Posts filed under ‘art’

The things I chose to keep to myself

– posted by russellmania3000

To the best of my knowledge, I had thought Sam was either in France or dead of bowel cancer, and for my intents and purposes, there isn’t a big distinction between either scenario. But she’s back States-side and if I know her at all she’ll be riding the I-hate-it-here wambulance for a spell, so I guess we’ll see if any further contributions from her are forthcoming. I’ve been terrible busy and working on and off on a long-form piece on Jim Henson, but this is more temporally pertinent, and if I were to go another week without writing anything, I may as well give Redikulus up for keeps.

Until earlier in March, I hadn’t gone to see anything on First Friday in several months; all too often I’m too late getting there or too disillusioned from the last time I went so I skip the galleries and go straight to the bar. This month, I avoided Old City altogether and opted for a few spots I’d never visited, which didn’t really help with the disillusionment but at least it wasn’t ass-to-ankles crowded.

First stop: Juanita & Juan’s for the launch of Megawords issue 10. In case visitors didn’t want to physically handle a zine, a copy had been unbound and the pages had been tacked to the wall, which really deprives you of the experience of paging through 112 pages of in crowd ego stroking that “reflects upon the exhibition’s thirty-one days as a physical outlet for creativity in a melange of color and black and white photographs, reproductions of storefront plans and proposals, and written reflections about the project.” In other words, a scenester scrap book, in effect a publication whose subject is itself. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was perhaps not their strongest issue.

Second stop: Vox Populi had a exhibition called Bivouac which included: creepy drawings of Snow White; photos of constructivist/readymade-ish sculptures; film of guy telling molestation story while molesting wad of clay; film of naked Juggernauts; film of hands paging through book. There was also a performance/installation piece called Rented Time, consisting of: balloons; giant cigarette carton spinning on wall; guy in Halloween costume making funny noises, breaking in and out of character. Also three really scrawny guys talking about their weightlifting routines in the corner. Next please.

Third stop: Tiger Strike Asteroid. No link for this place, not a huge surprise, because the name should be a dead giveaway that it was just some art students’ loft. In one room they had hung what looked to be someone’s projects from a freshman year design curriculum, over-performing homework assignments but under-performing pieces of art.

Fourth stop: Toy Factory. Again no link, but again this was just another loft apartment with a name, and in some extra space adjacent the kitchen were a couple found object sculptures and some pseudo-Giger-ish drawings with Game Boys, Transformers and a smattering of other pop culture ironies-du-jour. The antique movie camera converted into a music box was a hugely redeeming factor to an otherwise lackluster display.

I should also mention something about the ambiance of these last two places. As if going into smaller spaces doesn’t already sometimes feel like you’re intruding on a private engagement, entering these last two spots, glorified residences as they were, definitely felt like I inadvertently stumbled into the wrong room. Tiger Strike Asteroid was confined and crowded and full of chatter, the place was pretty sparse, most signs of inhabitation had been tidied away, and there were definitely, like, senior citizens there, presumably done with Vox Populi and just poking around, so that wasn’t so jarring. But Toy Factory was far more awkward in that the place was larger, emptier (of people) and had all the trappings of a very cozy, comfy home. Lived in, is the phrase. A small crowd was to one side and speaking quietly amongst themselves if at all, lounging about rather than huddling together like you do when in unfamiliar territory, and one guy was in an adjacent living room watching a skateboard video like it was Tuesday. And there was a blind dog with cataracts the size of dinner plates. It felt too personal for comfort.

Contemporary art, like much of all art, is self-indulgent to an extent, but usually it comes off as an adverb, as in “this piece self-indulgently but successfully renders so and so” or “this guy paints really well, albeit a little self-indulgently.” But this month more than any other I can remember, the work I saw seemed to embrace self-indulgence in a new and profound way, as sort of the object noun/central thesis/raison d’etre. You know violence for violence’s sake or sex for sex’s sake? Well…yeah. How exquisitely postmodern. More on this to come.

Bonus round: Khmer Art Gallery. You know how in like every kung fu movie there’s some smarmy Brit who’s stealing truckloads of Chinese artifacts and selling them to “the institute” for major ducket? This place is like that dude’s hideout, only substitute Chinese for Cambodian and smarmy Brit for portly, middle-aged hippy lady. I mean, their collection is so extensive it feels pillaged.

Bonus round 2: More recently I popped over to the PMA, because, you know, what the hell, can’t be worse than First Friday. They have an exhibition on called Cézanne and Beyond which is quite possibly worth the $24. Among others, there’s some lesser-known works by Picasso, Matisse, Jasper Johns, Max Beckmann, Giacometti, Gorky, Braque and Mondrian, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. There was also some Japanese photography and a small Gehry exhibition, which is neat if you’re into Gehry.

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March 18, 2009 at 12:01 AM Leave a comment

One City to Check Out One Night

sure, it looks nice from over here and with a nice filter...   © Flickr user nicoatridge

sure, it looks nice from over here and with a nice filter... © Flickr user nicoatridge

If you’re like me, you probably have no reason to go to Newark most of the time. Unless it’s to pick up some German friend of yours from the airport, or because your friend from Jerz swears they have a good reason to go. There is a good reason to go next week, March 6th 2009, and I want all of you to go because I unfortunately cannot. It’s sure to be an impressive show, I give you:

holy crap that's a lot of people!

holy crap that's a lot of people!

One-hundred artists? That’s amazing. One-hundred artists who are all alive and producing art? Even more amazing. Collective shows are always interesting in the way that the pieces inevitably show some sort of relation from one artist’s work to the others. It’s that idea that if you spend enough time with other people you start to pick up on  their mannerisms, and in this case, artistic preferences. I don’t know how many of these people know each other, and the reality is that most of these people probably don’t know each other, but that makes it more intriguing to me. The scope of this show is going to stretch a wide variety of mediums and topics. This is held at a place called Jajo Gallery, and it looks like they have a fairly good time here judging by the party pictures.

I found out about this show because my best friend, Emily Kane, has been working a full-time job during the day, and dedicatedly working on new works for the show at night.

this is her day job with Jeni, Fritillaria Earring © De Mi A Ti

this is her day job with Jeni, Fritillaria Earring © De Mi A Ti

The most impressive artists to me are those who are severly dedicated. I’ve never questioned her dedication, even if she could talk her way into good math grades in art school. I am definitely disappointed I will be missing this show, not just for the 99 other artists who will be there, but to miss a good friend’s first show. You will definitely see more coming from her in the future, but here’s and example of her work:

holy crap, that's a big drawing! © Emily Kane

holy crap, that's a big drawing! © Emily Kane

Another friend of mine will be showing his work at the show too, but he’s a great deal more secretive about his process and what he’s working on. Pillis has been up to some really spectacular video and animation lately, and I would hope he is going to share some of that at this show. You can check out some of his past work at his blog.

February 23, 2009 at 4:15 PM 1 comment

Nifty Fifty Shmifties

everybody must parade!

everybody must parade!

I haven’t done a design or illustration post in a while, and I need to redeem myself as an illustrator. While paging through an old Print magazine, I came across a book review for Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation. I could only see the cover, pictured above, but I knew that this book was for me, and I will soon be in ownership of it! The author, Amid Amidi has also put together a very nice blog, which I have now added to my ever extending list of bookmarks. This is a great supplement to those fans of the wonderful retro blog, GrainEdit, who wish they would update more. They definitely believe in quality over quantity, and I’m not complaining.

the hardest way to play!

the hardest way to play!

I’ve mentioned being into fun drawings before, whimsical characters and drawings. I have not mentioned Jim Flora, who’s work is pictured. He was a really great designer from the fifties. Now I also translate this appreciation to 50s animation as well. Fifties animation had a great style, that also featured off set inking. (Note for non-artists: off -set is when the ink color and the line don’t match up, aka off-registration printing) It also features really great textures and color themes and mixtures that are really unexpected. I wasn’t able to figure out why I was so drawn to this style until about a month ago when I saw a Mr. Magoo cartoon for the first time in several years.

caution: blind man with a temper stuff in traffic

caution: blind man with a temper stuck in traffic

When I was younger, I really had a thing for old men, Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson included. The cartoon old man Mr. Magoo is really great, and I know why I liked it so much. He’s such a strong willed little man for being blind, and he always knows what he’s talking about. I think I developed a great deal of my personality from watching Mr. Magoo navigate his way around the world. He’s very sassy, which I think I’m pretty sassy. He also inadvertently becomes the center of a catastrophe frequently. Plus he acts like he’s drunk the majority of the time, becoming increasingly demanding and condescending of other characters. The cartoon is a visual feast of stuff I’m about to rip off! Netflix will be delivering a DVD to me shortly.

I think I would like to live here

I think I would like to live here

This brings me to a studio who is cleaning up with their monopoly of this style. Invisible Creature is two guys, brothers, sitting around and drawing, having a grand old time. At least that’s what I imagine, but I know they must be working very hard to be producing the amount of work that they do. I mentioned Grain Edit earlier, and they were great enough to have featured Invisible Creature in one of their artist interviews. These interviews are really great because they usually feature some tips from the artist on how to create these visuals yourself. How wonderful is that? Wonderfully nice! I’m not so nice, I probably wouldn’t reveal my secrets.

Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature

Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature

WOW! Doesn’t this all look like so much fun. Well, it’s the weekend, go off and have yourself some!

-posted by samsquared

February 20, 2009 at 8:04 PM 2 comments

Sam on Wire

Sometimes I’m sitting around, around my friends, and I think to myself, “Wow, I’m really lucky I know these people, they are really interesting and fun. They never fail to surprise me.” I have friends of mine to thank for these posts, because they surprised me with something fun and awesome. Last week it was tight-rope walking.

that high up? no thank you.

that high up? no thank you.

Not everyone rushes out to see little french men running across a tight-rope, or to see a french-language film. I am not one of those people. If the movie is in french, its enough to make me run out and see it. The last foreign film I saw in the theatre was Man on Wire. We have a ginger man, who is very animated, and very good at story telling (wow, kind of sounds like me, only I’m not a man). He desires to walk between the World Trade Center towers, and does so while they are still in construction. Despite this being a documentary, it’s very much like an action film, leaving you filled with suspense and wonder. Thus, I was enchanted with the idea, but I have a fear of heights, so this kind of walking was not in my future.

My friends have installed a slack line in their loft. One of my new friends is from California, and normally can’t stand the bitter cold of Philadelphia. (Although, we are enjoying a very nice warm spring-like week here currently). Next thing I knew, and my ambition knew, was that I was attempting to walk on the line several times with my barefeet. It’s with the utmost conviction you overcome the physical challenge of aligning your body straight, to balance yourself and be unaffected by the inevitable falls of a first timer. Here’s where I would post a picture of people slack lining, but apparently it’s really popular with hippies and people who don’t wash their hair. We are not those people, and I won’t post dirty hippies on my blog. So here you have some feet:

© All rights reserved. sun heefairee at Flickr.com

© All rights reserved. sun heefairee at Flickr.com

I also would recommend drinkin’ some beers. You are going to fall a lot. If you live in the cold and decide to do this inside, putting some mats down might be better than landing on the hardwood floor, or whatever other hard surface you may have in your large space for tight rope walking. Otherwise, just wait til it gets warm. I hear landing on the grass is easier, but I’m trying to get hard, so I’ll take the rough landing. Happy Circusing!

-posted by samsquared

February 10, 2009 at 4:23 PM 2 comments

coming soon: space in your face!

nebulaaaahhhhhhzzzzz

nebulaaaahhhhhhzzzzz

No, not this space. Although, space pictures are really cool. I’m a big fan of nebulae, because it’s like making shapes out of clouds, only they are sweeter. Because they come in super radical colors, and plus that’s where stars are born. That’s all pretty badass to me, but then again, I still love going to the planetarium. Don’t hate.

theselby.com

theselby.com

Also,this interior space is also not in your face. It could be. I wasted several hours looking at these interiors. Owned by people who presumably have cooler lives than I do. (Or at least nicer houses and apartments). The photography is truly interesting. I can thank one of my favorite online writers for this find, Rosecrans Baldwin. He writes for the Digital Ramble column in the New York Time Magazine’s The Moment. He’s coming out with a book later this year, so I’ll keep you posted on that. For now you, can also catch him on The Morning News, an online publication that he helped to start in 1999.

The space I’m talking about is the one being carved out by N.A.S.A. It’s okay, I also thought that our space program might be releasing an album of ambient space noises, asteroids colliding, or secrets hidden alien tracks recorded for the past 30 years. It’s actually a collaboration between two L.A. based DJs and their friends. If that saying is true about the company you keep, this album is going to be awesome. Their new single, Money (see video below) is going to be making them just that. It features David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, and Z-trip. If that’s not enough for you, their album is going to be released featuring covers by five artists: Shepard Fairey, Marcel Dzama, Sage Vaughn, The Date Farmers, and Mark Gonzales.

Sidenote: Russ really likes how I manage to reference Shepard Fairey all the time. It’s not my fault he’s popular and people love to blog about him, take pictures of his installations, and crowd his openings. So in an attempt to write about other things I’m interested in, it was only fitting that Shepard Fairey ironically show up anyway! I heard he designed this poster people may have heard about, it had to do with our new president. I also heard that the poster is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

inauguration installation

inauguration installation

Last spring I chased two of my favorite men, (who are also extraordinarily fast walkers, it’s a light jog of a pace for anyone of the short legged nature) around the galleries in New York . One of the best shows I’ve ever seen was by one of N.A.S.A.’s cover artists at the David Zwirner Gallery. Marcel Dzama’s Even the Ghost of the Past was on display, with the first room dedicated to paintings and sketchbooks. The second room was dark with two displays of his sculptural work. The third room was a theatre for a black and white video installation. One of the things he is most noted for is his muted color palette, which is attributed to his using a root-beer paint for the variations in browns he achieves. He also kept amazing company in a collective known as The Royal Art Lodge, with Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber, Drue Langlois, Jonathan Pylypchuk, and Adrian Williams. Marcel features work in several galleries. I’ve seen some minature sculptures at a gallery in Philadelphia, as well as a print of his featured in a show at F.U.E.L. gallery. His sculptural work and video is as equally and as darkly enchanting as the rest of his work.

Owl Troubles, 2003

Owl Troubles, 2003

May I suggest keeping good company? It seems to be working out for everyone else.

-posted by samsquared

January 26, 2009 at 8:59 PM Leave a comment

Adventures in consumption

posted by russellmania3000

We are apparently in the throes of a recession. I wouldn’t know. But I have little doubt that at this point we’re mostly doing it to ourselves. Forget whatever weak housing markets or flawed “financial instruments” or incorrect models you’ve been told of to explain away why. You know what causes a recession to continue? Talking about the recession every goddamn day.

I find it odd that people respond to economic downturn by saving more money, since our economy is defined pretty much by how much we spend, not how much we have. The funny part – as in funny strange, not funny ha ha – is that, if you buy into the Paradox of Thrift, by spending less we actually save less than if we were to spend normally. I know that seems illogical but that is why something like this is called a paradox rather than, say, a law.

Though Sam has lately been on some sort of crazed anti-consumerist crusade, I haven’t personally felt the recession, at least not yet, so I recently posted on some of the newly purchased artwork that I’ve hung in my home, and today I’d like to continue giving props to the creative individuals who have tricked me into giving them my goddamn chips, but this time for neat things that cannot be framed and hung on walls. It’s not my intention to turn Redikulus into some kind of NOTCOT-ish celebration of materialism. I’m simply doing my patriotic duty to stimulate the economy.

By the way, “stimulus package” is my new favorite sexual euphemism. Try that one on and see if it doesn’t tickle you ever so slightly, you gigglepuss you. Okay here we go.

Books

Malfunction - Eric Joyner

I’m currently trudging through Infinite Jest and I have Sidewalk, Collapse, and Godel Escher Bach waiting in the wings. I know, some light recreational reading. So I picked up some lighthearted fare to refresh me when I need a break. I found this Giger book at a local comic shop and it’s way cheaper than any other Giger book you’ll find but just as comprehensive, good quality reproductions and all that. While I was there I picked up Flight Vol. 5 and Eric Joyner’s Robots & Donuts. Flight is without a doubt the most gorgeous and heart-warming series of comic anthologies I’ve ever seen, an absolute joy to look at and read. And Eric Joyner is a terrific painter, even if you’re not into robots or vintage toys.

Kobe - FreeDarko

But far and away the best book purchase I’ve made lately is FreeDarko‘s Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac. This book has been getting a lot of good press from every angle, but I’m not sure about this “you don’t have to like basketball to like this book” idea that a lot of reviewers have been floating. I work in the NBA so whether I like basketball or not isn’t really up to me, but the Almanac makes me like it more but for bizarre, twisted reasons. The book is an otherworldly amalgam of gorgeous illustration, inventively hilarious charts and sports writing that intelligently weaves in science, history, art, and mythology to paint players as cosmic archetypes of style and super- (or sub-) human feats. Their blog is good, but doesn’t even hint at the analytic onslaught the reader is in store for. And the authors occasionally, though more so in the blog or other writing, let the fact that they’re Jewish peek through, which is … what’s the word I’m looking for … charming.

Clothes

Candy Floss

My man Gene, who works up at Dock Street where they make delicious beer and pizza, has a fledgling clothing line going called Candy Floss, and their stuff ain’t cheap but it’s quality. FreeDarko and Damon Soule also make classy shirts in addition to their prints, books, toys, etc.

World of Goo

Games

At a younger age, I used to insist that video games were an art form, but now that this idea is largely accepted and I’ve moved on from wanting to design them for a living, I’ve stopped evangelizing on this. With more demands on my time and better things to do, I don’t really have as much interest in games as I used to. But every now and then, a game comes along that reminds me of both why I loved them so much and the creative potential in the medium. Right now that game is 2D Boy‘s World of Goo. It’s also gotten press and a few award nods lately, though some of you may have been hip to this thing back when it was Tower of Goo at Carnegie Mellon’s Experimental Gameplay Project. You won’t do much better than this for $15 (Wii) to $20 (Mac/PC). It’s got intelligence, humor, charming visual direction, strangely touching music, memorable levels and a well-designed progression of difficulty and physics-based play mechanics. I do so hope 2D Boy makes fleshing out The Swarm their next project. Also, though it’s not by Kyle Gabler and it probably wouldn’t make a good finished product, On a Rainy Day is pretty great batty fun.

Music

It’s been over a month since I attended Blip but I’m still sort of on a chiptune/electronic music kick, though much less than in the days immediately following. Except for a few rare instances, I haven’t been in the habit of paying for music for many years. So as luck would have it, most of these 8-bit artists are total computer nerds and put out a lot of their music for free online anyway. Of the guys I haven’t already given nods to, recently I’ve been favoring Trash80, Stu, and Nullsleep. Speaking of which, Nullsleep is playing 8static (who knew there was a Philly scene for this stuff? Not I.) on Feb 7, and Starscream are no slouches either so I’d consider showing up if I were you.

January 19, 2009 at 4:47 PM Leave a comment

Your ankles are mighty sexy..

There are some people out there who believe they were born in the wrong century. I must admit, I sometimes feel this way too. However, upon a recent discussion, my friends were talking about how the 1800s were really where its at. I had to disagree. If too much of your ankles were showing at this time, you were a harlot! And I love wearing jeans a whole heck of a lot. Seriously, you had to pretend like you had no sex drive, and you couldn’t even discuss sex. I sometimes wonder how people even knew how to do it back in the olden days.

recently-deflowered-girl-01-thumb

I do like old ‘racey’ illustrations. Today I found these Edward Gorey illustrations. This is a great article, because this guy is as much into Children’s writers getting all pervy and weird with their adult material as I am. Many people are unaware of the favorite Childhood authors, who also have amazing adult works. One of my favorites is Roald Dahl’s short stories. He used to write for Playboy starting in the 60s, and one story has the subtle title of  Bitch. Bet you didn’t borrow that from your local library when you were a kid.

The problem with a few of these stories and illustrations is that some of the content was only relevant at the time. Some stories but mostly the comics leave me feeling out of the loop. Do not let this deter you, there are far more that are surprisingly timeless. An example of this is cartoons and stories by James Thurber, who used to write for the New Yorker. This guy fathered all cartoons that have the mentality of, ‘Wench, go in the kitchen and make me a sandwich’. He is also capable of making fun of men, he’s just not as good at it.

wildwomen01x2

So we can suggest it may have been better to live in simpler times, but lets not forget the horrible places you could have ended up back in the day. For example, the Puritans were back in the day, and they were pretty much one big no-fun zone! Also, being that I have red hair, there were several civilizations that were convinced we were Satan’s spawn. I’ll stick with  the non-witch burning openly sexual time I was born into. The 1980s. Bitches and blow.

-posted by samsquared

January 15, 2009 at 4:42 PM Leave a comment

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