It's Raining in LA

It’s Raining in LA

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

It's War

It’s War

What do you think an artist is?
…he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking,
passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world,
shaping himself completely in their image.
Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.

LA Landscape

LA Landscape

We all know that Art is not truth.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth
at least the truth that is given us to understand.
The artist must know the manner
whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.

Lisa Lyon

Lisa Lyon

Art is not chaste.
Those ill prepared should be allowed no contact with art.
Art is dangerous. If it is chaste, it is not art.

David Oropeza

David Oropeza

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place:
from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper,
from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.

Rain in LA Alley

Rain in LA Alley

You don’t make art, you find it.

LA in the Rain

LA in the Rain

Everybody has the same energy potential.
The average person wastes his in a dozen little ways.
I bring mine to bear on one thing only: my paintings,
and everything else is sacrificed to it…myself included.

~*~

Artwork by Eriberto Oriol
Quotes by Pablo Picasso

mikepyro:     Hollywood in the 80’s. Photo: Mike Miller

Hollywood in the 80’s. Photo: Mike Miller

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Cha-Cha-Chas Mambos Rumbas, 1960.

Cha-Cha-Chas Mambos Rumbas, 1960.

     DUB HUSTLER - COLLAGE BY MAYA MITTEN

DUB HUSTLER – COLLAGE BY MAYA MITTEN

     The Savage Skulls in the South Bronx, 1972.

The Savage Skulls in the South Bronx, 1972.

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.
~Joseph Campbell

 

Monet & Doll, photograph by Arlene Gottfried

Monet & Doll, photograph by Arlene Gottfried

Arlene Gottfried is a force of nature, a whirlwind, a quiet storm of power, beauty, and strength. From her soul pours forth not only some of the most distinctive portraits but a voice… A voice that comes from deep, down inside the bone, from the marrow where blood is born and truth is known…

A voice that vibrates with a force that tells of a spirit that transcends the physical realm and lifts us up, high, higher, highest as we become one with love. A woman of voice and vision, Gottfried overflows with a mystic energy few embody but all can feel. She is a medium, a vessel, a channel through which this current flows from heaven to earth. She remembers how it all began, so many years ago, the pathless path that led her to The Eternal Light Community Singers on who were singing at a Gospel fest on New York’s Lower East Side.

Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.

 

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

What you cannot see is always there when you look, and it is by our inner compass that we are drawn to an understanding of the world. For Nick Hand, that understand was to be found along five hundred miles of the Hudson Valley in New York. With a bicycle and a camera, Hand traveled over the hills and mountains and through the countryside, much of which is still raw, rugged, and wild. And it was on this journey that he set forth to connect with the artists and craftspeople that continue in the traditions of an earlier age, an analogue era that reminds us of how much the world has changed.

As Hand observes, “On a bicycle you take everything in, you can stop anywhere, you don’t miss a thing, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation.” The result of his travels is an intimate volume that reminds us of the pleasures of connecting with people whose passions inspire us. Conversations on the Hudson (Princeton Architectural Press) presents the photographs and conversations Hand had with the artisans of a time and a place that reminds us of an America of the agrarian past, of a generation committed to  cultivation of the craft. Whether a seed librarian or a sheep farmer, a boat restorer or a stone sculptor, the people featured in this book give us a window into their beautiful and charming worlds.

Read the Full Story at
L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

Nick Hand

Photographer Unknown

Photographer Unknown

I used to live for the depths of surface
and perhaps for the surface of depths.
Then I got into deep diving,
mining the mind,
and I got into the depths of depths.

Jokes on me cause
all roads lead to the unknowable,
and so after heavy lifting
I find a feather
floating in the breeze.

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One day, I was in a terrible mood so I began a search on the Internet for images tagged with the words “Killer Bitch.” Nothing good came up, so I revised my search to “Killer Barbie” and that is when I discovered the work of photographer Mariel Clayton.

Clayton is a self-taught photographer who composes stunning tableaux featuring, amongst other series, scenes of Barbie as a serial killer. These carefully constructed images take the familiar iconography of the world’s most glamorous doll and subvert it into a new conversation filled with black humor. Clayton’s work allows us to reconsider our assumptions about constructions of the feminine particularly as it relates to childhood, violence, beauty, and sexuality.

Clayton observes, “For me, it’s about what [Barbie] DOESN’T represent. She is no indicative of any normal, healthy, average woman for a start, no matter how ‘tweaked’ her plastic form is. So right from the outset, she is already a false idol (for want of a better word). A lot of her defenders stress that it’s the ‘idea’ of Barbie, that she represents possibility, of empowerment, of choice rather than actual aesthetic beauty, but I disagree. If that were true, then all the other ethnic dolls in the line would be just as popular and they’re nowhere near so—it’s because she is an unattainable, idealized version of what beauty should be that she is so popular. She is not just an icon, she is THE Icon.

“I think there is an unspoken theme that seems to run throughout childhood, “You should just be yourself and people would like you, you are special… but you’d be more liked and more special if you did looked like [this]‘.

“Barbie definitely plays into that, by being one of the first toys that a child can identify with and mold their personality and vision of themselves around. Children act out their perceptions of their environment through the dolls. It’s not just about ‘playing dollies’, it’s about processing what they see and translating it through what they make dolls say and do, but with such a poor representative medium.

“For me, Barbie is the antithesis of Beauty. Aesthetically, yes, she has been sculpted to achieve all the correct symmetry and proportion that is supposed to be desirable, but at the cost of any type of persona or voice. She is nothing but how she looks… and that’s really sad to me, and very, very ugly. This whole idea that yes, you like Barbie can grow up to be an architect, or a film star, or a vet… but only if you’re very thin and very pretty. That to me only represents a total absence of real beauty. Beauty is depth, is experience, is so much more than coordinating your eyeshadow to your manicure.

“Barbie can never be representative of anything more to me than an unrealistic example of what someone thinks we should want to aspire to be. The more cynical part of me thinks that at it’s heart, it’s a means of hooking little girls on this idea of the importance of ‘being pretty’ so that as they grow up they will keep buying into the marketing done by beauty products etc so that the money will keep flowing in to the cosmetics industry that pushes aesthetic value over real substance.”

Clayton’s photographs are carefully constructed images that have a luxurious feeling, perhaps in part due to the high level of detail and thought that goes into the creation of each tableaux. It may also be due in part to the very nature of this plastic world, where everything—down to the Louis Vuitton purses—is reproduced in the highest quality detail. The juxtaposition of Barbie’s lavish plastic lifestyle with Clayton’s macabre sensibility results in images that are both provocative and humorous. They maintain their sense of the ridiculous because although garish, they are not grotesque—they avoid the pornography of violence that so many photographers embrace.

While most of the response to the work has been positive, Clayton’s Facebook page was recently shut down for explicit content. As she explains, it was not shut down because of the violence, but because she had simulated sexual acts taking place, which reveals another layer of hypocrisy of American culture.

As Clayton points out, “My work really isn’t that deep,” though I would have to disagree. I think it explores the superficial in a powerful way. Her photographs deconstruct false realities to create something equally false, and in doing so force us to release ourselves from assumptions of what reality is. If all constructions are false, then all constructions are true, and Clayton’s photographs of Killer Barbie give women—who once played with Barbie—new possibilities for what adult playtime can be.

Clayton brilliantly concludes, “I want to tear away that image of the vapid, smiling, mindless pretty shell and fill it up with something, malevolence seems as good as anything, and it helps to underscore my point that behind everything, underneath everything, lurks something else, it cannot be just about the surface.”

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Taryn and Bokka 16 May 2010

live to tell

March 23, 2014

Frédéric Lagrange

Frédéric Lagrange

This is the me that you just met,
the me drinking martinis to erase mahhself.
That me already happened,
and that’s the story I’m here to tell.
It holds me in its grip,
tight yet tender,
and it commands me,
even when I get it wrong,
You need to keep going.

The only way out
is the way you came in.

I always knew it would be a book,
because what else could it be?
A fractured fairy tale,
a mirror shattered seven years ago,
from which I am free
free from the spell.

 Cue the airy gusts of the track’s opening bars,
then the light fingering of the keyboard that plugs in to the wall.
Feel the earth sweep away from under your feet.

I’m not writing this.
It’s not me, it’s the voice inside my head.

Dig. Here’s the deal.
I’ll just be real with it.
I’m not sure where to start.
Do I start in the very very beginning.
Or do I start at that moment three years ago?

Manhattan, New York, June 2013. Eliane and Jean Pierre Laffont in their studio editing the photographs for the book Photographers Paradise (Glitterati Incorporated, Fall 2014). The suitcase moved around the world with Jean Pierre Laffont.

Manhattan, New York, June 2013. Eliane and Jean Pierre Laffont in their studio editing the photographs for the book Photographers Paradise (Glitterati Incorporated, Fall 2014). The suitcase moved around the world with Jean Pierre Laffont. Photo by Sam Matamoros.

There is only one Eliane Laffont, she is a woman of vision with a heart for adventure and a passion for photography. She, who would have been a writer, had she not married Jean-Pierre Laffont a French photojournalist. Destiny had other plans for Laffont, as she found herself creating a dynamic space for photojournalism in the United States marketplace. She came from Paris with the work of six photographers in tow, and she launched the U.S. operation of Gamma Agency from the highest throne.

Laffont recalls, “Only in America can this happen. My first day at work, I bought a copy of Time magazine on the street,I looked at the masthead and called the first name: Henry Grunwald, Editor in Chief at the time. His assistant clarified that I should speak with the director of photography. She said, ‘Hold on, I’m going to connect you,’ and because the call came from Mr. Grunwald’s office, I was given an appointment that day. I called at 10:30 in the morning and at 3:00 in the afternoon I was meeting with John Durniak.

“It was 1968. Those were the interesting years. Look and Life magazines had closed and John Durniak wanted to re-create the big picture stories and photo essays at Time Magazine. He also wanted to develop the international pages. And this is exactly what I showed him that day: the war in Vietnam, the students’ unrest in Paris, the 6-day war in Israel, the agricultural reform in Chile, Lebanon, Iran… I showed him black and white prints and he looked at them all very slowly in silence. After ten minutes, he turned to me and said, ‘Who are you?’

REad the Full Story at
THE CLICK

 
Redbird (Stay High 149) photograph by Jon Naar, 1973. ©Jon Naar. Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including landscape images of graffiti-covered subway trains rumbling through the city. This particular photograph is of a train painted by STAY HIGH 149, a pioneer in the writing movement.

Redbird (Stay High 149) photograph by Jon Naar, 1973. ©Jon Naar. Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including landscape images of graffiti-covered subway trains rumbling through the city. This particular photograph is of a train painted by STAY HIGH 149, a pioneer in the writing movement.

Graffiti Kids, photograph by Jon Naar, 1973. © Jon Naar. Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including artists, such as the pictured kids, posing with their work.

Graffiti Kids, photograph by Jon Naar, 1973. © Jon Naar. Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including artists, such as the pictured kids, posing with their work.

It began in the stacks. Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Museum of the City of New York, came across a collection of black books Martin Wong had donated to the Museum in 1994, just five years before he would die from AIDS in San Francisco. The black books were the site of sketches and drawings, works on paper that were passed from head to head, giving writers a look at what their contemporaries were doing with marker in hand and giving them a space to contribute to the conversation.

In total, Martin Wong (1946-1999) donated 55 black books and more than 300 mixed media paintings on canvas, cardboard, paper, and plywood. The work Wong collected includes early permutations of designs that would later appear on trains and buildings throughout New York City. And though those paintings are long gone, their legacy lives on.

Now at the Museum of the City of New York, “City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection” presents 105 works by legendary writers DAZE. DONDI, FUTURA 200, Keith Haring, LADY PINK, LEE, and SHARP among others, alongside historical photographs by Charlie Ahearn, Henry Chalfant, Martha Cooper, Jon Naar, and Jack Stewart. Paired together, the paintings, drawings, and photographs take us back to a time and a place that, though not far away at all, no longer exists in our daily lives.

 Read the Full Story at
L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE

The Death of Graffiti by LADY PINK, 1982, acrylic on masonite, 19x22.” Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York. LADY PINK painted The Death of Graffiti just as New York City Mayor Ed Koch and officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reinvigorated their campaign to rid the subway system of graffiti. LADY PINK depicts herself nude on a pile of aerosol spray cans. She points to a “clean train” emerging from the right edge of the painting that signifies the city’s effort to give all of the trains in service a fresh coat of white paint.

The Death of Graffiti by LADY PINK, 1982, acrylic on masonite, 19×22.” Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York. LADY PINK painted The Death of Graffiti just as New York City Mayor Ed Koch and officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reinvigorated their campaign to rid the subway system of graffiti. LADY PINK depicts herself nude on a pile of aerosol spray cans. She points to a “clean train” emerging from the right edge of the painting that signifies the city’s effort to give all of the trains in service a fresh coat of white paint.

(( ouroburo ))

March 19, 2014

1677 - Rose-shaped map of Bohemia

1677 – Rose-shaped map of Bohemia

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

buried (treasure)

March 18, 2014

Samantha Casolari

Samantha Casolari

I wrote this piece and I am not ready for it.

It is so heavy and dense
that it intimidates me and makes me think,
It’s not even mine.
It just is.

Like buried treasure.
I discovered it but I cannot own it.
It exists before and after and without me.

I am no one.
But I will say this.

Writing is my salvation.
Not just meditation.
Not just creation.

But a means to something greater.
God, even.

unfold your own myth

March 15, 2014

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Outward colors arise from the light of sun and stars,
and inward colors from the light on high.
~ Rumi

Bad Tattoo, Anonymous Press No. 7957

Bad Tattoo, Anonymous Press No. 7957

Dogtown, Anonymous Press No. 7945

Dogtown, Anonymous Press No. 7945

The anonymous. It is you and it is me and it is all of us. We are always anonymous, leaving footprints in our wave, evidence of where we have been and what we have done that draws or escapes attention. Identity, in as much as it is a construct, is the positive set against the void, the great swath of nameless humanity that makes for our history on earth, the way we are and we are not at the same time, and the way our technology reflects this.

The Digital Era empowers the anonymous to express and create freely under the protection of the First Amendment. Not only can we say anything we desire, we do not need to sign our name to it. Evidence becomes traces and tracks, not necessarily a complete truth, but a piece of the larger puzzle that will never be solved so much as it will be played out by countless hands through which it passes.

Anonymous Press is the spirit of our times, a completely mechanized process for zine design. It liberates the human element from the process, and presents us with something else, the ghost in the machine, perhaps. Karolis designed a simple system. Type in a title of your devising. The title can be up to forty characters. Press enter. In less than one minute, Anonymous will present a twelve page zine that presents a search of pictures found in Google Image Search. The images are placed randomly, then numbered and added to a public library. Each zine is available, print on demand, for $3 plus shipping.

There is no credit to anyone other than Anonymous Press, which was designed by Kosas as part of his MFA thesis at Virginia Commonweath University, Richmond, from which he graduates this spring.  Anonymous went live in December 2012. As of late February, over eight thousand volumes have been designed, proving that there is a relentless desire to create and disseminate ideas by any means necessary. It is the concept that makes each edition striking, the way that seemingly random information becomes part of a narrative when organized sequentially, around words of any language, even letters themselves. It is at once liberating and absurd, Dada to its core.

Anonymous Press appropriates appropriation so that there is nothing left, just a snake eating its tail as the ghost floats through the machine, whispering ideas in your ear. Kosas notes the inevitable trend towards vulgarity, as well as the self-promoting instinct that is now part of our lexicography, the way in which we are not only worthy of veneration but a brand unto ourselves. The way the anonymous connects to the known and spins through its archives and shares that which we may or may not know.

People want to know: Power, Sex, Love, Grief, Self, Reflection, Time, Edie Segwick, Tupac, Charlie Brown, Early Seventies, Frank Zappa, Shadow People, Skinhead, and Citizen Kane. Then it gets more complex. There were the book ideas themselves, things of distinction like: Crude Drawings of Men I Hate, Pictures of Girls Named Rachel, and I Am a Bodice Ripper. And lastly were the literary titles, the flashes of poetry and philosophy that made the words abstracted lyrics, feelings unto themselves, such as: We Demand to Be Taken Seriously and No Is Shorter Than Yes.

Anonymous Press is casually iconoclastic, dismissing notions of authorship with effortless grace, and in its place, offering a playground for unconscious energies. What we see is a reflection, though of who and what we will never know, but it allows us to consider that the ways in which we create and recreate meaning, in ways to subvert our understanding by offering an alternate interpretation through the very form itself. And it makes bookmaking more like playing the slots, which is has a charmingly harmless quality to the way it allows you to gamble against the odds.

First Published in
LE JOURNAL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
30 March 2013

Harlem, Anonymous Press No. 8629 I Love You, Anonymous Press No. 8019

Harlem, Anonymous Press No. 8629
I Love You, Anonymous Press No. 8019

I Love You, Anonymous Press No. 8019

I Love You, Anonymous Press No. 8019

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01

In 1969, Nat Finkelstein received word through his lawyer that a fugitive outlaw warrant had been issued in his name, and in fear for his life, he left the United States. In 1978, while in prison on France, Finkelstein received word that five years earlier, all charges against him were dismissed upon judicial review, with an extreme castigation of the Federal government for illegal actions taken against him. The government, however, did not inform anyone that the charges were dropped and Finkelstein only returned to America in 1982.

Upon his return, Finkelstein continued to do the two things he had done all his life: to produce art and to be involved with drugs. As was his wont, these two threads often found themselves intertwined, perhaps most notably when he began the Merry Monsters project.

Finkelstein recalled, “I got to New York in 1990 in a creative quandary, the feeling that I knew I was going to do something but not yet sure what it was:  sort of “not up for grabs but open to offers.”  I had started shooting still pictures off the television screen around 1985, but in ‘88 after I got my first camcorder, I started shooting my own videos and deconstructing them.  I extracted single frames, which I then shot with my analog camera off the TV screen, utilizing the screen itself as the subject.  I began documenting the Rave/Techno scene in Europe and England as videographer and as executive producer for Robotnik Television in Amsterdam.

“Back in New York, and always a dredger of the outer edges of the counter culture, I checked into the Chelsea Hotel looking for the latest anomie.  One soon found me: his name was Michael Alig. We bonded, a sixty-year old artist on a hunt and a twenty-something monster on the make.  From here on in, I entered the maelstrom of Club Culture.  I spent two years of documenting clubs and club kids: a pretty bubble, which burst leaving nothing behind.”

As Daphne Dahrendorf, his partner at the time, recalls, “The Acid House and House/ Disco were what was happening! The people were experimental, pushing the boundaries both within the club scene and the world outside—the huge parties in some way reflected early festivals though less hippy and idealistic it was fun, often healthy and sometimes not… escapism. I don’t know if there was ever an ‘aim‘ in documenting it except to be there and to show what was happening as honestly as possible. The club kids at Disco 2000 became willing participants in his videography, investigating the blends of shapes, TV lines and colors, and finding extraordinary vistas of beauty within these settings—showing the ‘performers’ in their created world.”

The result is a series of images that evoke the intense energies of this scene, the Technicolor madness that only happens at night. With a cast of characters to rival the Wizard of Oz, the club kid scene was one of the most magical, mystical, global phenomena at the end of the millennia. Fueled in equal parts by drugs, creativity, and anti-authoritarian vibes, the creatures shown in the Merry Monsters series rule the night.

As Dahrendorf observed of Finkelstein, “The camera was a tool to be used. Through the videography, the camerawork used the moving picture to access stills and the moments ‘between’ the stills. Some films were made though unscripted, more observations, character explorations.  There was a piece made in the early video days of animated stills, which was excellent; the editor was Fred Mogubgub and it was for the band Khmer Rouge. Nat has always been a good storyteller with his work whether in one image or a series, and these photographs give us a feeling of what it was like to be there. Costume, desire, paraphernalia.  The landscapes of electronic culture predestined.  Silhouettes and shapes. I always preferred using them as slides in a darkened room than the print version—and  the backlit bubblejet prints  also give us that sense of luminescence and timelessness.”

The magic of Merry Monsters lies in Finkelstein’s inimitable ability to trip the light fantastic, to make you feel ohh-so-groovy by translating the drug-induced states of euphoria, energy, speed, steam, ecstasy, all that made a night at Disco 2000 the place in which rave culture was born. It was a time and a place unlike any other on earth, and with Finkelstein at the center of it, we see it for more than just the tawdry headlines, the backroom deals with the Feds, the sad and somber mess it became when Alig turned from provocateur into cold-blooded murderer.

But the shocking and tragic end befits a story in the pages of the life of Nat Finkelstein, who made art out of the most decadent and dynamic forces of the twentieth-century. Who better than Finkelstein to be partying with club kids? After all, they weren’t just subjects, they were customers. Not for nothing, the title of Finkelstein memoirs is The 14 Ounce Pound. Get it…

First Published in
LE JOURNAL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
23 November 2012

All Photographs by
Nat Finkelstein

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Janette Beckman

Janette Beckman

London native Janette Beckman began her career at as a photographer at Melody Maker, a weekly British music paper, in 1977 where she was one of two women on staff. She has since gone on to be one of the foremost photographers of the London and New York scenes over the last 25 years of the twentieth century, photographing everyone from Afrika Bambaataa to the Sex Pistols.

She recounts, for the first time to THE CLICK, her early years in the business, during the seminal period of the last 70s and early 80s as the Do It Yourself ethos of punk and hip hop made itself felt in music, fashion, style, art, photography, and the media itself.

A regular contributor to Melody Maker, The Face, Paper, and the Daily NewsSunday Magazine, as well as album covers for everyone from The Police to Salt ‘N’ Pepa. Beckman recalls those heady days of the 70s and 80s in an exclusive interview with THE CLICK.

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