. Great
experience. I worked weekdays with the team, and on the weekends, I would just pick a direction and bike as far as I could go to find interesting neighborhoods and do street drawings. The thing that caught my eye was… you know those coin-operated rides for kids? In North America, we had them in front of grocery stores. In Shanghai, they're found mostly in all the old neighborhoods—lower-income areas that are getting torn down.
clockwise from top Pattern Illustration for Stussy 2014 Nike SB x Fly Skateboards Bruin 2010 Nike NSW Toronto Launch Graphic 2008
I'd just ride my bike and keep my eyes peeled for them. The rides would often be of old popular culture characters or reﬂect old cultural symbols of growth or military power; Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would be next to a rocket ship or tank. Right now, in Shanghai, they're destroying blocks and blocks of my favorite parts of the city. A lot of these kids rides and neighborhoods won't be aren't around next time I visit, so I'm happy I could draw them and explore their original environment. There's something really captivating about them. Did you use neon watercolors? I use black marker for outlines and neon acrylic for block fills. Eiciency and ease. On the actual rides, the paint-jobs are really bad. You know how it looks on old lithographs
when you see misaligned color layers? It's like that, but with paint. The results are these unique pop-culture relics. I try to capture that look, drawing on site. A quick-and-dirty approach allows me to capture the right amount of wonk. I love those. And it's a bit like how you’re archiving the markers, capturing these rides that will be gone in a couple years. Pretty much. Archival drawing, to me, is relaxing drawing. I just sit there and draw what's in front of me. Very simple. As far as art and graphic output, I try to make things that are very easy to digest. It's like, “Well, I saw it, and then I drew it.” But the stories attached to the work are often a platform to develop interesting narratives. Did Shanghai inﬂuence your design work? Being so close to production and seeing what people are capable of making at your fingertips pushes the imagination of what can be made. You know lenticular rulers? They have a factory for those. Or tin toys, they have a factory for those too. Googly-eye stickers, shiny stickers, all these diferent things. You can commission large-scale statues from fiberglass. It's a lot cheaper than in North America. Sometimes the only thing
that prevents creatives from having an idea realized is the cost factor. In Shanghai, you can get production done at a fraction of the cost. It's pretty interesting, the marriage of consumerism and lower-cost production. I can prototype and develop things on a budget and push my ideas into diferent forms. Did you prototype anything while you were there? I just made a bunch of stickers. With everything else, I gathered contacts and quotes. I never have a shortage of ideas, but if I produce things, I need to sell them, so I need to figure that part out. If money wasn’t an obstacle, what would you produce in Shanghai? I have this running marker character associated with the Black Is Beautiful project that I would love to make as an articulated, key-turn, motorized tin toy. I love the idea of working with local companies that have a history to produce something considered and unique.
location Minghang Spongebog Black Marker and Acrylic 2015
FA S H I O N
FREDA SALVADOR SHOES YOU CAN WEAR PAST MIDNIGHT MEGAN PAPAY STUDIED ART HISTORY AND COSTUME design, and Cristina Palomo Nelson grew up in a 65 years-and-counting family shoe business in El Salvador, so it’s not surprising that Frida Kahlo is their mutual muse. A twist on the spelling of her name voices the artistic license inspired by this painter who declared, “Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves…” Freda Salvador crafts shoes that allow you to hold your ground or turn on a dime.
below Cristina Palomo Nelson and Megan Papay at their Sausalito, California studio
Gwynned Vitello: When did you meet, and how long before that evolved into a business partnership? Freda Salvador: We met in 2010 when we were both on the design team of a woman’s footwear company. The focus was on comfort, but the shoes were beautifully handcrafted in Italy. We learned so much about technical design and how
to make shoes that fit and feel good all day. We worked together for a year designing four collections. It was evident we had great design synergy and a shared vision to make shoes that are style-relevant, but totally wearable, a cool everyday shoe. We left the company in 2011 and launched Freda Salvador in Fall of 2012. Describe what is involved in actually crafting a shoe, and do you sketch them out ﬁrst? The way we design shoes is kind of a living/breathing thing at all times. We get inspired by living in San Francisco and from traveling to places like Italy, Spain and New York. The shoes we see, the fashion, the lifestyle, culture, it all soaks in. We keep folders of ideas, so when it comes time to discuss a collection, we go there first. We have conversations about what types of shoes we want to ofer and what is currently missing. We sort and prioritize, then the rendering process begins. We sketch a lot more than we’d ever present, but we like to see everything all together before we start editing. We make sure to have a good representation of toe shapes, heel and shaft heights, etc. We then send them to our factory in Spain, and they start making patterns and prototypes immediately, so it typically takes two or three rounds before final approval of a design.
The next step is choosing our leathers and details of the shoes. We travel to Milan twice a year to visit a leather show called Lineapelle, which consists of hundreds of tanneries and companies that provide buckles, heels, laces and adornments. It is one of the most magical places because it is here that collections transform from black and white renderings to a fully conceptualized idea with color, texture and hardware.
How did you come up with the idea of removable accessories, and how do you source your embellishments? We had the idea of making removable ornaments our first season. We were staring at the rendering of an oxford and thought how cool it would be if you could simply remove the saddle portion, and it was then that we developed the CHANGE oxford. We simply sourced out snaps that would hold the leather saddle onto the base of the shoe.
What did the ﬁrst product look like? Was it inspired by material or function? Our design aesthetic is inspired by material and function. When we started, our goal was to ofer classic shoes with a twist—understandable but unique. The first collection included a simple silhouette of a jodhpur boot, but we mixed leathers, so the front was black, but the back was a snake printed pony hair. We love mixing textures and color.
Do you work exclusively with leather, and if so, any particular kind? What materials are most challenging, and are there any you would like to work with, but haven’t yet? At this time, we do, although we started putting rubber stays on our leather soles to give them more life. We mainly use calf and just recently sourced a soft deerskin for our oxfords. We use leathers from the top tanneries in Italy and Spain. They are masters at making exotic prints like snake and croc
above Sausalito Studio below Selections from Fall/Winter 2015 collection
FA S H I O N
and also working with hair calf, where they leave the hair on the skin. It takes color so beautifully. Tell us something about properties of leather that we might not know about. What’s its favorite weather, and does it really stretch? Many people don’t think about the fact that leather is skin, so there are imperfections, just like our own. For example, if the cow gets cut, it will have a scar, and if it gets sick it may have blemishes. Because leather is a skin, it does stretch. It’s also porous, which allows it to breathe. Cristina’s dad tell us that you shouldn’t wear the same shoes two days in a row because they take your moisture, so you should let the air out a day. This really helps them mold to your feet and become comfortable. We love that leather shoes become softer and softer with age. How much time do you spend in your studio in Sausalito, and do its special qualities enhance creativity? If we aren’t traveling, we are at the studio in Sausalito, so, every day, 9:00 to 6:00. It’s an oasis to us. It’s very open and comfortable, and lends itself to team meetings and creativity. It’s an ideal setting for our small but incredible staf to brainstorm and get things done. Also, it’s 100 yards from the beach, so the salt air and sea breeze keeps our energy up! Do you have similar tastes, and do you combine and compromise on diferent elements?
We feel that having diferent individual styles and co-designing our collections give our shoes a more understandable look. I (Megan) love mixing prints, bold pieces and everything baggy. Cristina is more monotone and tailored, button downs and skinnier jeans. When we design, we make sure we each see the purpose of the shoe. If we don’t love it, we typically cut that style because likely it is too far one way or the other. You can, however, see our individual styles come out with leather choices for the same shoe. Cris would most likely choose black and I would choose metallic. Given the name of the company, Frida Kahlo is evidently your muse. Have you designed anything with her in mind? Frida Kahlo is our muse. We really admire her drive and badass spirit. She seemed to have many hardships with disease, accidents, and love, but she loved unconditionally and passionately, and had the courage to incorporate it into her work. She seemed like such a strong, yet fragile person, which is authentic and admirable. When we went to name our company, we knew we wanted Frida as the first name, but we changed it slightly to FREDA and made the font of our logo very minimal. We wanted a nod to Frida, but we are thinking of a modern, urban girl who is badass in her own right. We believe Frida would have liked the shoes.
left Selections from Freda Salvador collection
NO, YOU’RE WEIRD!
J O H NF LU EVO GS H O E S VANCOUVERSEATTLEBOSTONTORONTONEWYORKSANFRANCISCOCHICAGOLOSANGELESMONTRÉAL PORTLANDQUÉBECCALGARYWASHINGTONDCMINNEAPOLISDENVEROTTAWANEWORLEANS
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DODECAHEDRON MARK RYDEN’S DIVINE DOZEN MARK RYDEN’S NEWEST EXHIBITION AT PAUL Kasmin Gallery in NYC features his first monumental bronze sculpture and an ongoing exploration of Jungian archetypes in porcelain and paint. Ryden graciously discussed his personal philosophy and current inﬂuences exclusively for Juxtapoz. A Life in Bronze Mark Ryden: I had thought about doing a bronze sculpture for a while. The idea for this piece came to me during a conversation with my wife, Marion. We were discussing what kind of grave marker we might want for ourselves and what our graves might look like, a subject we find interesting. The vision of a dodecahedron covered in my own iconography came to me. I thought what a wonderful bronze sculpture it would be and decided to create it for this exhibition. I titled the piece Self Portrait as a Dodecahedron because the subject is a reﬂection on myself and the imagery I often return to in my work. It is fascinating to think that this sculpture could possibly be around a couple thousand years or more from now. For the patina of the sculpture, I was inspired by a visit to a recent exhibition of bronzes from the Hellenistic period, in the first few centuries BC, at the Getty Museum. The sculptures beautifully showed their great age on their exquisite surfaces: deep hues of black covered in gorgeous turquoise corrosion. I tried to emulate this surface on my sculpture. The sculpture was created by a wonderful group of artisans at Foundry Guastini in Vicenza, Italy, using a traditional lost wax technique. These people are masters at classical traditional bronze casting and sculpting. It was wonderful to work with them. They beautifully brought my vision to life. The Dodecahedron Even before I fully understood the significance of the dodecahedron, I was instinctively attracted to it, and it began to show up in my paintings. The dodecahedron is a very special geometric form, permeated with mystery and connotations of divinity. It belongs to a small group of five geometric solids that share a simple set of parameters: the same polygon on every face, and the same number of faces at each vertex. It is interesting that there are only five shapes that belong to this very limited group. They each have a mathematical beauty and perfect symmetry that have given them tremendous significance to mathematicians and philosophers since the times of antiquity. They became known as the Platonic Solids because they figured prominently in the philosophy of Plato. He associated each shape with one of the four classical elements: earth, air, water and fire. The fifth solid, the dodecahedron, he nebulously associated with God
and the heavens. Aristotle alleged that the heavens were made out of an element he called “ether” and he attached the dodecahedron to this element. The dodecahedron symbolizes a bridge between the physical world and the intangible realm. The images on the twelve sides of the sculpture are the icons or symbols that I most often use in my art overall. These include things like the bee, the tree, meat, the eye, etc. I embrace the symbols and icons that return repeatedly in my art. I have a long relationship with each of them and feel great afection for them. On the top pentagon surface of the dodecahedron, I have incorporated my own astrological birth chart. Alchemy I think that when the alchemists played around with substances, it was not unlike an artist playing around with paint. They liked to see what would happen with various substances as they tried diferent things with them. They were interested in the connection between a physical substance and the spiritual realm. In that way, I do feel a kinship to alchemy. I love to play with paint and see what magical thing I can make happen with it. Spirit Guides I think the more an artist tries to have complete control of their work, the more lifeless the work will be. I feel an artist has to give themselves over to “other forces” to get some real numinous power in their work. One of the most important things an artist needs to do is learn how to get their guiding spirits to show up and help them in their work.
Aurora I had certain thoughts about the paintings I would do for this show rolling around in my head for quite a long time, and then the vision of the large piece, Aurora, came to me. Initially, I resisted. It seemed a bit of on a tangent from what I originally thought was the theme of this body of work. She also needed to be epic in scale, and I knew it would take up most of my time and prevent me from doing many of the other pieces I had planned. But I felt strongly compelled to do the piece, and in the end, she became the very piece that best defined the theme of the show, which could be described as “the soul confronting its physical form.”
opposite Aurora Oil on canvas 58” x 112” 2015 above (from left) Mark Ryden in studio Portrait by Ann Cutting Chroma Structure 113 Oil on canvas 30” x 20” 2015
Feeling The Mystery In my work, I am not attempting to communicate a narrow, specific meaning. I would hope my work is more open and provides an opportunity for the viewer to think their own thoughts, form their own ideas, and draw their own conclusions. I want my art to be enjoyed without rational analysis. I’m not dealing with literal, ordinary, daytime thought that can be put into an identifiable container. I would hope my art moves people on a diferent level, something more to do with the subconscious and more mysterious. Jungian Archetypes With Anima, I was referring to the Jungian school of thought in which anima is the feminine aspect of the male unconscious mind (the counterpart to animus, the masculine part of the feminine unconscious mind). At some point, my wife, Marion, conjectured that the recurring female figures in my paintings were really self-portraits. This was very insightful and I had to agree. In that way, the recurring figure is my anima. In a more general way, she is simply anima, the soul, relating to anyone looking at my paintings.
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I am very interested in archetypes and the deeply rooted, collectively held ideas and forms that we all share. Archetypes are primordial psychic structures. They come from the mysterious deep strata of the psyche revealed in the dream world, and therefore, hold great power. When they live in a painting, they give the work a very dynamic charge.
“ THE RECURRING FEMALE FIGURES IN MY PAINTINGS WERE REALLY SELF-PORTRAITS.” Porcelain Biology Anatomia is a progression from my previous porcelain sculpture, The Meat Dress. Both of these porcelains are based on my paintings. With the thought of meat being the physical substance that keeps our souls in this physical realm, we are all wearing a “meat dress.” With Anatomia, the dress becomes a display of the wondrous anatomy that makes up our biological form. I am astonished by our miraculous biology. Seeing our internal organs on display inspires contemplation of the incredible complexity of our inner workings. While it might seem disturbing to see our insides, our anatomy is actually quite beautiful, and that is what I attempted to show in my work.
After Death I think that we dissolve back into the collective field of consciousness. Just as our bodies are absorbed back into the earth, so are our spirits absorbed back into the “Anima Mundi,” the great collective soul of the earth. I don’t think we maintain any awareness at that point. I imagine it is something like dreamless sleep, but I believe we go on to combine with the whole in a realm beyond time and beyond the world of opposites. Beauty in Math Sacred Geometry combines two subjects of great interest to me: math and art. There are beautiful mathematics that exist underneath the surface of everything around us. Phi, the golden ratio (1.618), is a magic number. It is the number of existence. I think of the world a little bit like a video game. The game can be a rich, complex world of wondrous sights, incredible music, interesting characters and intriguing stories, but at the deepest level, the game is made up of numbers. Binary 0s and 1s. Recent Obsessions Black truffles, authentic water bufalo mozzarella, Japanese Kawaii, Japanese BJD, my own Final Cut Pro home movies, Woody Allen movies now that he is no longer in them, collecting sea shells, ancient Greco-Roman mystery cults, Instagram.
Mark Ryden’s Dodecahedron is on view through January 23, 2016 at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City.
location Dymaxion Principle Oil on canvas 44” x 18” 2015
LA Art Book Fair 2016 Fundraising Edition By Misaki Kawai
STEPHEN “ESPO” POWERS THE ICY SIGNS OF THE TIMES Written by Carlo McCormick // Portrait by Bryan Derballa
above Stephen at Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Brooklyn Museum, November 2015 Portrait by Bryan Derballa opposite Installation detail from Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Photo by Jonathan Dorado for the Brooklyn Museum
WHEN WE THINK OF INDIGENOUS AMERICAN ART forms, of how entire musical genres, from jazz, soul, hip hop or the blues, to rock and country spawned from the collective aspirations and dysfunctions of the United States, we recognize the cultural processes by which populist idiom becomes art. This is, however, a far trickier map to follow when it comes to visual culture. Fine art as a Western tradition is, rather, more of a continuum, and a very long one at that, defined primarily according to medium, with distinctions of style and content. No matter how radical a departure they may seem at the time, they’re always reducible to epochal generalities. We all have a pretty good idea about what Surrealism or minimalism look like, but as diferent as they may be, we also know that they belong together to that twentieth-century project called modernism. Even the authority of genre that modernism allowed, where we could put specific dates on art movements, was forever eroded with postmodernism so that once rigid definitions carry on now as a matter of style in contemporary art with multifarious intentions and efects. Graiti felt very much like a break within this tradition, a form unto itself, and among its smartest practitioners, like Stephen Powers, it continues to reify its otherness to fine art by at once rejecting the certainty of art history while embracing its own past. This matters a lot. Stephen Powers, or ESPO as he’s most familiarly known, has the kind of old school tenure in a reviled and illegal art
form, and a brilliant legacy of innovation within a medium that makes him both an impeccable spokesman for, and paradigm of, graiti art. He’s also, to be quite frank, a pretty cranky cuss. ESPO’s uncanny combination of personal intensity and uncompromising ideology has sometimes given him the unfair reputation of being “diicult.” Where his art and his persona converge is upon those very terms of cultural currency we all are somewhat suspect in compromising. Simply put, he is more confrontational and caring in regards to what he thinks art can and should be than most others are entirely comfortable with. I’ll admit that, at times, he’s scared the fuck out of me, but let me also confess that every time he’s disagreed enough with my opinions to berate me in his inimitably gruf manner, my longstanding respect for his work has made me listen closely to the wisdom and ferocity of his perspective, and even (albeit silently) ultimately agree with him. To put a finer point on it, ESPO’s actual engagement in the art world proper—showing with the fabled Deitch Projects (whose similar iconoclastic tendencies Powers confers made Jefrey “a one of a kind dealer”)—was so relatively brief in the scheme of his career, his art demands a reading somewhere outside the conventional ratifications of the market. It’s not entirely uncommon for prominent, even great artists to have moments in their career where they work without representation or ailiation, but beyond all those circumstances and situations, there is the unmistakable sense that, with ESPO, this disconnect is deliberate. What makes
Stephen’s art so compelling and challenging, in fact, is that his entire sense of what it means to be an artist is contrary to the prevailing models of production and distribution. Much as we’ve been fortunate to have many of the very best artists who worked on trains and the street develop a studio practice in which their art attains commensurate force as painting on canvas, the philosophy and ethos guiding ESPO’s vision has kept him at some critical distance from this lineage of comfortable commodities. He believes in public art as something more than simply a designated common space for self-expression because he actually believes in that inefable and vague thing we call the public. In many ways, it is that basic determination everyone who has something to say develops along the way to identifying their “audience.” Somewhere along the line, Stephen seems to have figured out, beyond the need to address a rarified and rich class of connoisseurs, that it constitutes another kind of utility altogether and that this empty and blurry construct of the “public” is largely responsible for some of the crappiest municipal art, and might be better understood and engaged if we recognize them as the body politic of a community, rather than imagined them as some amorphous collection of people. While it may seem to many that Stephen Powers stepping out of that highly contested battle we call the contemporary art world would make him considerably less important to the course of civilization, his general absence from the gallery
world—a Duchampian silence as it were—has focused this artist’s work and intentions on something far more relevant. For the many fans who have ventured out to the Brooklyn Museum, and continue to do so, they are not going there to see the latest ESPO paintings but something else entirely. Stephen Powers is now a sign painter. You wouldn’t go over to his studio to look for the right painting to hang over that lovely new Newson couch; he’s the kind of cat you bring over to your bodega and say, “Make me something that will bring people to my store. Oh, and make sure it mentions that we sell beer and cigarettes.” There is, of course, a political side to this, not that murky one of Pop Art’s penchant for the most quotidian appropriations (though it does bear a curious kinship with James Rosenquist, who will, if you ask him, proudly bring out his tattered old membership card from the sign painters union), but a fanciful aesthetic of utility that is decidedly proletariat without ever being prosaic. The form is not the signifier; it is most trenchantly the visual language by which a most extraordinary writer has chosen to communicate with us.
all images Installation views from Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull), with logo by Stephen Powers Photo by Jonathan Dorado for the Brooklyn Museum
Beholding ESPO’s grand installation at the Brooklyn Museum, much like his last art world foray a couple years back at Joshua Liner Gallery, one is immediately struck by the non-hierarchical democracy of his sign-painting project. While artists of the same stature as Powers get busy by hiring a ton of assistants to do their work for them, ESPO works with collaborators who are allowed their own creative autonomy. “Yeah, the museum asked me to do this show, so
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above and right Installation views from Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Photo by Jonathan Dorado for the Brooklyn Museum
I turned it into a group exhibition,” he jokes, gesturing across the room towards the towering forest of signs mushrooming like the rising shrill of a chorus of carny barkers shilling all at once, “That work over there is mine, all the rest are by friends of mine who also paint signs.” Somewhere between a socialist business model and a true artist collective, Icy Signs is ESPO’s DIY entrepreneurial take on how the working shop of a craft-based industry recognizes the individuality of artists within the rubric of a single branded entity. Perhaps it’s a subversive thing, in the tradition of collaborative artist projects, but just as likely, it’s pragmatic about something we don’t often think about in the rewards program of art world fairness. It is the mix of participants, younger artists drawn to the medium, veterans of the industry when it was still a profitable business before photographic and digital technologies made hand-painted labors seem obsolete, and pioneers in the poetics of public art like Mimi Gross, that gives Icy Signs its renegade character. For ESPO, sign painting is all these things, and in that unruly conglomerate of near-obsolete form and function, he knows that it is, in all, something so much more. To have mentioned already how certain forms, whether the blues or graiti art, are purely American modes is to invoke the everyday character of what and where these expressions mean and come from. We are speaking, of course, about vernacular art, and this is the potent continuity that connects the graiti of ESPO with Stephen Powers the sign painter. “For me, it’s more satisfying than being an artist in the studio,” he tells us, “it’s a regular workman’s day. If I get a sign painted before lunch and then one more before I go home in the evening, that’s a good day.” Outside the struggles of so many contemporaries wrestling with their own doubts and demons to fashion something a bunch of rich and clueless cunts might take to be the zeitgeist, Stephen’s prosaic program of production seems refreshingly direct and a whole hell of a lot more honest. It’s as if, unburdened by the vagaries of contemporary art discourse, ESPO is remarkably truly able to talk about what he wants to talk about in his art. Always one of the most literate of graiti writers, ESPO is, above all else, a language-based artist with maybe even more in common with artists like Jenny Holzer, Joseph Kosuth and Barbara Kruger than with the legions of urbaninﬂected artists he’s more commonly associated with. “It was always about words and letters for me,” he explains, “Signs are just a perfect way for me to combine the two.” It is working within the semiotics of signs that Powers shines with a simply stunning wit these days. And it is in this medium that he can deliver the love and generosity of his message, his peculiarly misanthropically tinged humanism, with a kindness of spirit and openness to the full spirited expression of the vox populi. As a vernacular art form, a mode of representation and communication that, no matter the heights of its accomplishments along the way, has always been something of a folk art, it takes something of the geeky scholar in Powers to bring it to the present, not like another
above and left Installation views from Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Photo by Jonathan Dorado for the Brooklyn Museum
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clockwise from top righ Stephen working on Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Mike Levy and Matt Wright of ICY SIGNS working at Brooklyn Museum Courtesy of ICY SIGNS Installation detail from Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) Courtesy of ICY SIGNS
pop-inﬂected appropriation, but as a surviving strain of weirdo roots Americana. It’s just not retro in that pathetic and pathological way that we put everything into some postmodernist blender. Stephen’s signs come with all the history attached; they just speak with his acerbic freshass tone that makes them of-the-moment, despite their old neighborhood charms. More literary than literal, “The texts of these works, when you read them, are really about contemporary problems” ESPO points out, “All that layering and accumulation of signs we create are about the messy feelings and memories we all experience.” Powers comes to sign painting relatively early and now finds himself at a lucky moment of surprising renaissance, when kids all over the country have taken to its highly styled linguistics as both a financially self-sustaining creative guild and an expansive medium for more personal work. He began exploring the possibilities of this aesthetic agency in the ’90s, along with Barry McGee, his collaborator and compatriot in those years. Then, “Around 1996, at the instigation of [artist] Phil Frost, I started putting up signs around the Lower East Side. They were for fake businesses, but made to be local, like for bodegas and liquor stores.” When the late, great Margaret Kilgallen, McGee’s wife before her untimely death, forged her unique style of sign painting in their hometown of San Francisco, it was at once inspiring and tempering. “Margaret brought the medium to fine art painting,” he credits, “there was no way for me to repeat that, so I began to explore the possibility of bringing my art directly into sign painting.” Remembering back to the days when he was working in tandem with McGee and Kilgallen to recover this fast disappearing and already nearly lost tradition of sign painting, ESPO admits, “We got into it because no one else was doing it. It was a safe harbor for us as no one was at all interested in it. I feel like I wandered down an old rutty and overgrown dirt road and now I find myself on an eight lane highway.” And surely what was, not so long ago, an obscure and esoteric undertaking for the weirdest of artists to pursue is now far more like a viable industry and an entire cultural movement. There truly are some amazingly skilled and talented people being drawn into this milieu, and for fans like us, this is really exciting. We have yet to see how it will all develop, but at this point we can only hope some small fraction of those being attracted to sign painting understand, as Stephen Powers truly does, its gorgeous place along the cusp of our vanishing past and the chasm of our endlessly mediated future. “Signs are a way of grabbing attention and directing the gaze and have always meant to help sell things,” he opines, “We’re selling emotions, we’re selling life, we’re just selling those things that you cannot buy.”
Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum through March 13, 2016. icysigns.com
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THE REMIXOLOGIST THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ERMSY MANY OF US HAVE BEEN THERE: LATE NIGHT VEGETATING on the couch, watching cartoons, enhancing the experience with the help of some backyard boogie, and things get just a little… distorted. Ermsy is the author of a nostalgic blend of recognizable pop-culture created through a lens that shows the real way we consumed these characters; a little high, a little distant, and definitely under the inﬂuence. Evan Pricco: We are roughly the same age, so I feel like our point of reference is similar. I assume you liked comic books as a kid? Ermsy: I loved comic books. When I was a kid, I read lots of the old homegrown British titles, like The Beano and The Dandy. I was pretty obsessed. Then, in the late 1980s, I’d go with my dad to his work on Saturdays. There was a ﬂea market nearby, with a guy who sold boxes and boxes of old American comics, mostly Marvel and DC titles from the ’70s and ’80s. I’d buy hundreds of really random titles, totally out of chronological order, and look over every detail. Do you think you’re remixing and reinterpreting because of the way you found comics? It sort of grew out my graiti. I’d always liked doing characters and incorporating them into my pieces like lots of writers. After a while, the characters started to become the
pieces themselves. I started thinking less about letters and more about aesthetic composition. Garﬁeld has been a constant character in your work. Why Garﬁeld? Why Jon Arbuckle? I read some Garﬁeld comics as a kid growing up in the ’80s, but I can’t say that I was a massive fan at that point. I didn’t find it particularly funny. It’s more of an appreciation that’s grown in recent years. I started to look closely at French versions of some of the Garﬁeld strips before I knew how to read in French. And I found so much graphic inspiration! Even today, when I open a Garﬁeld book, I see something new every time and get ideas for new drawings. I think that Davis has an amazing ability to express ideas graphically— the way he draws hands and feet, eyes and body language. I started focusing on Jon for the same reasons. It really grew out of drawing Garfield and exploring his wider universe. He’s also a pretty easy character to manipulate, with a simple, modular kind of body. I like the idea of isolating Jon away from Garfield. I hadn’t really seen anyone else using him in artworks.
left and right Marker ink on paper 2015
AUSTIN LEE SOUL TECHNOLOGY INTERVIEW AND PORTRAIT BY AUSTIN McMANUS
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, WHILE WITNESSING A 3D PRINTER sluggishly constructing a miniature skull for the first time, I imagined various ways that artists could experiment and manipulate the new tool to their advantage. True, many artists have already employed 3D printing as an artistic medium. But, for me, nobody has utilized this new technology within their process better than Austin Lee. I believe this largely because his final product does not allude to, or resemble, anything fabricated from plastic. Most people’s first impression is that they are probably built from clay, and upon further scrutiny, they appear highly texturized, clumpy like clay, occasionally blurry, limited in rendering, hypnotizing in their presence. The busts of both his mother and father were the most recent subjects of this medium to make a gallery appearance, in an exhibition titled Nothing Personal. Incorporating new technology into his art is one of the many defining qualities of Lee’s practice. Using an iPad for his initial sketches or “digital doodles,” Lee swiftly draws, erases, redraws, deletes, and, eventually saves. These sketches serve as blueprints for later paintings, and sometimes the actual painting is photographed and put
right Installation view of Nothing Personal Postmasters Gallery, NYC 2015 opposite BITE Acrylic on Canvas 14” x 11” 2014
back into Photoshop for alterations and ideas. Using another new technological tool, Lee created a series of watercolor paintings using a robot that mirrors digital artwork with a paintbrush. When asked about applying new technologies to his practice, Lee advised, “New technology is an opportunity to explore. It’s important for artists to experiment and find new ways to use tools and to question them.” Recently releasing the first publication of his work, Lee continues exploring the world of augmented reality, inviting viewers to download an application to enhance the viewing experience as Lee’s drawing visually come to life. It’s brilliant and capable of entertaining all ages with intensely colored, childlike drawings. Lee had his first solo exhibition in New York last year, so, in many ways, he’s the new kid on the block who’s already established. He has, in a significantly short time span, attracted the attention of gallerists and collectors alike, establishing a feeling that he’s been here the whole time— which he has. Lee got an MFA from Yale and has been working on his art for over a decade, but moving to New York seems to have been his big break. Visiting and chatting with him, I started to understand why so many people have been quick to applaud his work. He’s fully committed and borderline obsessive, continuously questioning the ideas and processes of his art. Energetic and inquisitive, his appetite for creativity and production is headed down the fast lane.
above Me and My Dad Acrylic on canvas 92” x 72” 2015 right On the Way Acrylic on wood 48” x 48” 2012
opposite (from top) Mom 3D printed ABS plastic, plaster and acrylic 10” x 10” x 9” 2015 Raw Acrylic on Canvas 52” x 52” 2014
Austin McManus: A good friend recently told me he was moving to Vegas and I replied, “Why?” I guess I don't have a very good impression of the place. What was growing up there like? Austin Lee: I left Las Vegas when I was three, so all I remember was that it was hot. I’ve been back to Vegas twice since then. It’s a weird place, a sad Disneyland for adults. Where did you spend your youth, and were you creatively inclined growing up? I was born in Nevada but grew up in Pennsylvania. I was always making drawings when I was a kid. The first one I remember making was of a horse. It stood out to me because some other kids were really into it. It was the first time I remember doing something that people cared about. I also remember experimenting with computers early on. My dad had a great nerdy friend who talked him into buying a computer. He showed me the basics and then I would experiment on my own. I learned early on how to make websites, and I started doing weird drawings and Photoshop collages when I was pretty young. Can you recall the ﬁrst and last time you saw a piece of artwork that left an impression or moved you? The first time was a painting by Leonardo called Ginevra de’Benci. I saw it at the National Gallery in Washington DC and was blown away. I think about it all the time. It has a weird uncanny space in it that I always try to emulate in my own way. The last thing I saw that moved me was a sculpture by John Ahearn in the MoMA PS1 Greater New York show. It is a woman leaning over to hug and kiss another woman. A beautiful moment frozen in time. You’ve garnered a great deal of attention in a relatively short period of time. 2012 was your ﬁrst time showing painting in New York, and in 2014, you had your ﬁrst solo exhibition. This year, you have had three solo exhibitions in three diferent countries. Were you were surprised at how fast the attention came your way? The first show was at Family Business gallery. It was curated by Marilyn Minter. I think maybe that particular show was the reason I received attention quickly. It was a really great introduction to New York and had a surprising DIY vibe that I wasn't expecting to find here. I am fascinated by the “augmented reality” application you created in collaboration with Phillippe Karrer. The merging of new technology and publishing for an alternative viewing experience is exciting. How did the inspiration for these ideas develop, and have you considered applying it in other aspects of viewing your work, such as an exhibition? One of Philippe’s friends is a programmer and they figured out a way to show 3D objects in the round digitally. We tried that out and it was great, and then I came up with the idea of animating the drawings. We tried to keep the functionality really simple and straightforward. I don't love the idea of someone looking at a painting through an iPhone, so I've been reluctant to use it for anything else. Most people spend only a few moments in a gallery looking at a painting. I'd rather them actually look at the painting
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than look at a phone. A printed book is diferent because it's a reproducible object. If you own the book, you can experience it multiple times at your own pace. It's important to do something because it's useful or interesting, not just because you can. The app portion of the book becomes a way to have an additional experience. It doesn't get in the way, and hopefully it just adds something. That’s a very valid point about the very minimal time someone looks at a painting. Have you seen any children’s responses to viewing the book through the app? Yes, children usually respond the same as adults. Confused, excited and curious. I’ve noticed there have been a handful of artists experimenting with virtual reality art experiences. Do you have any thoughts on using this technology as a medium for viewing art, and is it something you have considered exploring yourself? I've read a few books by Jaron Lanier, a pioneer of virtual reality. I think the way he discusses VR is especially interesting. He talks about it as a potentially transformative mental experience. It reminds me of a dreamlike state where things and ideas can shift and change and have diferent meanings, some kind of post-symbolic communication. I haven’t messed with it much myself but definitely would, given the right circumstances.
The other day, we were having a conversation about being the last generation before the total immersion of technology, and how the current generation will have no context for what that was like before. I feel fortunate to have been able to watch that evolution. What are your thoughts on growing up and experiencing part of history? I think every generation has diferent issues to deal with. The rapid growth of technology is especially relevant today. I imagine that major shifts in how humans interacted and communicated used to happen more gradually over the course of a generation, but now these developments might happen several times in a person's lifetime. For example, body language plays a huge role in how we communicate. We lose that with texting, but we still try to adapt and find new ways to fill in the gaps with emoticons, for example. Things get diicult when new mediums appear and are quickly replaced before we can work out the bugs, or right when we are starting to. I feel like video chatting is close to good but it doesn’t work because the cameras are in the wrong spot so there is no eye contact. It’s a small thing, but it really ruins the whole experience. Probably by the time phone developers figure out to put the camera in the center of the screen, we will be using video holograms poorly.
opposite (from left) Art Acrylic on wood 48” x 48” 2012 Leesa Acrylic on Canvas 14” x 11” 2012 left Untitled Digital Drawing
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We were trying to predict what would replace Instagram, because eventually something will, or our attention span will drift and we’ll desire something else. What are some of the impacts of social media, and more speciﬁcally Instagram, on our culture and how we view ourselves? It's interesting how a medium changes the way we perceive images. On paper, Instagram and Flickr are similar, but they're used way diferently. There is an assumption on Instagram that you are getting an inside look into someone else’s life. Flickr doesn’t function in the same way. A poorly composed photo might seem like a candid look into a friend’s life on Instagram, while on Flickr, it's just a poorly composed photo. I think it’s interesting how subtle design decisions can drastically change the way people interact with each other, for better or worse. Writers have referred to your work as post-internet art, but not as net.art. From my understanding, net.art refers to the ﬁrst generation of artists that came along with the Internet in the mid-’90s, and the current generation of artists using the tools of the Internet have been labeled post-internet art, correct? You made a good point in a previous discussion about the parallels to graffiti and net.art. Net.art refers to artists who use the Internet as a medium. I wouldn’t group myself with them, but I grew up looking at that work and was inﬂuenced by it. When I didn’t have any place for people to see my paintings, I would make work online. I didn’t necessarily think it was art at the time. I was just having fun making stuf. That’s what I was saying I like about the connection between net.art and graiti culture, just putting something out in the world and not asking for permission. Wanting to be be heard. I really like the work you made with the WaterColorBot which, for those not familiar, is a device that uses a brush and watercolor paints to recreate digital artwork onto paper. A 12-year-old girl created it. You expressed your enjoyment in making work with these kinds of easily accessible technological tools. Are there any other new technologies that could possibly be applied to your practice? New technology is an opportunity to explore. It's important for artists to experiment and find new ways to use tools and to question them. I've been trying to learn 2D modeling since 2006, but only recently figured out how to integrate it into my paintings. Pretty excited to see where that goes next. When you are physically making a piece after creating your digital draft, do you take into consideration what your work may eventually look like when it returns back to a virtual platform? I prioritize the physical form and presence. I think the documentation can only give a sense of the thing or experience.
Personally, I ﬁnd your work to be much more active and potent in the ﬂesh versus online. Yeah, for me, that is the point. Digital images lack touch but have other strengths. Ideally, I can find a bridge between them. I know you like ﬁnding ways to improve both your virtual and anatomical practice. Is it important to ﬁnd a balance between the two? Yes, the balance is what I care about. I don't think in absolutes. Taking an extreme stance seems backwards to me. Computers aren’t going away anytime soon, so we might as well try to figure out the best ways to use them instead of just accepting them as is or becoming luddites. You have learned to embrace mistakes and failures within your work, and I was wondering if you could explain how they inform your practice? Failure and mistakes are inevitable, so I've learned to go with the ﬂow. Most mistakes are disappointments, but some lead to breakthroughs. The more, the better. Your most recent exhibition, Nothing Personal, at Postmasters Gallery included only two of your 3D printed head sculptures on a table at the entrance, and they are of your mother and father. Why did you choose them as subjects, and I’m curious what they thought about being decapitated? I also noticed they were not for sale. I am always looking for heads to scan and my parents let me scan theirs. I actually decided to include the busts in the show last minute. Seemed like a nice contrast to the title of the show. I sent photos of the heads to them and they didn’t say too much, but I think they liked them.
People tend to romanticize the idea of the artist toiling in a studio, but the truth is the majority of the artists I know completely overwork themselves, clocking well over the average 40-hour work week. Do you fall into that category as well, or do you keep regular hours? Yeah, I’m definitely in that category. It doesn’t feel like work to me, though. It’s fun. I have my computer there too. I’m not always painting, sometimes just writing emails or working out ideas. Just being in there leads to things. Most of my successes come from large amounts of efort. I keep trying till something works.
opposite (from top) Eye 2 Eye Acrylic on canvas 80” x 96” 2015 Steamy Acrylic on canvas 32” x 36” 2015 above Horse Fantasy (portion of Diptych) Acrylic on canvas 60” x 36” 2015
You have admitted to getting very anxious when you spend too much time away from your studio. It's actually more that I am always anxious, and painting is a method that I have found to become calm. Painting is one of the only moments where I feel like my mind is totally clear and everything makes sense. Unless you’re eating a donut! We both have a vice for donuts. Can you remember the best donut you have ever eaten and from where? Yes, I love donuts. I have to explore more NYC donut places because my favorite is still YUM YUM just outside Philadelphia. My favorite is a white cream-filled donut with chocolate icing and sprinkles on top. Peter Pan in Greenpoint is a close second overall.
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JULIAN WASSER THE GREAT CHECKMATE INTERVIEW BY GREGG GIBBS // PORTRAIT BY JONNY COURNOYER
above left and right Marcel Duchamp at the Pasadena Museum of Art Photos by Julian Wasser 1963
LOOKING INTO THE EYES OF LEGENDARY photographer Julian Wasser, one truly senses that he can see right through you. Julian has very strong opinions about a plethora of topics. Not shy, he’ll press his life advice on those he deems worthy of his attention, whether or not they’ve asked for it. Although he is clearly in his later years, he still refuses to divulge his age. After starting his career in the Washington bureau of the Associated Press news service, he went on to create some of the most memorable images of the past century. His shots have graced the covers and pages of every major publication—Time, People, Vanity Fair, TV Guide, Playboy, Vogue, Der Spiegel—you name it. Julian Wasser has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Perhaps his most notorious photo session was of groundbreaking artist Marcel Duchamp playing chess with a naked Eve Babitz in 1963 at the Pasadena Museum of Art during Duchamp’s first retrospective. Organized by Walter Hopps, then director of the museum (now the Norton Simon Museum), the exhibition was the first comprehensive survey of Duchamp’s storied career, which began in 1911 at the legendary Armory show in New York. Duchamp, by this time, was the most inﬂuential artist in the world, having revolutionized the modern art world with his unconventional concepts. At the time, he had retired from being an artist to pursue his passion for chess. His numerous works had never been shown collectively, and the landmark show is still considered to be one of the seminal exhibitions of all time. The opening night was a who’s who of the most highly-regarded artists and collectors of the era, and efectively inaugurated the establishment of the Pop art movement. Among the group of up-and-coming artists who attended were Andy Warhol, Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha.
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left Contact Sheet of The Great Chess Match
above The iconic image of Marcel Duchamp and Eve Babitz, The Great Chess Match Staged and photographed by Julian Wasser
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above Andy Warhol, Irving Blum, Billy Al Bengston and Dennis Hopper at the Pasadena Museum of Art opening reception 1963 right Duchamp with curator, Walter Hopps
I recently collaborated with art dealer Robert Berman to create replicas of Duchamp’s various works from that seminal show to accompany an exhibition of Julian Wasser’s photographs, which opened last May in San Francisco and will head to Los Angeles at the beginning of 2016. It was an immersive journey to delve into the artist’s mind and his dynamic working process. I recreated many of his most famous artworks, including Nude Descending a Staircase, the monumental glass work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, and found a urinal that closely matched his most scandalous sculpture, entitled Fountain. To bring the show full circle, I constructed an installation of silhouette cutouts portraying Duchamp and Babitz in the famous Wasser photo. I sat down with the photographer at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica to talk about the upcoming survey, titled Duchamp in Pasadena Redux. He extolled the virtues of a healthy lifestyle and waxed poetic about his most famous photograph. Gregg Gibbs: You’re known as a photographer’s photographer, one who is pure in the perfection of his craft. What sparked your interest in the medium? Julian Wasser: When I was eleven years old, I always wanted to be in on the action: accidents, shootings, murders.
I always needed to be there and see what was going on. Photography gave me a reason to be there. So I started shooting crime scenes at a young age. Were you inspired by Weegee, the well-regarded crime shutterbug of the ’40s and ’50s? Oh yeah. I was working for the AP as a copy boy on the night shift and I met Weegee, and he let me ride with him one night. This guy was the best spot-news type of photographer ever. It just inspired me to wear a press card in my hat and carry a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. I had an outlawed police scanner, and used to steal my father’s car and illegally drive like a maniac to a scene and shoot a picture. The next day, it would be in the paper, usually the front page. I was paid ten dollars a shot. Did you also develop your own photos? I developed them in a darkened bathroom, and my mother would walk in. No one in their right mind would develop now—film is awful. You never know what you’re gonna get. You gotta do Polaroid tests, wait for hours, and each roll of film costs a fortune. Digital is a godsend, a blessing. I love digital now. The whole photo industry has gone to digital— nobody shoots with film anymore.
But digital doesn’t look as rich as ﬁlm—isn’t there a big diference between the two? No. That’s an old wives’ tale. I’ve never seen it. Maybe it exists, but I’ve never seen it. How did you end up photographing the Duchamp retrospective in 1963? Time magazine kept giving me assignments to photograph famous artists. At the time, it was guys like Ed Ruscha, who later became even more famous. It was the start of the Pop season. They gave me a plane ticket to go out and photograph this artist, Marcel Duchamp. Finally, someone had given him a retrospective. Walter Hopps was a genius— he was a really respected guy in the art world. He was the chief curator and the perfect guy for that period. Tell me about the opening night reception for the exhibition. Incredible. It was electric. Everybody from the art world from the East Coast to the West Coast was there. You just knew you’d never see anything like it again. It was really something, you could feel it. Duchamp wasn’t getting much attention up until then. This was Time magazine, which was a big deal for an artist. It was the end of the rainbow. You always stay with the principal [subject], so I just stayed with him the whole time. He put himself at my disposal.
As an underground ﬁgure, Duchamp was not necessarily popular with the general public. He railed against “retinal art,” emphasizing that the idea was more important than the object, even going to the extent of exhibiting a urinal signed “R. Mutt.” Did you know much about Duchamp’s ideas at the time? Not really. He was a really big deal in the art world. I didn’t realize he was the father of Pop art in this country. He was a Dadaist who suddenly inspired the new art movement. I remembered he did that piece, Nude Descending a Staircase, for the 1913 Armory show. So I went out there and figured he liked girls with big boobs. That gets men’s attention all the time. So I got Eve to pose with him. Can you tell me about Eve Babitz? She’s quite famous for her liberated ideas about sexuality and her celebrity dalliances around that time. Well, look at her body. She was like a woman you’d see in a painting in the Louvre. What a natural she was. Her social life was being everybody’s girlfriend—a trendy girl. Let me tell you about something that happened later. One day, at some event, she was smoking one of her cigarillos in a beautiful rayon dress, and an ash fell on her dress. It caught on fire, and burned about 80% of the nerves in her body. Today she is horribly burned, in her 70s, living alone.
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Let’s get back to the Pasadena retrospective. How did you get her to cooperate with your plan? I said to her, “Eve, I gotta photograph this artist. Do you want to model for me for this shoot I’m doing?” She knew all about Duchamp. She was thrilled—it was the biggest thing in her life. She was all for it. So I picked her up and we went to the museum in the early morning before it opened. We went in there, and there’s Marcel, this old gent. Opposite him is this naked goddess with a full body. And they simulate a chess match with all his [art] pieces behind him. He couldn’t stop looking at her. I didn’t notice what was going on. I just took the pictures. Isn’t it true that she was having an afair with Walter Hopps and that he didn’t invite her to the opening night? She wasn’t invited to the opening, so she thought she’d get naked in front of Walter and he would freak out. Again, I was just taking pictures. So you came up with the idea of Duchamp playing chess with a nude. What did Time magazine think about that? They never knew what they wanted. You never ask much because that would screw the whole thing up. They hired me to use my imagination and get something diferent. I just decided, I’ll have him with a nude playing chess—it just worked out that way. It was just another job. That picture is so popular, but it never ran in the magazine. Thank God, because I retained all the rights. Every artist in the world knows that picture—it strikes a chord.
What about the Ferus Gallery, which spawned the LA art scene and established the Pop artists who went on to great acclaim? Did you document that scene? Yeah, it was a tiny LA gallery. You had Irving Blum, Walter Hopps and Ed Keinholz, who ran the gallery. Irving was the first guy to take a chance on Warhol with the soup cans. I photographed Warhol smiling—that was a first.
left and above Julian Wasser/Duchamp in Pasadena Revisited Robert Berman at the E6 Gallery, San Francisco Photos by Julian Wasser 2015
You must have enjoyed all the diferent assignments over the years, being part of some very important events. You were there the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. You were with Roman Polanski when he went back to the house after the Manson murders. You knew the Beatles, the Stones, Iggy Pop, Farrah Fawcett, and toured with Rod Stewart. The list goes on. I had a lot of great assignments and I had a lot of lame assignments, but that is what working for a living is. There’s a lot of photographers who say,” I would never take that job.” Well, they are not real photographers. If you are assigned something, you have to do it. So then what’s the inside tip to shooting indelible images? Perseverance. Never give up, and keep trying. And you gotta be able to know when your shots are no good. Then you have to reshoot them, and if it’s shit, you get rid of it. An amateur can’t do that. They love everything they shoot.
Duchamp in Pasadena Redux appears at the Robert Berman Gallery, in conjunction with the Craig Krull Gallery, in Santa Monica, California from January 16 to February 20, 2016.
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PRO FI L E
What manifested itself with RTJ over the past two and a half years is the response to the now emblematic hand gesture featured on the album covers. That is where we begin our conversation with producer and rapper El-P about art becoming bigger than its creator and taking on new meanings in a specific moment in time and culture. Alex Nicholson: Let’s start with the logo. It's rare that a band logo or album art takes on a life of its own. Wu-Tang, The Rolling Stones’ tongue, Black Flag, and the Public Enemy logo are among the few. El-P: It came spontaneously. I had the name, Run the Jewels, and I was trying to figure out how to express that in diferent ways. It was just something that occurred to me. We were about to put together the artwork, and I took a picture of my hands doing the symbol and sent it to Nick Gazin. It just felt really direct. You recently posted those original photos on Twitter. Exactly, I put that up there for archival purposes. It just came to me, and it felt like it was the easiest, most distilled signifier of the idea behind Run the Jewels. You could look at it, not even speak English, and know what it was. And it was something that people could have physically connected to. That's how it started, man, like so many things: me sitting on my couch, probably high, just coming up with this idea. And of course, it was brought to life by the artist Nick Gazin, and subsequently, all of the amazing fans and artists who have connected and turned it into their own thing. It was not something that we really expected, but how can you possibly expect something like that?
EL-P OF RUN THE JEWELS
OUT OF THEIR HANDS
It seems like the way it spread through social media sets it apart from viral band logos and artwork of the past. The closest comparison I can think of is throwing up the Wu-Tang “W” at a concert, but this is a whole diferent animal. Not only your fans, but everyone you meet, including presidential candidates, throws up the gesture for an Instagram photo-op. I think it has been a huge part of it. It is something that turned into a gesture and went way beyond what we had even thought it was. People are throwing it up, sharing and applying it to situations that are lending it gravity, you know? Someone throws it up at their wedding. Someone throws it up when graduating from school. It’s become a signifier of empowerment, a signifier of pride and a kind of attitude. I think that once you get into that territory, you can't really claim too much control over it anymore.
INTERVIEW BY ALEX NICHOLSON WHEN KILLER MIKE AND EL-P RELEASED THEIR DEBUT album together as Run the Jewels in 2013, they tapped into an unexpected energy that has reverberated beyond just music. It’s almost become a phenomenon; a unique something that is perhaps at the heart of their friendship and creative collaboration. “We weren't looking for anything,” El-P told me. “We just found each other and everything that has happened out of it has been this roller coaster of unexpected cooperation and synchronicity.”
It’s fascinating to watch it expand and transform from album cover into so much more. When did you realize that it was growing into something you hadn’t anticipated? It became something much more as people started to throw those things up on Instagram and on Twitter. It just got bigger and bigger. Because it had grown and because all these people were taking it into their own lives, applying it, and saying, "This is what it means to me," it also grew for us and expanded who we felt we were in terms of the type of things that we were about. I like to say that we're learning
from the people who follow us, and the people who have been into our music. We're learning what Run the Jewels is about, what it can be, and about what it can mean to people, which is humbling because, in a lot of ways, we have something to live up to. When someone is throwing Run the Jewels up at the birth of their child, it means more than “this is a rap record,” you know? It's not really for us to dictate that much anymore, except, hopefully to hold up to it. We are there, hopefully, to guide it a little bit, and provide a soundtrack for something that I think is becoming a bit of an expression, almost like it has its own zeitgeist. You can't really ask for anything more than that, and you also can never try and control that too much, apart from maybe trying to control who is making money of of it. You have had the graffiti project, Tag the Jewels, in addition to art gallery shows based on Run the Jewels. There have been entire galleries launched based on that idea, with really amazing artists. There's something about it, something about the way that we want to be and the way that we want to interact with our fans that really makes sense to us—the idea of it being everyone's, the idea of it being the people's group to some degree. It becoming a part of something that other people are creating is a big deal to us. We're sort of sitting here, wide-eyed, and watching it all unfold, and just trying to try to hold up our end, you know? You guys deﬁnitely tapped into something. It feels like a unique point in music and culture where it can strike a chord with lots of diferent people. It does feel that way, and we're fuckin' amped about that because having your music connect is a feeling that doesn’t always come your way. We've been in this for a long time
and there are levels of that, but it's rare to experience something that is relating on a bigger level than just your fans or others who like the record. It's something bigger that you cannot fake. You can't manufacture that or decide to make that happen; it just naturally happens. As a guy who's been around for a while, it's rare. Symbolism and the way we communicate with each other is malleable and meant to be defined, and redefined further, to be taken, and to be made, and to join people. So, I don't know what the fuck is going on, but I do know that it's thrilling. We're kind of living out this demented fantasy because that amount of engagement with people is just something... it's amazing! Seeing it every day, seeing people relating it to their lives, is incredible, and it also puts some pressure on us to be worthy of that, you know? You're right, and it seems like it's happening a lot more in music recently—many genres working together, and a variety of people coming together. There are things that are happening in music that represent a lot of diferent people, and I think that because Mike and I naturally found a common ground with each other, that extends and becomes empowering for people. We couldn't be happier with that aspect. We want to be on the side of dope shit, and I think that's what the Run the Jewels thing is. When they throw up that sign, people are just telling us what the dope shit is in their lives. It's turned into, "I'm taking my shit. I'm taking my life. I'm enjoying this and I'm taking it." It's not aggressive towards other people, it's not fuck anyone else. In a lot of ways, it's just a war cry for being strong and being excited about life.
Read an extended interview with El-P on Juxtapoz.com
opposite Portrait by Timothy Saccenti left Run the Jewels and RTJ2 album covers Art by Nick Gazen
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MATT LEINES FLATNESS IS THE RULE INTERVIEW AND PORTRAIT BY JOEY GARFIELD
MATT LEINES’ MASTERFUL AND MYTHICAL worlds are ﬁlled with fantastic characters, cryptic iconography, and serendipitous color planes. They exist in an eye-pleasing geometry that is seemingly ruled by its own mathematical formula. His artwork resonated so deep in the early 2000s that the art world snapped to attention, propelling his career forward like a double-edged lightning bolt. But science predicts that every peak is followed by a valley, and a forced hiatus gave Matt the time to reﬂect and revive his practice. The result is a new style of unlimited potential, and his new technique adds up to large and lofty. MATT LEINES JUXTAPOZ.COM
Joey Garfield: Have you always had that scar? Does that have something to do with your eye? Matt Leines: That was a bike accident, completely unrelated. My vision was fucked up for twenty years before that. In sixth grade, I got glasses to help correct my eye problem. I was given strengthening exercises to practice, like using a penlight and red filters, but sixth graders don’t do shit like that. I can make myself see double but I never realized that you normally can’t. As a kid, if you have an experience, you’re going to assume it’s the same as everyone’s. I’m told I could get surgery but it wouldn’t fix my vision and would just be cosmetic. Part of me doesn’t want to know. This is the way I see, so why risk that?
That’s like Freddie Mercury from Queen choosing not to get his teeth ﬁxed because it could alter the way he sounded when he sang. Exactly. There are moments when I see things diferently. I feel like everything just ﬂattens out. At the store, if someone is handing me change, I’ll misjudge where their hand is, but I feel like my mind corrects for it. I’ll see things in outlines instead of tonal diferences, and with the depth stuf, geometrically, I understand how things work, so it immediately corrects. But I don’t think I see it the way most people do. So, ﬂatness isn’t just a style choice, it’s how you actually see? I’ll see stuf in 3D. But I also don’t know what everyone else sees, so I’m guessing. The way things have been described to me, I know I’m… of. That’s probably the best way to put it.
above Interior 1 Acrylic on collaged paper 40” x 23” 2010
clockwise from top right Boxhead Ink and colored pencil on paper 8” x 10” 2015 Tiger Mask Of The Folk Tradition Ink and colored pencil on paper 8” x 10” 2015
Shaman Mask Ink and colored pencil on Canson paper 7” x 9” 2015 Mask of the Wari King Boxhead Ink and colored pencil on paper 8” x 10” 2015
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I’ve noticed a change in your recent style and subject matter. It’s not so much ﬂat as it seems more ﬂowing. When I first started making stuf, it was all based on patterns and lines. If someone suggested I should draw something specific, if I didn’t know how to translate that to a specific set of shapes, I wouldn’t do it. Now I feel like I’ve added enough things to it. I’ve broken rules and figured out enough now that anything is on the table, and that’s super new and I’m excited by that. Your past work had a kind of unique geometric equation that seemed to rely on rules, and you mention breaking rules. Isn’t it good to have rules? I mean, it got me to a certain place, but ultimately, it was limiting. It’s diicult. It took me years to follow those rules, and to break them feels like such a big deal. Most people may not even pick up on them. What were some of them? There were so many rules. A lot had to do with color. One rule was that I would never draw directly from the source, like an image from a book. If I saw something in a book, I would draw it in my sketchbook, but only base everything of that sketch. Everything had to be one degree removed. Flatness is a rule. I would try to get everything to look ﬂat, like it was printed, and though it was never going to look printed that way, I would keep chasing it anyway. As time went on, the weird individual things started to disappear and everything took on more uniformity. I had one way to draw grass. Oh, I see where the trees all have U-shaped curved branches, and you don’t stray from that at all. Exactly. This is how I do this one thing. Another rule was eliminating anything that was too obvious of a connection. In the beginning, guys would wear tracksuits and sneakers, and later on, everyone needed to be in loincloths. I don’t know why, but it just happened that way. That became more important than variety in the drawings. Now, it’s sometimes the case, or the reference, which I don’t want to be too obvious. I wanted it to be special unto the world I was creating. But that’s too short-sighted of an idea. Did all those rules take the fun out of the art? It really did. But I didn’t know it at the time. Doing all the little stuf, like grass, is super therapeutic to me. The moment of doing that is meditative, so to recognize that it’s ruining the fun doesn’t happen right away. How did you recognize the limitations? It happened when my book came out. Everything was happening so fast back then. I showed very quickly out of school, and it took of for me, though I didn’t know how it worked until I got started. When I got started, it was a rocket ship that reached a point and crashed. There were a few years of being told, “Oh, this happens, so just be patient.” But places go out of business and everyone needs to diversify their roster. And you get dropped.
Once I put the book together, I saw it all again in one place, and after seeing that, I had a diferent response and I wanted to make this complete break. Keep in mind this was when the economy tanked. In my mind, if there were ever a time to fuck around, this was my window to see what I could do. What did you do? I went back to acrylics. I kept trying diferent things to get closer to what things are supposed to look like in my head, and painting played a big part. What I had been most known for was the ink and watercolor drawings. Since I wanted everything to look ﬂat, that limited my palette. I went back to acrylic painting to completely blow that open and found it also had its limitations because the process was reversed. When I draw, I do all the line work and then color; but with painting, you do all the color and the line work last. That never got comfortable and always felt weird.
opposite Building Head Ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper 8.5” x 11” 2004 above A Potato, A Palm Tree Ink and colored pencil on paper 8" x 10" 2014
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right Archer Demon Ink and colored pencil on Canson paper 8” x 10” below Three Competitors Ink and colored pencil on paper 8” x 10” 2014 location Tree 2003
The paintings did allow me to use more colors. At first, my drawings were limited to black, red, and grey, and then yellow as I developed. But I couldn’t add blue. Basically blue is the reason everything keeps changing. When I was using it with ink and watercolor, it was the one color I couldn’t get to look ﬂat. So, every time I used it, I would hide it behind a pattern, which was a lot of work just for something to be invisible. One of the reasons I went back to painting was to have more possibilities and loosen up because you can paint over things. But going back to acrylic painting after drawing didn’t mesh. It never felt right. I prefer doing the drawing first because, as I'm drawing, I start to see what the finished piece will look like in my head. It feels more natural and I have more control over making it look as I intended. I was hoping to accomplish too many things at once. I changed the scale, the subject matter and the material, so it was probably destined to fail. Then, by accident, this “rope image” became the first finished piece from this new way of working. So, after a frustrating dabble in acrylics, you went back to ink, and your style changed? Yeah. It just happened. I literally drew a little piece of rope just to practice drawing it, and I created a new way of doing line work, which is mimicking the waviness of my brush lines that came about from making the paintings. I colored it in with colored pencil, and after, like, twenty minutes, I was on to a new thing and thought, “Ok, looks like I’m going with this.” Purposely drawing that waviness to mimic the brush was an attempt to allow myself to loosen up but also resulted from letting the brush do what it wants to do, rather than being super anal about maintaining perfectly even line widths. Years ago, I was using colored pencils in my sketchbook just to see how colors work together but was never patient with it. I never considered it because if it looked loose and sketchy, it couldn’t be the finished work. Like a coloring book, that space is ﬁlled in as a suggestion of color and everyone just scribbles in that part quickly. Right, but then I was like, if I just slowed down, this could work. It took some maturity on my part that was necessary to work itself out. This approach is not in fashion. Quick and sloppy is what everyone is doing. Everyone wants results so fast. It would be great if slow would become the new fast. My friend saw my loosest attempt at painting and said, “Why not loosen it up?” and I was like, “This is my loose.” Something in my body doesn’t want to. This is as far as my hand allows. So there are new rules and new limitations, but it has solved a lot. I feel like everything is heading in the right place, and there had been a few years where it felt like it wasn’t. Now it’s exciting again.
It seems like you not only broke through with style but into a more present perspective. Yes. I feel like I am in the work now, whereas before, it was just an idea. Let’s talk about the icons you used to use a lot—the diamonds, the eyes, the lightning bolts. Did you consciously put those away? There were people doing what I was doing, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to do something diferent. You think that’s worth abandoning? It’s something I do think about because I don’t know how much just happened naturally, and how much was me purposely saying, “I’m not drawing tigers or lightning bolts anymore.” I probably did decide to take a break, but it’s starting to work itself back in because everything can exist. The possibilities now are so wide open that, in my continuation of ideas, I’m referencing my old work. What is the narrative as you now perceive it? Sometimes it boils down to good versus evil. I haven’t verbalized this yet, so bear with me. There are good people and bad people, so, for instance, there can be diferent interpretations. The bad part is a fascist, capitalist hell. The good stuf is entertainment and wonderment. Do they intersect? I don’t know because that assumes there would be a battle, but the good people are beyond fighting. It is coexistence, just like in the world. Good shit and bad shit can be next door to each other. Well, Star Wars started at episode nine. I doubt George Lucas had it all ﬁgured out prior to that. I feel like the less I have figured out, the more possibilities there are. So now I’m making things as they come out of my head, though it feels strange to talk about. As of right now, it’s what I’m going to be working on for a while. This storyline is going to continue. If I make big paintings, they will all be related. What are some narratives unique to America that are always retold but never learned? What comes to mind is the political stuf going on right now. We think we got past all the shit that’s happened in the last century, but it comes back around. For instance, monopolies were broken up and now they are back. How did that happen? If you took high school history, you should have some grasp that monopolies are a bad thing. McCarthyism is the same thing as the fear of terrorism, which just distracts from your day-to-day. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense. The communist scare was a great lesson on what we should do now with terrorism. Either it keeps happening and the powers that be just aren’t organized enough to be aware of it, or the powers that be are aware of it and are controlling it. That’s some evil.
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Getting back to art, what is your approach to pushing this new resurgence of work out into the world? If you follow my Instagram or look on the website, it will be immediately seen. There is no reason to hold it and wait for a gallery to show it.
reason not to take advantage. It requires me to hustle, but I was doing that already. There are frustrations but I know what's going on firsthand, and that's a refreshing feeling.
Do you have an interest in getting back into galleries? Everyone is afraid to talk about it. There is an artist who does this, like, Frida Kahlo mom art, and she makes millions of dollars online on her own. I spent too long waiting for people to do things for me and got tired of it. 2015 is a diferent world. Galleries are selling shit through email.
Now I directly meet people who are into my stuf and I make friendships. It’s like being a human being. It’s scary because it goes against everything I’ve done in my professional life. I’m just falling into it. In the short time that this has been the main focus, it’s been great. I know now what’s going on and I’ll take that. I realized I wanted to do things diferently but it was a matter of how, and as of today, I am saying, “This is the closest I’ve been to figuring it out.”
It sucks to have a show and then hear, “The work was wellreceived but sales were a little slower than expected.” If you don’t like it, change the rules. It’s a new era and there is no
opposite Ambassador of the Men with Lightning Fists Ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper 6.75” x 11” 2004 above The Ceremony of the Ribbon and Rings Ink and colored pencil on paper 14” x 11” 2015
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JESSE DRAXLER THE STORY OF TERROR MANAGEMENT INTERVIEW BY MIKE CARNEY // PORTRAIT BY J WHITAKER
WHERE EXPLORATION OF THE PSYCHOSOMATIC diversity that bends and distorts life's realities takes place, artist Jesse Draxler lives and works. He speaks to the uncomfortable individuals who, in his own words, breathe in a world of profound confusion, raptured by their own "best" thoughts. His artwork is an authentic look into the transitional stasis of a technologically saturated existence, and the lapse of connection, far from bridged within its void. Gesture is emotion, and emotion is yearned for. Through painting and collage, Jesse maneuvers his way in and out of a fabricated world of characters hungry to be understood.
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Mike Carney: How has the transition been for you, having recently moved from Minneapolis to LA? Jesse Draxler: Pretty smooth. I was going back and forth to LA for a while, almost an entire year before moving out here. I was able to establish both friends and collaborators that I was working with who helped with places to crash and studios to work out of until I got myself fully set up. Having had lived out there previously, what was the catalyst to bring you back? I started working with a photographer and a screen printer, and all together we were working on a clothing line. So, I was ﬂying back and forth doing that. All the while, I really loved my studio space in Minneapolis, but the city itself is just a dead end for anyone trying to make a career out of their artistic practice, and so, for a while, I was torn. Basically, what happened was, winter came [laughs]. I made the decision in November of 2014, and by the first of January, I had made the full transition.
Winter is coming… yes it is. Do you feel like you've settled in at this point? I need to feel settled to be able to work at full capacity. I'm a creature of comfort. For me to feel in my optimal head space, I need to be in the studio for, like, three days straight, totally zoned in. That need forced me to fully dive in. I recently got my own live/work space and I feel pretty set now. My studio, and the barren industrial area of LA where it is, feels like it could be anywhere in the world, which allows me to feel like I am nowhere, which is where I am most comfortable. Being an artist, illustrator and art director, do you see these as three separate practices that deﬁne you as a maker, or have they amalgamated into one art practice? They all merge. A lot of the stuf I do commercially could easily be considered fine art if it were put into a gallery. If you put a piece on a panel and hang it in a gallery for an exhibition, it's fine art. If it's published in a magazine alongside an article, it's an illustration. But it could be the exact same piece. I use illustration commissions as practice for my fine art, and most of what I art direct makes its way onto a panel at some point. So the lines are definitely blurred between all practices. Absolutely, it's all about context. Whether in a magazine, in a collector's home, on a gallery wall or existing in a social media setting, the work will carry diferent connotations. Your online presence almost seems like an extension of your practice. Although, I'm not sure if it's you trying to connect with the viewer, or if it's an opportunity for the viewer to connect with your work. I think a lot of my work is looking for a reaction. At least for me, I want the person looking at a piece to feel what I feel, right? And if I'm not achieving that goal, then it's something of a failure. I’m definitely not one to make work for an audience, though. Regardless of whether anyone will ever even see the work, it all comes from a deeply personal place. Sure, it's a question of sincerity and truths. I used to be embarrassed about this, but I think recognition from other people is important. If I'm not getting the “likes,” it means the work I felt was strong enough to share isn't resonating with the audience, although many factors must be taken into account when analyzing likes. I'm currently reading this book that talks about, with a scientific approach, how the knowledge of our own mortality dictates everything we do. There is a chapter on self-esteem. In this case, they consider self-esteem to be one’s perception of how one is regarded amongst their peers. All these studies directly point to the fact that if someone has higher self-esteem, they have lower anxiety. It validates my feelings, in a way.
opposite Untitled Mixed-media on wood panel 36” x 48” 2015 left Untitled Mixed-media on wood panel 36” x 48” 2015
left Untitled Mixed-media on wood panel 36” x 48” 2015
Right. It's totally diferent to talk about emotions in a sentient way, as opposed to a scientiﬁc way. As human beings, we are subject to our own best and worst thinking. That's all we get. That, itself, is terrifying, always second guessing yourself. You can spend an entire day alone and not know if anything that you told yourself is true. That, to me, is really scary. Even scarier is then understanding that there is no “truth,” only perception. Scary may not be the proper word here, but it's a jarring realization. I'm curious to know how that notion makes its way into your art practice. Those are the sort of feelings I strive to portray, that uncertainty, fear, and surrender. I want to portray them in a way that when you look at the work, you feel it. A lot of times these emotions can't be put into words, and can only be expressed through pictures. Like when listening to music, I can't describe the feelings that arise when I listen, they can only be expressed through the music. So, the feelings that I'm trying to make art about draw from places that are adjacent to the likes of anxiety and depression, although I hate those words as they are just generalized labels. I think of them more as voids or questions. I've had these feelings pretty much all my life, and there are no words that properly describe what it feels like. More than anything, that's the underlying tone of all my work. So, when I start asking the question, "What is wrong with my brain?” it's mostly just confusion, and then eventually a void. It’s an empty feeling, not knowing anything, which then leads to a sense of nihilism, where you can't figure anything out, so nothing matters anymore. I think my works live in the interlude between these thought patterns. It's a constant feedback loop in an endless deep tunnel, a slight droney headache, like the hum of a refrigerator. It's not an apocalyptic portrayal of humanity, but more an individual's process of trying to deal with the emotions. With that being said, is your repeated use of the human portrait the most direct way to show that? It's a recognizable signifier, instantly relatable. People will always put themselves in the place of a character, especially if that character is distorted or if they lack defining traits. When you're making these additive marks that, in the end, serve more of a function of redaction, do you view the works as being a momentary snapshot of the character, or is it more of an active struggle of an individual dealing with themselves? I think of them as existing in a transitionary stage, or as a snapshot during a transformation. Think of a moment, or when one second becomes two. In that second, there are a million other milliseconds, and those are all the dimensions we go through, where all of the possibilities of what can happen, happen. These characters live in that ﬂuid, gooey space between moments. To me, they are transdimensional shifters, transforming as they go through all of the variations.
top and bottom Untitled Mixed-media on paper (both) 24”x 32”
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right Untitled Mixed-media on wood panel 45” x 67” 2015 opposite Untitled Mixed-media on paper 24”x 32” 2015
We keep referring to the works as characters, as if they were derived or fabricated. How much of yourself do you see in each individual piece? All of it. They're all self-portraits. Is that conceited? Absolutely not. I've always viewed them that way. If they're all self-portraits, is making them your therapy? It keeps my hands busy. It feels good to make things that I like, or that I am proud of. Even if it’s a ﬂeeting pride, that’s a sort of therapy. It's less about the act of making that is the therapy and more about getting something out. Pulling out an image from inside the void that says what I was never able to put into words and sharing it, being recognized for it, or heard. It’s like needing to say something and not knowing how to say it, or the diference between wanting to be heard and having something to say. I don’t want to say anything, but I definitely want to be heard on some level. You got me thinking about this great philosophy that simply states, "Pain shared is pain lessened." That's amazing. That really hits it on the head for me. You can take part of the pain, and once you put it out there, it literally lessens. If pain were a quantity inside of you, and you physically put some of it on a panel, that's tangibly reducing it. You've talked about making in the studio as a way to try and intentionally connect with an audience, but you often make to make. Are you the type of artist who turns their mind of in the studio and falls into the creative chasm? Ideally yes, but most of the time, whether I’m working on a piece or not, my mind is constantly racing. Most of the time I’m thinking about something other than what I am actually doing. It's really hard to explain what my process is like because I employ so many diferent modes and mediums, much of the time within one piece. I try to numb myself when doing studio work. The mark-making processes are all very automatic. It could start with something as loose of an idea as a “vibe”. It's very gestural and very fast. Even when I'm working digitally, it's scribbling. When I'm working with brushes, it's scribbling. Everything is scribbling to me. So, in that part of my process, I'm not really thinking at all, other than maybe what I'm going to be eating for lunch that day. When I'm doing the collage panels, a lot of that work is already done. The image is most likely already planned out. Then it becomes cutting out the pieces and re-collaging them. I really enjoy that way of working as well. There's a system in place where the thing can just be, and I can just execute. Overall, it’s about doing what comes most natural, being aware of that, and ﬂowing with it. You talked about modes of making, between the digital work and brushwork, as being one in the same. Is that how you feel? That's how I use them. They have their own quirks, but I see them as the same. More importantly, I recognize that it’s the same hand creating with both, and thus, both mediums should be treated the same. There has to be direct, gestural mark-making in some way. I could make
marks using a trackpad or mouse, but those actions are inherent to a computer. Once I got a Wacom tablet, I saw the tablet pencil as a way to scribble like I could with an actual graphite one. In the end, no matter how digital the process, the final product is still going to be a physical piece. Digital work will get printed, and from there, cut up, like making my own collage materials, where I'll physically cut out the reworked digital print and create a new puzzle for the end product. I ﬁnd it super interesting to talk about the works as analog, tangible pieces that exist in an object-based reality. The majority of my interaction with your work happens in a digital format with a screen mediating the image in front of me. The physical information of the mark-making is often indecipherable, and therefore ﬂattens the image into a digitally-based realm, not knowing which media was used to create it. In my opinion, that's good. A question as a reaction to an artwork is a great response to have. It's an engaging point. Mystery or mystique, in general, is always going to be the most intriguing stuf. It's the unknown.
Draxler’s solo show, TERROR MANAGEMENT™, will open January 9th and run until February 20th at Booth Gallery in New York.
opposite Untitled Mixed-media on wood panel 36â€? x 48â€? 2015 left Portrait by J Whitaker
T R AV EL I N S I D ER
above Shawn Bullen and Hugo Medina Phoenix, Arizona
SHOPPING SMALL BUT THINKING BIG REIMAGINING WHAT ART BUSINESS CAN BE FOR YEARS, IT SEEMED AS IF THE ONLY ART BUSINESS given any serious attention, or even proper scrutiny, was the selling of blue chip paintings in famed galleries around the world, as if only these hallowed halls constituted commerce in art. But this was shortsighted in that it missed a huge portion of a new generation of small businesses in the art world. From emerging galleries to Etsy creatives, print shops and even the artists themselves, the art market has widened, demanding attention for platforms of real support. And, as we have mentioned time and again, Juxtapoz is a proud, independently owned small business. 2014 was the first year we teamed up with American Express and their Shop Small campaign to curate murals in several neighborhoods across the United States for Small Business Saturday. On November 28, 2015, we once again worked together for Shop Small, but with a larger focus and a more encompassing approach as to include other small business elements of the art world. Not only were 20 murals painted in cities around the US, but we partnered with fellow small business 1xRUN on a special print release of Seattle-based Mary Iverson’s painting that was featured on the cover of our August 2015 issue. We sat down to chat with a few of the artists participating in the project, discussing the neighborhoods where they painted, chosen subject matter, and why a connection with Shop Small
is important to them. The location of each artist’s mural was of utmost significance in selecting areas that captured the spirit of Shop Small, places where independent businesses thrive and can connect with the murals that were painted. Shawn Bullen, Phoenix In the center of the wall, I painted a film strip depicting 5th and Roosevelt, known as Roosevelt Row in Phoenix, with a few of the small businesses highlighted in the frames. The stop sign is replaced with the Shop Small symbol to remind people to support these businesses. Since coming to Phoenix, this has been the corner where I have returned daily for food, cofee, music, books, art and meeting new people. The portraits on the left of the film frame are people that I met at Jobot Cofee, who were eager to be a part of the mural. I painted them them pointing at their favorite place on the street. During the First Friday art walk, this corner is packed with artists, vendors and supporters. Roosevelt Row is a great example of a grassroots small business district. The cafes and bars showcase musicians and artwork on their walls, and the people in the city clearly show their support. I hope that this mural can play a little part in supporting the movement of small businesses in the area. Brandan Odums, New Orleans I have a long relationship with the shops on Bayou Road in New Orleans, one of my favorite streets in town. It’s filled with locally black-owned shops where the conversations are just as good as the products and services they ofer. Since high school, my interest in history and literature drew me to the Community Book Center where I’ve painted the mural. Years of book suggestions, debates, community meetings, and lectures were ofered there and have shaped me into the artist I am today. The opportunity to give back to a space that
above Stefan Ways Baltimore, Maryland below Brandan Odums New Orleans, Louisiana
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T R AV EL I N S I D ER
has given so much to me was, indeed, a dream come true. For this painting, I collaborated with one of my favorite street artists, READ MORE BOOKS, aka READER, and we sat down with the owner of the store, Vera Washington, and brainstormed about what message was most important to present. In the end, we decided that a challenge to the viewer to support small business, disguised as the passing-on of a book, was layered in meaning and would be most efective. Stefan Ways, Baltimore I know Highlandtown in Baltimore very well; Baltimore is my hometown. I've shown art in the neighborhood several times and curated a small mural project called Shift Baltimore on Conkling Street in a community garden this past June. Recently, a friend of mine, Kevin Bernhard, opened a vintage shop called Rust-n-Shine, so when I was approached for the Shop Small mural campaign, it seemed like a great fit. Other than the bluebird keeping a watchful eye on its eggs, most of the objects reﬂect knickknacks that might be sold in the store. I added a vintage B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) railway mug as a holder for the nest and as a nod to one of the oldest railways in the nation. Mary Iverson, Seattle Nearly every item we purchase, either from a small business or a big box store, will have seen the inside of a shipping container at some point. Either the item itself, or the raw materials that went into creating it, traveled some distance to get to our store shelves, thanks to the shipping industry. My work celebrates the beauty of this industry, with its elegant cranes, hulking mega ships and colorful freight
trains. My work also raises awareness about the existence of the shipping container and its importance in our lives. This particular mural is situated in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle, a stone's throw away from the port of Seattle. This neighborhood is home to many industrial and light industrial enterprises, plus a growing number of small businesses. While I was working on my wall, I met a lot of folks who regularly lunch at BY's, the family-owned burger joint situated next door to my mural. BY's customers are hardworking, salt of the earth folks, taking a break from a tough day's work. They were grateful for the color I was adding to this somewhat dingy, industrial part of town. Sravanthi Agrawal, Vice President, Public Afairs & Communications, American Express OPEN “The Shop Small murals, as part of Small Business Saturday, celebrate the importance of independent businesses and highlight how an entire community can come together in creative ways," says Sravanthi Agrawal, Vice President, Public Afairs & Communications, American Express OPEN. "Take Salt Lake City, where 13 children helped local artist Roger Whiting design and paint his mural through the Community Arts of Utah organization. In downtown Minneapolis, Greg Gossel's Pop art-inspired mural on Hennepin Avenue pays homage to the street's history as an entertainment hub. Art has the potential to inspire a community. The murals are meant to encourage consumers to show their love for the businesses that make their neighborhoods unique throughout the holiday season and beyond.”
above Mary Iverson Seattle, Washington
THE STORY, VISUALIZED SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS OPENS MULTIPLE NARRATIVES “THE UNIVERSE IS MADE OF STORIES, NOT OF ATOMS.” —Muriel Rukeyser “Story: Visualized” is the mission of the MFA Visual Narrative program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The concept of the program is for students to explore the dual voices of both author and artist, and consider the strengths of all media platforms, from traditional visual arts and film to interactive digital narrative platforms. Most importantly, it’s about developing the skill of storytelling, an ability that ﬂourishes with disciplined teaching and practice. This interdisciplinary MFA was launched in 2013 by Chair Nathan Fox, an accomplished artist and illustrator who has both created comics and graphic novels, as well as commercial illustration with The New York Times and New Yorker, amongst others. Fox's vision aims to prepare students to master to the market’s growing demand for visual storytellers. If the inaugural class is any indication, it looks like the program is of to a strong start. The 2015 thesis projects included an interactive, memory-based journey of a first
break-up, an animated sci-fi comic, a narrative photo book about eating alone, a love story in stop-motion animation, a handwritten journal “found” on a subway bench and an interactive children’s book/app that features edible words. To carry out this vision, the faculty is drawn from a range of creative fields and includes author/illustrator Edward Hemingway, critic/editor Bill Kartalopoulos (The Best American Comics), artist/prop designer Ross MacDonald (National Treasures: Book of Secrets, Seabiscuit), author Lisa Cron (Wired for Story), photographer Stacy Renee Morrison, Traditional Comics publisher/author Benjamin Marra, children’s literature critic/curator Leonard Marcus, design strategist Rachel Abrams, author/game producer Ben Zackheim, and TV writer Ed Valentine (Fairly OddParents, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man). —Ben Zackheim
To learn more, please visit mfavn.sva.edu
above Sashimi by FeiFei Ruan
WHAT WE ARE READING MARINE MONTAGE AND TEXT-TO-ART
MARTIN MACHADO: AN OCEAN BETWEEN US Like a ship’s log, Martin Machado’s An Ocean Between Us is big and important in many ways. Presented like a logbook, there is thoughtful deliberation on every page, paper edges as if ruffled from the churning sea. Machado attended college on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, as well as the San Francisco Art Institute, overlooking the Bay, in addition to handling deckhand duty on sailboats and commercial fishing vessels. A member of the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific, he has shipped out on container ships, crisscrossing the world in long, slow journeys of muscle and meditation, most notably on a six-month stint from New York
CAMILLA D’ERRICO: POP PAINTING Camilla d’Errico has been nominated for multiple comic awards, working with heavyweights like Disney and Sanrio, and the Vancouver-based artist has also created her own icons like Tanpopo. So there are a couple of things going for her: she’s not only walked the walk in the contemporary art world, she has thrived in it. You should take her advice. And that is exactly what Pop Painting is all about, an inspired collection of tips and process techniques on how to paint like a pop surrealist and comic book artist from someone with a skilled hand and international success. Sure, that seems like a hefty task, but d’Errico cleanly explains and properly provides step-by-step photographs of each process she is teaching. Want to work on painting eyes? Learn how to blend multiple colors? Just want advice when you hit a creative block? Pop Painting is a welcome companion. —EP watsonguptill.com
to San Francisco, as he says, “the long way.” The resulting book, mostly created at sea in his cabin, illustrates his musings on myth and history, modernity and the indigenous, in tiny brush strokes of ink and gouache that evoke archival etchings. Printed damp on River BFK paper from Monotype and hand-set Caslon type, the images are accompanied by his own poems and short stories that illuminate sights, sound and sentiment. The archival depth and quality of An Ocean Between Us, published by Oakland’s Prototype Press, bestows the weight and beauty that can only be contained in a book. —Gwynned Vitello theprototypepress.com
JUX LOGO TEE AVAILABLE NOW AT SHOP.JUXTAPOZ.COM Photo by Bryan Derballa @lovebryan Model: Sade
PRO FI L E
above (from left) David Ireland with Dumbball Photo by Elisa Cicinelli 1998 500 Capp Street (archival exterior view) Photo courtesy of 500 Capp Street Foundation 1976
DAVID IRELAND OPEN HOUSE AT 500 CAPP STREET Drive down a happy, habitual city route, and there’s a big yellow crane where a familiar store anchored the street for years, inevitably to be replaced overnight by an omnipresent multi-level, mixed-use building. Stagers swoop into the real estate market and wave magic wands for model makeovers. Painter, maker and mentor David Ireland bought the careworn 500 Capp Street in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1975 with plans to “gut my house to be a studio, a living studio… then I got into the house and saw it not in an architectural way but in a sculptural way.” The is the story of what came to be the ultimate installation, where an artist literally inhabited his work, engaging friends and neighbors in the process. Ireland died in 2009, but Carrie Wilmans bought the house and invites you to feel right at home. Gwynned Vitello: Can you describe how you came to visit the house at 500 Capp Street and make a decision within days to buy it? Carlie Wilmans: I had originally heard about the house during an accessions committee meeting at SFMOMA when the museum was proposing to buy David’s Broom Collection with Boom (1978/1988), which is one of the most iconic works from the house. Madeleine Grynsztejn, the museum’s
senior curator at the time, gave a little background about 500 Capp Street in order to put the work into context and said that the house would probably be sold. Several months later, I ran into Ann Hatch, a close friend of Ireland’s, at an event at CCA. She confirmed that David’s belongings were indeed being packed up in preparation to put the house on the market, and asked if I wanted to see it. I think this was on a Tuesday. I said I would love to, just out of curiosity. I was vaguely familiar with David’s work from the Headlands and from SFMOMA, but didn’t know a lot. On the following Thursday, I met Ann, along with Ed Gilbert of Anglim gallery at the house. They gave me a tour and a copy of the Oakland Museum catalogue of David’s 2003 retrospective, which I took home and read over the weekend. I called Ann on Monday morning and said, “I don’t know what I am going to do with the house yet, but I am going to buy it.” Was the seed for this installation planted immediately, and how did you round up the participants who helped it come to fruition? When I purchased the home in 2009, it was still filled with many of David’s objects and furniture. I first met with Ann Hatch, Dick Greene and Jock Reynolds to discuss the future
of the house. I mentioned my interest in opening it to the public, possibly having an artist-in-residence program, or perhaps establishing a study center and archive. Ann suggested, “Why not do all three?” and so we decided we would do all three. By 2012, the artwork had been crated up and the house was nearly empty. This was the first time I truly saw the house itself as a work of art. It was an incredibly powerful experience, and as a team, we knew pretty quickly we wanted to do a minimal installation for the inaugural exhibition in order to highlight the house as David’s masterpiece. In addition, SFMOMA has loaned to us for the opening installation the important broom piece that first introduced me to David’s work and is now in the museum’s collection. We’re thrilled visitors will have a rare chance to experience this sculpture in its original context. Given that the Mission District is now the epicenter of hipness, do you have a vision of what it was like for David living there in the 1970s? When Ireland moved to the Mission in 1975, it was already beginning to undergo massive change but was still a very diferent place. We know that David quickly made friends with his neighbors and became a fixture on the scene. To this day, when our staf are working outside the house, we
get stopped by people who remember David and share their stories. To them, he was not Ireland, the famous artist, but simply a wonderful neighbor who cared for his community and always said hello. This aspect of David’s life is part of the legacy we aim to preserve—not just his artwork, but also the sense of community he created around 500 Capp Street.
above 500 Capp Street (interior view); dining room Photo by Henrik Kam, November 2015 Courtesy of 500 Capp Street Foundation
Do you know any elements of his childhood, education or travels that particularly contributed to his appreciation of the vitality of the house, that it was more than a restoration? Because Ireland began his full-time art career in middle age, many people have said that he lived multiple lives. But his life path seems to be a natural progression and is clearly reﬂected in his art practice. In the two decades that fell between David’s completion of a Bachelor’s degree at CCA in 1953 and his graduate work at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1974, he followed a winding path through military service, marriage, fatherhood, insurance sales, carpentry, and extensive world travels. When he finally returned to San Francisco and began his 30-month “maintenance action” at 500 Capp Street, his original intent was to gut the house and use it as studio. But he soon grew to see it in a sculptural way, perceiving his activity as an artistic endeavor more than a simple architectural renovation.
PRO FI L E
Similarly, was there another artist, teacher or mentor who inﬂuenced his very broad deﬁnition of art beyond a canvas? One of Ireland’s great inspirations was the conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp. Visitors to 500 Capp Street will find Duchamp’s portrait throughout the house, including most prominently in David’s upstairs study. Duchamp is, of course, most widely known for his readymades and his rejection of art made simply for aesthetics. He wanted to put art back in the service of the mind—a notion that clearly resonated with with Ireland. David also credits many of his friends and contemporaries from the San Francisco Art Institute as important inﬂuences and “teachers,” including Tom Marioni, Howard Fried, Kathan Brown and Paul Kos. How do you think his travels to Africa, as well as his stint there as a safari guide, inﬂuenced his art? David’s travels had an enormous inﬂuence on the aesthetics of the house. Prior to restarting his artistic practice in the 1970s, he owned a company called Hunter-Africa, which led guided tours through Tanzania and Kenya and imported and sold African collectibles out of a small shop at 1739 Union Street. The impact of this time in David’s life can be readily seen in his artwork—from his many Africa-shaped wire sculptures to the Massai-inﬂuenced mud-patties applied to the interior walls of 500 Capp Street. Visitors to his home encountered animal skulls, carved figurines, and other relics from his safari days, especially in the dramatic dining room. Inﬂuences from Ireland’s travels in Asia are also very present. He was an avid reader of Zen philosophy and poetry, and those ideas inform his conceptual practice, most notably in his iconic Dumbballs.
More on the patties and Dumbballs, please. Ireland was very conscious of process in both daily life and when creating works of art, and his Dumbballs [made between 1982-2009] are works in which process is most central. Basically, to create one, he would pass wet concrete back and forth between his hands for about ten hours until it hardened. Concrete requires very close attention to be molded. If he was true to the process, he created a perfect sphere. However, if he became distracted and set the Dumbball down before the process was complete, it came out misshapen. Ireland called these Smartballs. So adhering to the process of creating a Dumbball is the only way to produce a successful one and Ireland believed that anyone could create one as long as they followed that process. The Dumbball also has its beginnings in Ireland’s desire to create a non-shape or a non-designed object. After having a discussion with a gallery owner who told him the very act of putting efort into non-designing means he is in fact designing, he decided to give way to the idea of process. That’s also when he began his maintenance action on 500 Capp Street. While stripping wallpaper, David thought he was starting to get some feeling for process. He spoke of the “perfection of the process,” and, “how well it comes out in the mind.”
500 Capp Street opens to the public in January 2016. Constance Lewallen’s book, 500 Capp Street, is published by University of California Press.
above (from left) 500 Capp Street (interior view); upstairs back parlor Photo by Henrik Kam Courtesy of 500 Capp Street Foundation November 2015 500 Capp Street (interior view); upstairs hallway with Broom Collection with Boom (1978-88), untitled chair, and wallpaper patties, 1978 Photo by Henrik Kam Courtesy of 500 Capp Street Foundation November 2015
THINGS WE ARE AFTER SKATE, DRAW, RUN THE STREETS
AQUA TWIN MARKERS BY MOLOTOW When Molotow told us about their new marker, we stopped at their dictum: It’s “the most sustainable Twin Marker ever.” Sustainable is the hot word these days, and we subscribe. The MOLOTOW™ Aqua Twin is best for users with high consumption, i.e., the grinders who spend hours and hours making art. The water-based ink, reﬁllable at least 50 times, is 100% odorless so you won’t smell like toxics all day. For your technical needs, the Aqua Twin has a 1 mm brush tip and the 2-6 mm broad tip. Made In Germany! molotow.com
BARON VON FANCY WOMEN’S CAPSULE COLLECTION BY VANS With our cover feature dedicated to the ﬁne art of sign painting, wanting to be covered head to toe in title design, we had to ﬁnd some emblematic shoes. In teaming up with wordsmith and contemporary nostalgic artist Baron Von Fancy, Vans came through with a woman’s shoe collection of classic slip-ons, SK8-Hi Slim Zips, and the Authentic. All feature Von Fancy’s signature hand styling for some happy feet, like having a 1950’s sign painter mark your shoes with 2015 laughs. vans.com
MARCEL DZAMA 7-DECK STUDIO SERIES BY GIRL SKATEBOARDS We admit when we have an art crush, so from the Royal Art Lodge days to his exceptional performance art, Marcel Dzama is someone to be into. The Winnipeg-born, NYC-based ﬁne artist has collaborated with folks like Raymond Pettibon, Spike Jonze, Arcade Fire, and McSweeney’s, and now he has teamed with Girl Skateboards on a special 7-deck “Studio Series.” This will be the second installment of the series that last saw Jules de Balincourt’s art with Girl. Each deck coincides with a Girl team rider, so you get your Koston, Carroll, and Malto as part of the limited-run release. girlskateboards.com
S I EB EN O N L I FE
SHARING IS CARING STAY IN SHAPE I RECENTLY HAD THE PLEASURE OF GETTING A one-on-one skateboard deck shaping tutorial from Paul Schmitt. For the uninitiated, Paul has been manufacturing high-end skate decks since 1983. He's widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and skilled deck crafters in the skateboarding industry, and I've personally worked with him for nearly a decade: me supplying art for boards and Paul handling the fabrication. Yet, somehow, I had never actually witnessed the process of a board being shaped, cut out and sanded. It's funny to know so little about something you love so much. I left the session with my mind buzzing, amazed at how much I'd learned in a few short hours. Probably the majority of people reading this column don't skate and have no interest in the subject matter. So what's in this article for you? The point I'd like to make is that: no matter what niche of art (or life in general) interests you, there are sages out there with lifetimes worth of wisdom and advice. Seek those people out, as it’s surprising by how
many are eager and willing to impart wisdom. If you spend your life studying something, chances are you're going to relish the opportunity to talk about it. There's a ﬂip side to this as well: I think all of us should be willing to take time out of our lives to educate younger generations of artists. Whether that be by simply replying to emails and social-media queries or by participating in mentoring programs—share your knowledge, people! Pursuing art as a career can be a pretty solitary/isolating existence, and getting feedback from contemporaries or elders in your field can go a ridiculously long way in terms of bolstering motivation. Let's open up the lines and open up some minds! Was that too hippie? If so, my apologies. I'm getting pretty "one love" in my 40s. If you see me trying to grow dreads, please ask my wife to slap me back into reality. Thanks in advance. —Michael Sieben
Photo by Michael Sieben
JANUARY 27 - 31 LA CONVENTION CENTER, WEST HALL A A SELECTION OF GALLERIES CURATED BY NOAH ANTIEAU & GREG ESCALANTE ANTLER GALLERY đƫARTISTS REPUBLIC 4 TOMORROW đƫCOAGULA CURATORIAL COPRO GALLERY đƫDANIEL ROELNIK GALLERY đƫFLOWER PEPPER GALLERY GAUNTLET GALLERY đƫGREGORIO ESCALANTE GALLERY đƫMADHAUS GALLERY PARADIGM GALLERY + STUDIO đƫRED TRUCK GALLERY đƫTHINKSPACE
P O P L I FE
MIAMI BEACH & NEW YORK CITY BASEL 2015, MANA CONTEMPORARY, AND MORE
SURF LODGE AT THE HALL 1 | As part of our ongoing partnership with Shepard Fairey and Art Alliance, Juxtapoz co-hosted a dinner during Basel Week in Miami to kick-off the new Provocateurs exhibition taking place at SXSW 2016. February 2015 cover artist Sage Vaughn and studio manager Anthony Anzalone put together a special installation in The Hall’s entrance... and stayed to hang out.
2 | Jahphet Landis of TV on the Radio with actress Nathalie Kelley.
3 | Juxtapoz co-founder Greg Escalante of Copro Gallery and Gregorio Escalante Gallery says hello to ﬁlmmaker Colin Day.
5 | Invader capped off a run through NYC’s streets with his own version of a mural at Mana Contemporary’s large complex in Jersey City. The mask was his call.
JONATHAN LEVINE GALLERY
4 | Eric White celebrated the release of his beautiful new monograph with a signing at Rizzoli’s bookstore in Manhattan.
6 | Augustine Kofie’s standout solo show, Inventory, opened at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in late November, but quickly became one of our favorite exhibitions of the year.
Photography by The Surf Lodge (1—3) and Joe Russo (4—6)
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P O P L I FE
LOS ANGELES SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS, LAUNCH LA, AND WORK IN PROGRESS
1 | Good, talented dudes in a row: Haroshi, Bill McRight, Ben Venom, Lucien Shapiro, Kevin Earl Taylor and Noah Elias line-up at the opening of A Primitive Future at Subliminal Projects.
3 | Marion Lane turned Pop Life into proper artistic portraiture during the opening of New Work, her third solo at Launch.
2 | Frohawk Two Feathers not only showed work in the exhibition, but had the best look of the night.
4 | Roger Gastman and Doug Davis took over the curation duties for the Work in Progress show in Downtown Los Angeles with a stellar line up that included Chicago artist, POSE. He says what’s up.
WORK IN PROGRESS
5 | Cleon Peterson changed up his medium and gave neon a little vengeance. 6 | Curator Gastman with two Jux cover artists and longtime friends: Camille Rose Garcia and Richard Colman.
Photos by Sam Graham (1—3) and Dave Tada (4—6)
PRO FI L E
ICY SIGNS BUILDING A HANDMADE LEGACY YOU CAN SET UP A SIGN SHOP WITH A SHEET OF plywood, two hinges and a length of two-by-four lumber. That’s the easy part. You need to find help to set it up; ideally, quality people who have skills and strength to share. And that’s the hard part. In the case of ICY SIGNS, finding the help is the best part. Mike Levy and Dan Murphy showed up when another guy called out. They had great attitudes and great music to share, and that other guy never got called back. Learn a lesson from that: your entire future could depend on it. Then, on a sign project in Cincinnati, my hosts asked me if I wanted to work with a local sign writer named Justin Green. "Legendary inventor of the autobiographical comic Justin Green?" Yes! We had a great summer fighting in front of a class of kids we were teaching to sign paint. It was loud but not angry; we were just getting to know each other. At the end of the summer I told him, "You’re like a father to me. I hate my father." He understood, we're great friends now. I drafted Matt Wright to set up the shop in Coney Island. Matt apprenticed with Peter Levine and Ray Padilla at Quik Signs in Brooklyn, and the last sign writer I know of to get trained in the classic "sweep the ﬂoor and get mocked" tradition. Matt brought Mike Langley, who is the rarest of the rare. He can build stairs and paint inch-high letters. Mimi Gross painted with us in Coney—a fine artist and the ﬂesh-andblood memory of art in NYC. She tells me to paint what I see and not make it up, and because of this, we were the first Coney Island sign painters in 40 years to paint knishes that looked like knishes. Alexis Ross got wind of what we were up to in Coney and we watched him boss up. He only knew a couple things about sign painting before he came out, and then showed us how to make it a fully functioning scene. I met Sean Barton in Pittsburgh, then he moved to LA and within a year of painting with the pros out there, he got so good I couldn’t see him with a telescope. Eric Davis stopped painting signs in the 1990s and didn’t think he would ever do it again until he saw our shop. Finally, the newest and rawest talent on the bench, Tim Curtis, fresh from 7.5 years in lock-up, went from an 80 square-foot cell to the 6,400 square-foot rotunda of the Brooklyn Museum. He's there now, writing out another chapter of the ICY SIGNS story, one line at a time. —Steve Powers
All images courtesy of ICY SIGNS Brooklyn, NY
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february 2016 - JUXTAPOZ