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Art & Culture

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CONTENTS

Winter 2018
ISSUE 10 42
Editor's Letter Influences
204 Floating in Space with

14 Mike Lee

Studio Time
46
Sarah Sitkin’s Silicone
Vale in Southern Travel Insider 86 118
California The Center Holds in A Tribute to Daniel Rich
Mexico City Greg Escalante
18
The Report 50
Urban Nation’s Grand In Session
Opening in Berlin All Hands on Deck
at Otis College of

22 Art and Design

Product
94 126
Reviews 54 Luke Pelletier
Sakura Pens, Liquitex Profile Smithe
134
Paint, adidas Velvet Laugh Now, But One
Kicks Day We’ll Be In Charge
Events
24 60 MCA Denver, MoMA,
Joshua Liner Gallery,
Picture Book Book Reviews Thinkspace, Athen B.
Cheryl Dunn Is Philip Guston, James Gallery
Everybody Street Stanford, Standards
Manual’s New York City 102 136
32 Transit Authority
Kip Omolade
Sieben on Life
Design
The Gorgeously 64 The Dotted Line

Beautiful Bits
138
Grotesque World of
Sarah Sitkin The Next Generation of
Virtual Reality in Art Pop Life
36 Sacramento, New York
City, Los Angeles and
Fashion
Hide and Seek 110 San Francisco

with the Eyewear of


Gustav Klimt
Kerin Rose Gold 142
Perspective
The Legacy of Pictures

78 on Walls

Anja Salonen

6 WINTER 2018 Right: Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Curtain Girl), Acrylic on PVC panel, 24” x 30”, 2016
66
Kerry James
Marshall
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INTERN
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Juxtapoz ISSN #1077-8411 Winter 2018 Volume 25, Number 01


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8 WINTER 2018 Cover art: Kerry James Marshall, Our Town (detail), Acrylic and collage on canvas, 143” x 101”, 1995. Courtesy of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
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EDITOR’S LETTER

Issue NO 204
“ ... but you know what? That's the way it's supposed to In its 24 years, Juxtapoz has never been about conversation alongside pioneers like Kerry James
be. It's supposed to get harder, and that's not really a reviews in the traditional sense. Yes, we tell you Marshall and Ron English. Underground heroes like
problem. You're supposed to be more sophisticated and about our favorite art shows, break down the top Beautiful Losers stalwart Cheryl Dunn appears with
much more self-conscious...” —Kerry James Marshall book releases, and feature who we consider to be the likes of Sarah Sitkin, Luke Pelletier and Anja
artists of the moment. Robert Williams founded Salonen, who are just beginning their exhibition
There was a conversation in our office as we the magazine with an outsider’s mentality. Juxtapoz careers. You have a twentieth-century symbolist
refined the Winter 2018 issue that struck me as a would act as a community of thoughts, ideas and master like Gustav Klimt sharing space with
good starting point for this letter. Thinking about heritage that would create its own art history. contemporary painter Daniel Rich, whose work
Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, we started talking Artists could share their painting practices, examines the political and social uprises of the past
about the idea behind aggregate review sites, and writers would open doors to the art world’s century that shaped how we live in our cities.
on which we base so much of our TV and movie previously overlooked. Pop-surrealists, graffiti
watching habits. What made us laugh, as we went and tattoo cultures, comic-book artists and the It’s not so much a pass of the baton to the next era of
to print, was that Thor: Ragnarok had the same occasional hot rodder building their own language artists, but emphasizing the idea that conversations
aggregate review “rating” as Moonlight. free of the critical lexicon of reviews—Juxtapoz was, matter so much in art. When I think of aggregate
and still is, for artists, by artists. culture, I feel like we miss this dialogue, this
I didn’t see Thor, and perhaps Chris Hemsworth lifeblood of art. And I hope, in some ways, Juxtapoz
puts on a performance for the ages, but if you think In the spirit of those founding years, and as is part of a positive examination of art and culture
about historically important fi lms, groundbreaking Juxtapoz has expanded with a readership that is for the times in which we live. Banksy’s iconic
pieces of art that will define generations, Moonlight not only artists but an international audience of statement fits, “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in
is probably going to hold a tad more weight than creative thinkers and those who keep up with the charge.” For the first issue of the new year, here’s to
Thor: Ragnarok. And that’s just part of our point; latest contemporary trends in art and culture, owning our art history and sharing nuanced ideas
the appreciation of art means so much to so many our return to the quarterly format reinforces of inclusion and positivity.
different people, and genres and styles all have the magazine’s mission. The Winter 2018 issue
their separate identities that make up the whole covers a wide-breadth of genres, generations and Welcome to winter, 2018.
picture. In a world increasingly reliant on virality, genius (Kerry James Marshall is the cover story,
sometimes the “aggregationalism” of our times is after all) and examines just how important legacy
killing our love of nuance. Cue your “get off my and engagement are to the art world. Emerging
lawn” commentary now. artists like David Molesky and Kip Omolade are in

10 WINTER 2018 Above: Untitled (studio), Acrylic on PUC Panels, 83” x 119”, 2014. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Purchase, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman
Foundation Gift, Acquisitions Fund and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Multicultural Audience Development Initiative Gift, 2015
DEPARTMENT

108 WINTER 2018


ARTWORK BY ONEQ FOR 7TH ANNUAL SUPERSONIC INVITATIONAL
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1.6.18 - 1.27.18

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2.3.18 - 2.24.18

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STUDIO TIME

Sarah Sitkin
A Silicone Vale in Southern California
Los Angeles has so much influence on my work, The building used to be a meat storage facility, so formulations to achieve the look and feel I’m
both culturally and geographically. The materials the walls have thick foam insulation beneath the aiming for.
I use require a specific climate: warm and dry. The concrete. My landlord is extremely laid back and
nature of my materials also dictates the layout of my gives me plenty of privacy to do my own thing. A portion of the studio is taken up by finished
space: separate areas for silicone and latex; a large I share the unit with my boyfriend who is a pieces, curiosities, art and found objects. This is a
open area for the roto-casting machine; large mobile musician and has a recording studio nestled in the comfortable area to sit and get perspective on the
tables to move pieces in and out of the bay door. It corner. We have a great synergy when we are both work in progress, where I can take a break or even
is important to me that I have all of my materials focused on our respective projects. I feel a certain research something for hours. I keep a kitchen,
organized and at arm’s reach before I begin a new duty to uphold a good work ethic, so that neither of shower and other amenities close by. Sometimes
project. I use hundreds of tools while working, from us are tempted to find a distraction. I will work on things for days or weeks straight.
scalpels to pneumatic silicone dispensing machines, I find it’s really important to get into a state of mind
nail files to electric turkey carving knives. I love Silicone is definitely the heart of my process at that allows me to hold my focus, otherwise the
tools. I also love making my own tools when the the moment, though I use dozens of different raw project never comes to fruition. —Sarah Sitkin
situation calls for it. materials. I have hundreds of bins, each filled with
different hairs, pigments, tubes, clays, paints, pins, Sarah Sitkin’s solo show at Superchief Gallery in
I have moved my studio several times in my life, tape, etc. However, silicone is really the foundation downtown Los Angeles opens on December 17, 2017.
and my current space is the largest I’ve occupied. material, and I sometimes mix my own custom Read her interview on page 32.

14 WINTER 2018 Above: Photo by the artist


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REPORT

Preservation And
Perseverance in Berlin
Urban Nation Opens Wide
Graffiti and street art culture, for all the global Yasha Young, director of Urban Nation in Berlin, Then, something unexpected happened. Urban
popularity and international appeal, has traveled the much-anticipated, and at times, controversial Nation opened with a group show that covered
a complicated route in presenting its history. In museum of urban art that finally opened its doors much of the ground that had engendered suspicion:
essence, these art movements do exist outside of to the public in September 2017, not only took on there was Cost, Kenny Scharf, Futura, Aiko, Vhils,
institutional curation, literally on the streets that the risk of heading the project, but withstood over Ron English, JR, Miss Van, Crash, Swoon and
surround museums. They have a peculiar and five years of international curiosity as curated Banksy. It had past, present and future implications,
unnatural position when placed, one that is more pop-up shows and major mural programs began both in art and the possibilities of what the
nuanced. When a culture exists for almost 50 to take shape. There was a part of this scene that space could be in continued curations. For all the
years on its own terms, with icons and evolutions wanted it perhaps, to fail, and others, like myself, prolonged dispute about what Urban Nation was
that have thrived without a major organizational who had high expectations but wondered aloud going to be, its first exhibition was substantial in
structure like most 20th century art movements, how authentic Urban Nation could be. Yet, when cultural merit.
confining this history to a particular space and the Godmother of graffiti and street art, Martha
place is a controversial prospect. Many in the Cooper, was on board, dedicating her own personal We sat down with our friend Yasha Young to talk
culture are hesitant to accept the institutional book collection for the Martha Cooper Library about how difficult it was to do this culture proud,
conditions when learning that an organization within the museum, and when other pivotal voices and how building an institution with governmental
wants to take on the challenge of putting street art began creating projects in and around UN, some of support formed a strong foundation and propelled
and graffiti into the framework of a museum. the skepticism began to wane. the next era of Urban Nation.

18 WINTER 2018 All photography: Nika Kramer Above: Aerial view of Urban Nation and Art Mile,Berlin, Germany
REPORT

Evan Pricco: When you launched Urban Nation, speed. Perhaps that was a challenge, but it kept the It was not just a matter of bringing in friends,
we knew it was going to eventually be an actual museum as a living, breathing entity even before but watching who has moved stuff over the years
physical museum in Berlin, but there was a big the house opened. and who has a great reputation and is capable of
build-up. When you got the funding to do UN, you sustaining a relationship for longer than a minute
set up this structure of pop-up shows beforehand, Not only do you have a board at the museum, and a half. I've watched them work. I've see their
curated by all sorts of international figures in a group of historians like Carlo McCormick shows. They have educated me. I spoke with
this culture, and I was happy to be included and Martha Cooper, but also gallerists from organizers like Martyn Reed at Nuart Festival.
with Juxtapoz. I think that was a brilliant move Thinkspace and Jonathan LeVine. Why was that There's been a lot of research for the past five
because it really got everybody excited and built important to how you constructed programs for years. It came about by me trying to bring in
momentum for this actual opening. Did that the museum? everything I’ve seen over the years into one spot so
heighten the expectation? I think you have to remember that I started my that it had integrity.
Yasha Young: I wanted everybody to feel a part of journey in the art world about 20, 25 years ago.
it from the very get-go. I didn't want to come to This idea for Urban Nation is 10 years old to begin Martha Cooper made a great comment when
the point where I was, "Oh, I built this and now I'm with, and all those people I knew before UN. I'm we filmed her for our short documentary on
filling it." I wanted it to be a journey for everyone very familiar with Andrew Hosner since he opened Urban Nation. She said she had no expectations
in order to get attached to the idea, rather than Thinkspace. At that point, I already had my gallery, for street art and graffiti to become this global
just the UN being a museum. For me, this is all and I was already living with Liz McGrath in movement, this ever-popular art form that was
about an idea. It's about an idea of change in downtown LA, way back when I was meeting people going to last well into almost decades now.
institutions around the world, ones focused on art in the culture and reading Juxtapoz. So when the The longevity of this culture and the museum
history or contemporary work. Because, you know museum was founded, I was very familiar with all is tied to both explaining the history but also
me, I'm very fast, I'm very quick. I know how to of these people and was trying to bring them back integrating new artists into the lexicon, so there’s
make decisions, but all of a sudden, you have ten together with each of their unique qualities and pressure. The culture has expectations of how it
other entities that need to be able to go with your curatorial eyes. is presented, so I assume UN is going to continue

Above (clockwise from left): Invader unveiling, Installations on the Urban Nation Art Mile, Interior view of Urban Nation Museum JUXTAPOZ .COM 19
REPORT

to program both historical and contemporary


parts of the story?
Even more so, my idea is to challenge and rethink
the idea of the art institution in general. In order
to have a living, breathing institution, and the
word museum doesn't even really describe what
we are, I wanted to be in the now and catch the
current movement and ideas in this culture,
and I want to be able to look into the future.
That's why we will have retrospectives, as well as
curated shows by young up-and-coming curators
and other great institutions. There seems to be
an unwritten law that institutions can't curate
and leaders of institutions can't curate. That is
ridiculous and I don't agree with it. I want that
curatorial element.

Also, we are rethinking how the house is


occupied. That is why I'm really thinking about
the residencies we will have on the top floors of
the building. This is the next part of the building
we are working on. I want do this quickly because
I think once the residencies are installed inside
the house, and the project space across the street
is still running, we will have the proper museum,
the proper research facility, and an in-house
residency program that launches and helps make
even more connections between artists, curators
and the public.
Now that you are this free museum, how have the other institutions, and also in the city of Berlin.
Why do you think it works in Berlin? bureaucrats responded to everything you have That's part of who we are, although we don't want
I think that, in the beginning, I was actually done, and now that it’s open, are they convinced to be confined in just that space.
thinking it belonged in Berlin, but I wasn't sure this was the right thing to do?
whether it was going to work in Berlin. I could've Did it take convincing? I think convincing, smiling Through all the controversy, through all the
had it a lot easier. I could've made it in other and explaining has become my middle name. I have naysaying, this place opened. And as much as our
cities with a lot less bureaucratic paperwork files, the experience of 20 years in this culture, but I had culture has dissenting opinions about how best
forms and whatnot, for sure. I think the upside to put it into a 10-minute presentation in front of to present this street art and graffiti history, most
is that once it is done, once we are established the ministers of culture and leaders of the district importantly, people coming to the museum will
within this framework with actual backing from to explain to them the importance of street art and have a special experience. That is important, and
the government itself, it creates a very strong graffiti. I think everyone was interested in what I think I even have to just dip outside of myself
foundation. Everything has been researched, this could do for Berlin, and perhaps are craving and realize how hard that is to accomplish.
tested, and proven. It’s not spontaneous, it’s part of somethings that's new. I don't like buses filled with tourists. I like the
the framework of the city now. self-determined and dedicated tourist who sees
Because everyone wants to know what’s next with something on Instagram and says, "I really, really
I think to do something like this in a city that UN, when will the residences kick off? wanna go see it." That's the kind of tourism
is very difficult is a lot better than do it in the That is when we enter in the next phase of building I like. You know that confidence of, “I can do this
city that just says, "Yeah, okay. Here’s the space, and that's why I'm so hesitant to start it because myself. I can explore on my own.” It's an even nicer
do it." In order to change cultural history and I just got out of building this thing for five years! compliment for me when I get all these schools
challenge certain systems, you need to be able to But the residencies will be the top two floors, ten to come here now, and all the neighbors who live
have that as a backbone. I've accomplished this residencies in all. Artists have to apply to the in this area who have been through this building
in the most unlikely of situations. It is founded residencies, but hopefully, those will coincide with process with us. I have people come in and say,
solidly within the city. If we would have done it a major show downstairs, and we can have open "I’ve seen you do this for three years, and I didn't
with private funding, we know how the urban art studios at the same time. like it, and I didn't know what it was, but now
community would have responded to the BMW- I see it, and I'm so happy.” I have actually given,
sponsored street art museum, and that would've Will the mural projects continue around the city? I think, 20 tours so far for schools and kids in this
been a different story. We'd probably have more Yes, of course, because 70% of our work is not in neighborhood. It's just really nice; it's one of my
money, but it would not have been a state-funded, the museum, remember that. That's so important. favorite things.
non-profit, state-acknowledged institution, which About 70% of the work will be outside, and
is what will help us, hopefully, remain relevant my goal is to continue our special projects and Urban Nation is a free museum in the Schöneberg
for history. collaborations with people all over the world, neighborhood in Berlin.

20 WINTER 2018 Above: Herakut installation, Urban Nation Art Mile


RON ENGLISH
TOYBOX: America in the Visuals

“King Combrat” oil on canvas, 48”x 48”

ON VIEW: DECEMBER 2 THRU 30

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PICTURE BOOK

24 WINTER 2018
PICTURE BOOK

Cheryl Dunn
Rolls With The Punches
“I live in NYC where the streets tell you stories the seminal film, Everybody Street, about New York Head in Crotch
if you are willing to watch,” Cheryl Dunn reports, as street photographers. As with all of her projects, Cheryl Dunn: This is one of my old boxing pics.
someone who reads the streets deftly, capturing a both commercial and independent, she captures I documented boxing in New York and New Jersey
genuine essence by reacting quickly, much like the the heart of her subjects, grasping that fleeting for about eight years back in the day and used it as
boxing champs she once documented in-depth for glimpse of a person’s true soul. With the unique a documentary subject to hone my skills, shoot fast,
years. Dunn has embedded herself in many cultures ability to capture that exact moment on film, she anticipate action, and fight for my territory.
and subcultures, contributing significantly to both has a knack for nailing it, opening the door for
street photography and documentary filmmaking. emotional connection between subject and viewer. CrustyPunkDog
Rare is the artist whose purpose is to shine a light The subtly sensational Cheryl Dunn shared a few of This is classic East Village. His eyes are sad, it’s very
on her contemporaries and community, applying her knockouts, explaining her lifelong focus: “These cold, he sleeps on the street.
that breadth of knowledge to document her own images reflect consistent themes: “aggression,
field. Through her filmic portraits of artists, Dunn freedom, protest, humor, resilience, the streets.”
tells the stories that will become legacies, including —Kristin Farr

JUXTAPOZ .COM 25
PICTURE BOOK

Bronx Paddy Cake Costa Rica Dreaming


When my stepson was 10, he got into a fight at school. My good friends built a treehouse on the Osa peninsula.
The hippy teachers thought he might be a flight risk if he We talked a few people into paying us to do photo
was allowed to come on the class trip to the Bronx Zoo. shoots here over the years.
That, of course, was ridiculous, so I offered to chaperone.
All these little kids and parents took the train to the Free Food
Bronx from the sleepy Berkshires in Massachusetts. He, This was a few days after Hurricane Sandy. This boat
of course, did not run away, and it was an aggressive washed up on the highway and someone spray painted
day at the zoo. The kids got to see a polar bear eat a “ free food” on it. A woman walking her dog told me
duck, a snake swallow a rabbit, and a mother beating a guy with a food truck came out here to give people
her little son as she dragged him down 183rd street. free food and water because they were cut off from
Afterwards, I walked around to shoot, and happened everything for weeks and he just wanted to help.
upon this scene: kids playing and a little girl running
around with a plastic bag over her face. Da Bronx

26 WINTER 2018
PICTURE BOOK

JUXTAPOZ .COM 27
PICTURE BOOK

28 WINTER 2018
PICTURE BOOK

Woman’s March, D.C. Iggy Pop


I love her sign and her strong, confident eyes. She gives Iggy Pop, the ultimate reflection of the energy of this @cheryldunn
me hope for the future. town. This shot was taken at ATP at an old borscht @everybodystreet
belt hotel in upstate NY. The likes of Sinatra and the
Dash at the HOLE Rat Pack played here in the ornate and now crumbling
Now closed, it was a gay bar that was filled with all the ballrooms… the whole place was filled with friends
derels wilding out. One night, when I was there, Dash sleeping for the weekend in the soggy rooms next to a
ran in and said, “Cheryl, someone just punched me in geese shit pond. It was epic.
the face. Take my picture.” So, here it is...

JUXTAPOZ .COM 29
Tieken

TIEKEN GALLERY | LA TIEKEN GALLERY | AZ


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DESIGN

We See A Darkness
Hobbies and Horror’s Cabinet of Curiosities
It almost feels like a crime to call Sarah Sitkin a Evan Pricco: I guess you would consider yourself a Everything I wanted to know, I could just search on
“designer.” Her sculptural work combines so many sculpturist, but it goes so much beyond that with the internet instantly, from anywhere in the world,
elements of fine art, set and costume design, not elements of set design in your recent works. What, for free. I tried taking some community college art
to mention just plain old “Oh my God, how did she at this point in your career, do you call yourself? courses, but didn’t last more than a few weeks before
do that?” art that doesn’t succumb to labels. From Sarah Sitkin: I have always had a hard time describing I was over it. I worked all through my teens and
solo shows at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles, my work in general terms. It does incorporate set early twenties at my family’s hobby shop. Kit Kraft
where we first caught her work in person, to new design, also costuming and sculpture. I would just introduced me to everything. The shop was located
sculptural works for the SyFy channel’s excellent call myself an artist. I try not to limit my creative in a magic place in time—right in the heart of the Los
series, Channel Zero, Sitkin is redefining that narrow ideas to one field or title. Angeles special effects industry in the late 1990s and
margin between fine art design, traditional special early ’00s. The shop carried all kinds of specialty items
effects and production design. A childhood growing It seems that, especially in Los Angeles, the to cater to the talented sculptors, painters, and model
up around her family’s hobby store in the heart of role of the costume or set designer leads one builders and the studios they worked for.
the film industry has led Sarah to create her own to Hollywood, and in that, perhaps a lot of
cinematic vision, where explorations into silicone, training and schooling to get there. Did you I was making crude castings with dental alginate in
clay, plaster, resin and latex have made her current have formal training? my bedroom in my teens, and pouring polyester resin
body of work one of the most fascinating in Los I never even got a high school diploma. I was a classic in the garage. My parents let me turn my room into a
Angeles today. bad kid, in and out of different school programs until giant installation piece where I would staple fabrics to
I was old enough to permanently ditch class forever. the ceiling, glue found objects to the walls, and weave

32 WINTER 2018 Above left: Self-portrait with Untitled piece, Silicone, hair and resin, 2016 Above right: Untitled, Silicone and resin, 2015
DESIGN

wires and cords between the bars of my bed frame. My Did you consider that work to be more set design of the physical objects I was making. But because
dad would bring me home the damaged merchandise or fine art? of this platform, the documentation became more
from the shop and I would build costumes and My lack of academic credentials and reluctance to important than the physical pieces, which were
sculptures with half-dried clay, broken model kits and follow the standard art world protocol has me feeling discarded or cut up and turned into new objects
exploded tubes of acrylic paint. like an art-world outsider. I get so much love and to be documented. This approach has completely
support from the general public, however, that I feel informed the artistic decisions I’ve made. Both the
I started getting portrait photography work around my work has value and importance regardless of potential and limitations of the social media outlets
the time I was 23, and was able to get just enough being accepted in elite circles. I was using were integral parts in the process.
commission work to support myself in a tiny
apartment in downtown LA. From there, I was Do you think the lack of formal, classical art I assume the Channel Zero project came up through
able to gradually move into a studio space where training has allowed you to be a little bit more social media? Was this your first time working for
I would started constructing sets for my portrait free in what you do? It’s like you learned from just a formal TV production?
photographs. I wanted to incorporate what I learned being around the film industry. Nick Acosta, the showrunner for Channel Zero,
while working at the hobby shop (making molds, While people were in school learning to make approached me about being a creative auteur for his
sculpting, model building, painting) into my artwork that was tailored to integrate into the gallery TV show. I had never worked on a show, but they
photography, so I started taking molds of the portrait system, I was making work to integrate into my own promised freedom to create my own concepts, so
subjects and building those elements into the social media channels. Presenting my work was just I jumped for it and I absolutely loved working on it.
pictures. The work naturally evolved into sculpture as important as the work itself. Lighting, set design, I learned so much. I would love to work on another
from the heavy costuming and set building I was and ephemeral elements all became part of the film project, and in fact, I would love to direct a film
doing for my photographs. artwork in order to present it as a documentation project someday.

Above: Untitled, Silicone, plaster, food and trash, 2014 JUXTAPOZ .COM 33
DESIGN

Was there a big change in the way you worked


when it came to a TV production?
The biggest change was working with assistants and
money. It was wonderful! I had people picking up my
supplies, filing my receipts, organizing my materials
for me and cleaning the shop every night. I still got
to make the work myself, but my crew were the extra
hands I wished I had all my life. The hardest part was
surrendering control over how my work was lit and
the angles it was shot from. Outside of working on
Channel Zero, it’s pretty much me working alone to
make everything— from the molds, to the structural
work, to the final hairs punched into a piece. I do it
all myself.

There is obviously this element of horror and the


grotesque in your work, but there is also just the
sheer skill of presenting almost hyperreal, alternative
realities. How do you balance these two elements?
Experience as a human being is horrifying to me,
and that is reflected onto the things I make. Honestly,
most of the time, I don’t even realize something is
creepy until people give me feedback. I usually think
I’m creating intense visual metaphors or transcribing
my experience.

So, I just gave you feedback? In that vein, what is the


best thing someone has said about your work when
they have walked into one of your gallery shows or
commented on your social media feeds?
This girl who made a hand-knitted version of one
of my masks brought it to my art show last year and
gave it to me. She’s a dentist by profession, and I
have always wanted to be a dental technician. We
stay in touch and send pictures to each other of
surgical tools and interesting medical devices. I am
just as fascinated with her work as she seems to
be with mine. I’m excited by how artwork tends to
be a magnet drawing together people with similar
interests. I love that my work has attracted all these
people into my life and weaved us together with a
common thread, even though often we do completely
different things.

Sarah as a 10-year-old: what was your favorite


movie, TV show, and book?
Honestly my life didn’t even start until I hit puberty.
At 10, I was probably into whatever my parents
wanted me to be into.

Okay, Sarah Sitkin now: what are the things that


are influencing you?
The natural world has my attention. I was really mechanisms. Learning is the biggest catalyst for the concept of the art carrying the "burden" of the
into technology, engineering and digital realities creativity in my life. I love researching. bodies. For example, some, not all of the wearable
for most of my adult life, but in this past year, I pieces, will be made with the intention that they are
have really been interested in what is tangible, and What are you working on next? interactive and show the participant what it feels like
how it came to be that way. I love understanding I am working on a solo art show, Insecurity Blanket, to be in that particular body, and the stresses of it.
how changing environments brought different which is focused on wearable pieces. I’m making
biology and behaviors. I am also fascinated by skin suits, prosthetics, and non-invasive body Sarah Sitkin’s solo show at Superchief Gallery in
human psychology, behavioral patterns and coping modification pieces.The context of the skin suits is downtown Los Angeles opens on December 17, 2017.

34 WINTER 2018 Top: Untitled, Plaster, resin and silicone, 2014 Bottom left: Untitled, Silicone, wool and plaster, 2015 Bottom right: Sevdaliza ISON album cover, Silicone, resin and hair, 2017
SOLO EXHIBIT FEATURING WORKS BY JASON PULGARIN

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OPENING RECEPTION 7-10PM

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FASHION

Kerin Rose Gold


Hide and Seek
Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga…
the list of celebrities who sport Kerin Rose Gold’s
eyewear and accessories line could fill the space
of this introduction. Like Beyonce, Debbie Harry,
Johnny Weir… you get the picture. Then there are
the grandmas and furry pups who smile broadly
while wearing her frames. Not for the incognito or
inconsequential, these glasses broaden the palette
and lift the mood. In short, for anyone seeking to
add a dash or dollop of spice to life, Kerin’s brand,
A-morir, frames the world nicely.

Gwynned Vitello: Despite seemingly sprung from a


Disney Light Show Parade, is it true you grew up
in the kind of beach town where people dress in
white and go to “summer”?
Kerin Gold: I grew up in Port Washington, a town on
the north shore of Long Island, a 35-minute train
ride from Midtown Manhattan, a commuter town
on the sound that also feels like vacation. One area
of Port Washington is “East Egg” in The Great Gatsby.
It’s really beautiful but I didn’t appreciate it as much
as I should have growing up (what kid does?)

Reflecting back, it was a wonderful upbringing.


I had a lot of independence and could walk to the
train and go to concerts in the city with friends when I was 15. I went to a great public school that in my parents’ garage. I was always babysitting
had a terrible football team, but four separate or working during the summers, and most of my
choirs, and I was in all of ‘em! The neighborhood money went towards concert tickets.
was diverse, which was a huge plus.
Barbies used to be the default birthday gift for girls,
I know that painting and music both played a so you had to come to terms with them somehow.
part in your childhood, but I have the feeling that Did you collect, mutilate, or bake them into cakes?
books did, too. What else am I missing? Movies? Oh man, I started mutilating my Barbies at an
What would you have been doing in your free early age—armchair analyze that as you will. I’m
time as a young woman? very lucky my parents didn’t police what I wore
Books played a huge part in my upbringing. My or played with based on my gender, so I played
maternal grandparents were avid book collectors; with Transformers and Ninja Turtles as much as
when they moved homes in the 1990s, we estimated Barbies, which got full makeovers that turned
their house had 10,000 books. There is even a Simon them into Wendy O. Williams clones before
and Rosalyn Gold Judaica Library in Queens College I knew who she was. In high school, I made Barbie
comprised of their donated books. I have one of sculptures that were not allowed to be put on
their early editions of The Picture of Dorian Gray, display: a bleeding Barbie with a computer chip in
and I definitely got a talking-to from my English her back, strewn among a pile of condoms, bloody
teacher in seventh grade for writing a book report tampons and razor blades, or climbing up a ladder
on Capote’s In Cold Blood—another early edition to a pill bottle. Rudimentary stuff, but not bad for
book from their house that I still treasure. an angsty teenager.

All of my spare time went to art, books, and hanging Something that may define you is being the
out with friends. Besides the school choirs, I was daughter of an immigrant. We lived many years
on the drama club board, I co-ran our school’s TV with my grandparents who were both from Italy.
studio, took piano and art lessons, and painted My clothes were embroidered, pots of spaghetti

36 WINTER 2018 Above left: Portrait by Sophy Holland Above: Photo by Jared Ryder
FASHION

sauce were on the stove, green beans from the Creatively, I don’t think it would occur to me to life that I was unable to have for the nine years
garden for dinner. It seemed to impart a richer think of things as mistakes. I’m always evolving and I was sick. It was, in a way, a bottom. I realized I hated
culture, not to mention a work ethic. getting better—all my mistakes have been learning my job and had to figure out what was next. Those
A hard work ethic was instilled from day one, for experiences. In starting and running your own states are both terrifying, and in the right mindset,
sure. My maternal great-grandparents immigrated business, you have to work up the courage to be incredibly freeing. It opened doors mentally.
from Europe and my grandparents grew up in fearless as both an artist and a businessperson.
depression-era Brooklyn. My dad came here from One door being your major in costume history.
Israel in the early ’70s with a thousand dollars and What must also have defined you was being ill as It sounds like a very rich experience to be
a couch to sleep on for a month. Culturally, it was a a young woman. Did you feel isolated or unlike immersed in fabrics and stories.
bilingual household, and there was both Israeli and yourself? Because you seem now to be a ball It’s essentially learning about costumes, dressing
American music (and a lot of hummus, naturally) but of energy. Did it change your perspective and, garments, and clothing, the same way you would
food-wise, we weren’t up to our eyeballs in za'atar! somehow, open any doors? study art history. There’s a lot of research, reading
Being diagnosed with severe Ulcerative Colitis at and writing, so, to be honest, I dropped out of the
Did that also encourage your ability to craft, to make 16 was, naturally, very impactful. Being chronically master’s program. I take education very seriously
things? You definitely are in that comfort zone. Did ill isn’t like having the flu, where you almost die on but wasn’t able to devote as much to undergrad
you ever have any formal kind of training? There your couch for two weeks, but then you’re fine— studies at NYU because I was so sick. I can always
must be a lot of experimentation, so in turn, a lot of you’re like that forever. You have to learn how to live go back to school, but not the work I had started
trial and error on the way. in a different reality. I couldn’t think about a future doing, and A-morir was snowballing.
My parents were very encouraging of our creativity because I didn’t know if I’d be healthy enough to get
(my sister is a doctor). I was always in an art class, out of bed tomorrow. I didn’t talk about what I was Now I get to hear about how you made your first
and they let me turn the garage into a de-facto art going through with anyone; not my teachers, not my design. Tell me how that came about and how it
studio. But the immigrant mentality also made employers, not my friends. It was rough. made you feel.
them very pragmatic about a career. I started music I didn’t go about making my first product
marketing in college, and it never crossed my mind When I went into remission at 25, I was emotionally intentionally. Like all of my crystal works, I made
that I would be able to make any sort of living from prepared to have a post-traumatic stress breakdown. something for myself. In fact, I had bought crystals
artwork, ever, because who does that? I finally had the emotional bandwidth to process the because I thought I was getting a new phone, and

Above left: Photo by Jared Ryder Above right: Photos by Kerin Rose Gold JUXTAPOZ .COM 37
FASHION

didn’t, and then I broke my only pair of glasses. I was MMA, I hope Conor McGregor has shown men that
broke at the time, as well, so got a pair of five-dollar they can think differently about glamour. Anyone who
street glasses. I really wanted something special, so gets a bespoke suit made with “Fuck You” pinstripes for
I decided to make them special. I never in a million a press conference, I have nothing but respect for.
years thought someone would want to purchase
them, but then I started getting chased down the Are you particularly drawn to urban life? What
street—literally. Numerous times. So I figured, “Shit, attracted you to Madrid when you went to school?
this doesn’t exist in the marketplace currently; Are cosmopolitan areas more inspiring?
maybe I have something here.” My parents would take us to the city to museums,
to the opera, and that was always in NYC. I have
I hate wearing contact lenses, so I really need a vivid memory of being four or so and driving
glasses. They used to feel like a barrier, but now across Houston, and that left me rapt. NYC is not
I enjoy them. What role do accessories have for for everyone, but it’s very much for me. I love
you, or if you want to expand, how about fashion, encountering multiple languages and cultures
in general? every day. The energy of Manhattan, where I live
It’s funny because, by definition, accessories and work, centers me, and for that reason, I have
are supplemental. I love them because they are always been attracted to cities. However, in the last
suggestive. I’m more intrigued by what a woman is few years, I’ve appreciated going somewhere remote
saying in a sweatsuit and showgirl earrings versus with a creative project.
the obviousness of a bandage dress (though I respect
both choices!) An over-the-top pair of glasses is
instant glamour. The role that fashion has for me I got to the point where I wanted a separate space
is an essay unto itself. But I will say this: fashion, and was tired of tripping over work stuff every
to me, has always been my medium of expression. time I went to the bathroom. I’m finally in a space
I don’t abide by current trends, but I deeply value that really feels like home. Now all the walls are
actual couture as an art form, and I appreciate the black, with a ton of books, curated ephemera,
importance of fashion as one of many reflections of framed things on the walls, candy corn pillows, a
what is happening in our culture Benson & Stabler throw on the couch and a paper
mache cactus. We have N’SYNC mannequins and
Which singers or actors kind of embody your Muppet figurines, an apartment for a grown child.
philosophy of clothing? I live with my boyfriend Nick, who owns Fool’s
My personal clothing philosophy is to wear what Gold Records, so we have turntables and a music
makes you feel comfortable, and I relate to people production area. We’re always working, so it’s a
who do that most. Bowie, Rollins, RuPaul, Miss Piggy, really creative space.
they’re all living as their most authentic selves. And
any celebrity who takes chances on the red carpet— The studio is similar, but stuffed with fake flowers,
I am so bored with each one looking like a prom. campaign images, headpieces, crystals and
Celine Dion is really killing it, and I love the chances eyewear. And the walls are white. There’s a framed
that Solange and Rihanna take. While I don’t follow Guerilla Girls poster next to my desk, which I highly
recommend for any female identifying as creative.

You’ve said you don’t use idea boards, and that Have you exhausted all the potential
you really value collaboration. embellishments there are to work with, or is there
It’s true, I don’t make mood/idea boards. I don’t something you would love to get your hands on?
like the idea of doing inspiration research because Just when I think I’ve exhausted all embellishment,
I don’t want that work to unintentionally influence I find something new to use or figure out a way
my designs. I personally find that restrictive. to interpret a design technique. There is always
I like to let things come as they come. I love something new.
collaboration because it forces me to expand my
skillset and figure out things I wouldn’t normally I know you love figure skating, so are you going to
have made time for. It’s like getting really fun go see Margot Robbie in the Tonya Harding movie?
homework assignments for a class you’ve always I paid to go see Stars on Ice in college! I was once
wanted to take. woken up in the middle of the night by my sister
for a trivia question where the answer was Surya
I always like to hear about studios. Is yours live/ Bonaly—and I am going to the advance screening of
work, and if it’s not, does your home have a the Tonya Harding movie, how about that?
different atmosphere?
For the first four or five years, I worked out of my See more of Kerin Rose Gold’s designs at
apartment on a small table, then converted my kerinrosegold.com.
dining area to a small but effective studio.

38 WINTER 2018 Above: Photos by Sophy Holland


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INFLUENCES

Mike Lee Is Floating in Space


Atmospheric Disturbance
Those of us who are not astronauts or skydivers meant to be, in a way, generic. That way anyone design for those. I'm trying to get the most engaging
will probably never get to experience the actual who views the work can bring any past life shapes and hopefully represent a certain type of
feeling of floating in space. Yet weightlessness is experiences to the paintings. I don't know if person. Sometimes I even try to bring in really
an exceptionally appealing physical and mental you've seen dolls for children that are blank with subtle political or social elements without being
concept. Rather than bearing the “weight of the no features? I like how they become a mold for overly obvious.
world,” it uplifts with a sensation of ultimate whatever is desired. It's that kind of idea—trying to
freedom and deliverance. Digital media professional remove facial features, the physical base, so people What’s an example of such an element in your
Mike Lee developed a process using everyday can fill in the blanks. I want to be inclusive so that work?
tools to construct atmospheric oils that depict any race, gender or ethnicity can see themselves One was around the time Trayvon Martin was
just that feeling. His figures levitate in a void, in the work. At the same time, I'm trying to make killed. So my reaction was to slowly introduce
with meticulous grayscale gradients, rendering my paintings appealing, so, hopefully, on the hoodies into my work. I try not to be overtly
conspicuous light effects. Drama and mystery hover superficial level, people can enjoy a nice image. political because I just never feel like I know
beyond the harmonious surface. Eliminating key And if they wanna dive deeper, they could find enough about it, but I've always been a real
pieces, Lee leaves it up to the viewer to complete meaning within it, too. observer, so all I bring to my work are the things
the picture and create their own puzzle. I've seen and experienced.
Aside from trying to produce generic images,
Sasha Bogojev: Is there a certain time and place there are some details such as clothes or That meshes with the idea of forgoing details.
where your images are set? hairstyles. How important are they and how much Since your work is mostly about feelings and
Mike Lee: No, it's more about absence. I'm trying attention do you give to them? emotions you've personally experienced, how do
to remove any sort of narrative, and everything's I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the right you translate those into such harmonious images?

42 WINTER 2018 Above left: Four Figures, Oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2016 Portrait: Veronica Jones
INFLUENCES

A lot of times, there isn't a specific emotion. It's in a space. So it can be floating in a void space, For sure! Not the gray part, but more from the
more about using the light to create a certain type or underwater, which is pretty much the same experiences and people that the city attracts.
of drama or setting. And. again, the intent is that thing. Just removing gravity. Also, I'm not very Also the energy I get from everyone around me
everyone who views the work can project their knowledgeable when it comes to art history, so constantly pushes me to work harder.
own life onto it. I've gotten a lot of reactions like, I rely on friends who know way more than me.
"Oh these are really depressing images," which is At one point, they pointed me toward all the beach Are you saying that light and shadow are
interesting. That wasn't my intent. paintings by classical artists, so I started bringing a very big part of your work, the source of
those ideas into the work. the atmosphere, rather than the characters
I was going to say that I’ve always found themselves?
your images uplifting and positive, perhaps Speaking of art history, do you have a particular The posing definitely adds to it. I suppose it goes
melancholic, but never depressing. artist or art movement that influences or hand-in-hand—the specific pose along with the
I've gotten similar reactions to yours, too. Some inspires you? light. For instance, in the body of work I just painted
people find them really amusing, some people I pretty much love every aspect of art as long as for the Japan show, I wanted to evoke positivity with
laugh. There's a pretty wide array. I can see authenticity in the work. But rather than the work. So I wanted to bring in more active and
having reference sheets, I like to just remember the dynamic poses.
Are there any references to gender in your work? impression paintings, drawings, and installations
There are definitely male and female figures, but had on me. It becomes a hodgepodge of influences Most of your work is very small scale. Why do you
sometimes I purposely blur gender lines to avoid where, hopefully, the viewer won't identify another chose to work in that size?
absolute definitions. I want to include everyone. artist in my work. I do my best to be as original as I think, initially, because I was still learning how to
Hopefully, those in the LGBTQ community can possible, so if I see someone doing something similar, handle the medium, I just wanted to make sure that
see themselves in the work as well. I'm trying to be I lose interest and will go in another direction. I could generate as much work as possible. I'm still
considerate toward everyone and bring many layers learning through each painting. At the same time,
of ideas to the work. Where did you grow up? I like the idea of making smaller works that aren't
I’m from a small city called Placentia in Southern too expensive and pretty much anyone can afford
I've noticed that lately you've been constructing California. It was like every other suburban them. I just wanted people to have the work.
more complex pieces with many different neighborhood. I found myself being anxious from
characters. boredom so I always tried to find ways to fill my You don't have any formal artistic or painting
The earlier work was about a single figure, and time. But when I think back, the days spent in the education, do you?
sometimes I'd pair them up, but now I'm trying to pool or at the beach were pretty significant. I moved No. I've been painting for about two and a half
get more graphic with the overall composition. to New York in 2007 after working in San Francisco, years now, but all my friends are painters, so I'd
I'll actually start with abstract shapes and compose and I was really surprised how much it immediately just learn from them. It was pretty much pencil
figures to fit that design. felt like home. The pacing, people, transit, food, art. and pen throughout college. Then I moved on to
It was how I always imagined myself living. Copic markers and pens, trying to mimic the feel
I keep thinking of synchronized swimming when of graphite. I played around with other mediums,
I'm looking at those. Am I far off? For me, NYC always felt like a giant, gray but I couldn't find anything that came close to the
I think it ultimately deals with being suspended megalopolis. Does that influence your work? richness of oils.

Left: Sitting Figure, Pen and Ink on Paper, 11” x 14”, 2016 Middle: You and Me, Oil on panel, 16” x 20”, 2017 Right: Standing Girl 1, Pen and Ink on Paper, 8” x 10”, 2016 JUXTAPOZ .COM 43
INFLUENCES

Was it something you just started in your spare time, Your images seem to be easily translatable to 3D. I was going to ask about your color palette.
or more of a personal challenge to become an artist? Do you have any interest in sculpture? Did you ever consider trying anything else other
It wasn't so much about wanting to be an artist, but That’s my dream. I’m pretty sure I’d need help, than greyscale?
it wasn't just a hobby either. I just wanted to create but I’d love to create large public art sculptures or I've been thinking about it for a few years. If I'm
something for myself. And there was something installations. I haven’t had any opportunities yet, gonna go with color, it's gonna be a complete 180.
more tactile about original work, something I can't but I’m sure I will one day! Full saturation!
really get from a digital image.
What about motion? Especially considering your Just neon and fluoro!
That can be an issue with digital art. digital media background, do you ever imagine Yeah! I love contrasting ideas. So if that day comes,
It's not like the digital side is less skilled. I definitely your work coming to life? it's gonna be bold.
appreciate good design no matter what medium. I was thinking about possibly creating an animated
I guess I just prefer the human touch. short film. I was thinking of working on something Mike Lee opened a new show this fall at Amala Gallery
like that one day. And I can be OCD, so I'd probably in Tokyo.
go crazy and just end up rendering every frame by
by myself.

44 WINTER 2018 Above: Swimmers, Oil on canvas, 30” x 24”, 2017


TRAVEL INSIDER

México City
The Center Holds
It’s easy to romanticize México City with architects, and filmmakers who continue to fall in theater, music, opera and dance performances, and its
its colorful balance of tradition, modernity, love with its charms. several floors of murals by México’s most renowned
affordability, arts and culture. On the flip side, there painters make it worth a visit.
is the temptation of viewing it through a lens of I tend to approach a new place by trying my best to
staggering statistics, pollution, political uncertainty, get lost, and that’s really easy in México City. The Twice the size of New York’s Central Park,
cartel violence and poverty. Home to over 25 colonial center is built atop and mirrors the streets Chapultepec Forest are the lungs of the city and
million, and covering 3,700 square miles, Greater of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. the most important ecological space. Divided into
México City, or Distrito Federal (DF), has a larger Elsewhere, repeating circular layouts entwine up several sections with running trails, ponds, and
population and economy than over 100 countries in against traditional grids that flow into long avenues memorials, the park is home to the largest and most
the world. Reality is complicated, and tragically, as that, for the unfamiliar, defy logic. visited museum in México, the National Museum
we were forced to remember in September, 2017, it is of Anthropology. Chapultepec Castle looks down
vulnerable to the destructive potential of the region's Park Life upon the city from atop a large hill above the
shifting tectonic plates. Providing no guidance with city navigation, but lovely contemporary art museum, Museo Rufino Tamayo.
nonetheless, are the city’s many parks. Alameda
I have some recommendations based on my visit to Central, located in the heart of downtown, was the A testament to how quickly the city is changing,
México City, experienced just a few weeks before first urban park on the continent and draws large Jardín del Arte Sullivan was initially recommended
the earthquake, and my lasting imprint of a city crowds to outdoor sculptures, fountains, markets, and to me by local photographer Mark Powell as “one of
that is magnetic, a laboratory of inspiration for public concerts. At the East end, Palacio de Bellas, one the last un-gentrified parks in central México City,
generations of writers, painters, photographers, of the city’s most prominent cultural centers, hosts full of colorful concrete-poured benches and ledges,

46 WINTER 2018 All photography: Alex Nicholson Above: Mexico City skyline
TRAVEL INSIDER

giant bird cages and still lots of glue sniffers around


keeping it real.” A few months later, and it has been
already been cordoned off for remodeling.

Museums
México City has more museums than any other city
in the world except London. Beyond those you'll
find in guidebooks, institutions dedicated to the
city's legacy of art and history, are the side streets,
in sometimes distant neighborhoods, where you’ll
discover buildings and the occasional back room
or attic with more unusual collections. There are
exhibitions dedicated to antique shoes, communist
revolutionaries, and even one housing mummies
discovered by Zapatistas searching for buried
treasure. Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexicano in
Doctores holds the self-proclaimed world's largest
private toy collection. Throughout the four-story
building, toys overflow from every inch of floor,
wall, and ceiling space.

South of the city center, the largest university


in the world, UNAM is home to the Teodoro
González de León-designed University Museum of
Contemporary Art. Nearby, unimaginable varieties
of cactus line the snaking paths and hidden coves
of one of the oldest botanical gardens in México,
the Instituto de Biologia. The 420-acre campus also as well as Museo Anahuacalli, the Diego Rivera- studio or a visit to the floating bookshelves of
has its own ecological reserve where the land art designed pyramid dedicated to Pre-Hispanic art. Biblioteca Vasconcelos, designed by Alberto Kalach.
masterpiece, Espacio Escultórico, is located. Diego and Frida lived not too far away and you can Northeast of Mexico City, the famous pyramids of
visit their beautiful home and studios designed by Teotihuacan are well worth the day trip.
North of campus, Coyoacan, a former rural village fellow artist and architect Juan O'Gorman. You could
that eventually lost its farms, lakes, and forests to spend months touring world-famous architecture in Roma is home to Galeria OMR, MAIA Contemporary,
the all-consuming city, is a hub of art, culture, and México City, but a brief taste might include booking and Galleria Licenciado, among others. Closer to
history. It’s where Museo de Frida Kahlo is located, an appointment to see Luis Barragán’s home and Polanco and not too far from Museo Soumaya and
Museo Jumex are Anonymous Gallery and Galeria
Luis Adelantado. In Centro Historico, a block from
Alameda Central and next to his clothing company
Tony Delfino, is artist Smithe’s newest endeavor,
TOBA Gallery. While in Centro Historico, keep your
eyes peeled for world-class murals from international
stars of street art as well as a constantly shifting
canvas of graffiti and murals by local artists. A fun
alternative is Stylewalk MX, which has enlisted the
expertise of several of the artists themselves to offer
in-depth and informed tours of the downtown street
art and graffiti scene.

Getting Around
Even with a fairly robust public transit system, the
traffic in México City is often horrendous. The metro,
used by around seven million people every day, has
12 lines and 195 stations, and can be a convenient
way to explore if sitting in traffic or walking sounds
exhausting. This subterranean world is an experience
in itself, with hidden gems like Talismán station,
which houses the fossilized remains of a mammoth
that workers uncovered during construction. Another,
Pino Suárez, is built around an Aztec pyramid. Some
of the larger stations have shopping, food, art exhibits

Below: Park scene Above (clockwise from top left): Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, Smithe x Dems One Mural, Ericailcane Mural JUXTAPOZ .COM 47
TRAVEL INSIDER

and the occasional spontaneous salsa concert. You


can also take the Metro to see places a little out of the
way, like the iconic head sculpture and monument
to former president Benito Juárez at La Cabeza de
Juárez in Iztapalapa.

Food, Drink, and Mariachis


Around any corner will be some small tables and
chairs shaded by big umbrellas or stools pulled up
to a more elaborate food stand. Everyone has their
own favorite taco stand, and you should ask around
and try all of them.

At some point, follow the high-pitched whistle


which leads to a charcoal oven on wheels. Beneath
the Camote Cart’s whistling smoke stack are
roasting sweet potatoes and plantains which, served
with even sweeter strawberry syrup and condensed
milk, are a common evening snack.

There is no shortage of clubs in México City but


one of the more culturally unique is Patrick
Miller, a nightclub which appears to be frozen in
time. Crowds separate into circles, cheering on
’80s-style dance-offs which occasionally morph
into coordinated line dancing led by an office
manager blowing off steam after a long day at the
office. Nowhere will you find such a diverse mix of
personalities, generations, and styles.

Mescal is the drink of choice in much of México but


its thousand year-old ancestor, Pulque has recently
enjoyed a resurgence and can be found in a new wave
of trendy bars such as Pulqueria Los Insurgentes,
where patrons swig giant mugs of the thick, white,
slimy, fermented cactus sap and dance beneath
Daniel Lezama paintings. Disregard descriptions of
the drink’s texture; it has a fascinating history and is
worth experiencing. A plaque on the wall outside a
Pulqueria at Plaza Garibaldi advertises the drink as
a favorite of the Aztec emperors.

Garibaldi is where you go, literally any hour of


the day, if you decide you need a Mariachi. Packs
of musicians offer their services to passing traffic station into the middle of the market means winding tradition, art, and color, but also with rebellion,
as well as visitors and patrons of food and drink through a maze of vendors selling everything from bad governments, poverty, and injustice. It is for
establishments inside the square. It is an incredible pots and pans to three-piece-suits for your toddler. all of these reasons I continue to stay here, taking
place for people watching. inspiration from every part of this place.”
Across the street, Mercado de Sonora, referred to
Markets by tourists as, “The Witchcraft Market,” is where to Killing nearly 300 and flattening buildings across the
Find open air markets or neighborhoods dedicated to go for a taxidermied horse head or potion for your city and region, the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that
certain goods, unlike the big box stores and Amazon broken heart. Aisles are lined with voodoo dolls, struck on September 19, 2017 devastated a country
delivery services. On Sundays, down the street from medicinal herbs and the occasional endangered already reeling from another earthquake that struck
Plaza Garibaldi, La Lagunilla Market hosts a flea animal carcass, among other things. less than two weeks prior. Rebuilding and healing is a
and antique market where an eclectic collection of lengthy process, but hopefully this famously resilient
books, memorabilia, masks and other arts and crafts I intended on visiting México City for a week, maybe city will emerge even stronger. —Alex Nicholson
from the last hundred or so years line the sidewalks. two, but ended up staying a month and feeling
Get there early and plan several hours of digging for like I needed a year, maybe more, to even begin to Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is on
treasure. Mercado de la Merced is one of the city’s experience the place. As the artist Saner relates, view at San Francisco’s de Young Museum through
oldest and largest markets. Emerging from the metro “It is rich in every sense, with nature, history, February 11, 2018.

48 WINTER 2018 Clockwise (from top): La Lagunilla Antique Market, Plaza Garibaldi, Street Food scene, Mexico City Subway
IN SESSION

All Hands
on Deck
Ben Maltz Gallery at
Otis College of Art and Design
Running late for LAX and frantically looking out the window of your
Lyft, it’s so reassuring to see the familiar punch-card-designed Otis College
of Art and Design building, its primary color flags waving good news that
your destination is only minutes away. Occupying the former IBM Aerospace
building, it is not only a Los Angeles landmark and part of the city’s historical
narrative, but an active player in southern California’s cultural dialogue.
In 1922, it was the largest art school west of Chicago. Through the 1940s,
Norman Rockwell was the summer artist-in-residence, and during the 1950s,
it stoked and nurtured the California ceramics revolution. Not only did the
2000s spawn graduate programs in writing, fashion, graphic design, teacher
training and other disciplines, it also partnered with groups like the Surf-
rider Foundation, Global Green USA and the Center for Autism and Related
Disorders. Former Juxtapoz cover artist Camille Rose Garcia and current cover
artist Kerry James Marshall are among its alumni, along with mavericks like
Billy Al Bengston and John Baldessari.

At Otis, art, indeed, is life, a vibrant process that is celebrated at the Ben
Maltz Gallery, self-described as, “equal parts public forum, classroom and
laboratory,” since 2001. The newest show at the gallery, which charges
no admission, is All Hands on Deck, opening January 21, 2018. Conceived
in a world that challenges identity, nationality, and social class, a mix of
abstraction and figuration meet in the gallery. Mostly three-dimensional,
fingers flutter, torsos hang loose or stand tall, and they all represent. Each
demonstrates pride and the strength of coming out from the shadows.
We chose a piece by Cammie Staros, whose hand-built objects marry
contemporary sculpture, Modernism, antiquity and craft. Looking to the
voluptuous amphorae of ancient Greece and Egypt, her sculptures are both
historically rooted and bracingly present. Using a physical vocabulary shared
by many venerable cultures alongside industrial applications like neon
and steel, Staros’s work reveals semiotic systems created and strengthened
throughout art history.

Cammie’s work in All Hands on Deck examines representation and lucidity


through her investigation of architecture, ancient pottery and a physical
vocabulary. References to the body, particularly in female form, through the
combined lens of early pottery and the innovation of Modernism, result in
familiar but challenging pieces. The stacked clay pot column forms a sensuous
totem with a captivating narrative.

All Hands on Deck is on view at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and
Design in Los Angeles January 21–April 22, 2018. The public is invited to
the opening reception January 21st from 4–6 p.m.

50 WINTER 2018 Above: Column, ceramic, steel, cement, 14 x 13 x 116”, image curtesy of Ghebaly Gallery and the artist
PROFILE

Laugh Now
People Power in the Stencil
“Please don’t mention that I’m a street artist, Authentic street art’s impending demise, or at way, not produced for a community, but a shout-
I’m a neo-muralist,” so implored an artist with whom least its dilution, recalls the first piece of street art, out to create a community. Some mural artists,
I was recently working in spite of my knowing that first stencil, that hit me with an impact like often through necessity, have to be coaxed in
that he’d spent the last ten years nurturing and no mural ever has. Like a song, it contained the the way they communicate politics, but I’m tired
living off a culture that was almost the antithesis power to make you want to leave your small town of nuance. There are people, companies and
of this current shift to the municipally sanctioned and small life for better things. It sparked both organizations out there quite prepared to use
and corporate mural trend. Now, I’m not against art and activism in eyes tired from an advertising mural artists as the shock troops of gentrification,
muralism as such. It’s a powerful medium with assault I had experienced on the taxi ride from bulldozing an area and clearing a path for
a rich history, particularly in the Americas, with the airport to central London where I was to DJ. developers, mine stripping the culture as it goes.
often strong associations to social justice issues and Lugging my record box (yes, vinyl) from the back We need to be prepared to offer and fight for
community building, though now communities of the cab, I was confronted with a slightly less alternative platforms, patrons, finance and events
currently being built tend to integrate a type of than life-size, single-layer stencil of a chimpanzee if the culture is to maintain any authentic link to
generic muralism into their new build projects. holding a sandwich board boldly stating, “Laugh its radical roots. In the meantime, let’s celebrate
Such add-on artists, complicit with the unashamed now, but one day we’ll be in charge.” Appearing the anonymous and unsung heroes of stencil
abandonment of street art’s original rhetoric of at a time when transgression was not simply a art, those nameless champions of unsanctioned
transgressive spontaneity, premeditated with marketing technique, its immediate cultural value human scale works whose rebellions challenge
developers in a kind of faux subversion. But if they far exceeded any possible commercial value. the corporate world.
still put art on the streets for people to hashtag and There were no street level stencil art marketing
enjoy, what’s the problem, you might ask? campaigns, so it was undoubtedly art. But what sort In a culture where anti-authoritarianism can be
of art was this? Who had created it, was it animal “diagnosed” and medicated against as a disorder,
The problem is, of course, the same one that street rights related, was I the monkey, was it public art, one where contemporary art is in thrall to the
art initially set out to challenge. Such mechanisms did it relate to graffiti? market, we need quick, simple and very public
and conduits to power within public space, so, by transgressive acts. The stencil offers a form that
default, public art, desire an ever-more passive Stripped of these references, it left me momentarily echoes Joseph Beuys famous statement, “Everyone is
audience primed to consume #muralart in the same lost. Like all good art, it pushed me down a rabbit an artist,” in the most literal sense.
manner they consume advertising and product. hole to live for a moment in a different world. A
world away from the city, my dislocated self and the In the beginning, you’ll feel like a fraud, a faker,
In a culture of globalised brands and neo-liberal information overload I’d just experienced. It was and you can damn well bet you’ll be inauthentic.
ideology, this one-size fits-all style of public mural art 2001, and it was, of course, Banksy’s Laugh Now. But continue, and somewhere along the line, you
is ideal for clone developments and gentrification just may create an incantation that reverberates
projects. Middle of the road, middle class and middle- This wild counterpoint to the regulated and triggers action. Believe in the idea of art, love
brow, it is fast becoming the Mumford and Sons of distribution of images and signs in a public space and community.
street art, creating a culture that seeks nothing more triggered a lifelong obsession with street art, which
than your uncritical compliance. has, in its authenticity, never lost the power of that As critic and author Robert Hughes asked in the
first defiant punch, a punch that instantly knocked 1980s in The Shock of the New: "What does one
All of this got me thinking—what can be done to the art education out of me. It acted as a trigger not prefer? An art that struggles to change the social
wrestle back “street art” from corporate property only to thought, but to action, and that same year, I contract but fails? Or one that seeks to please and
speculators and those organisations dedicated to established the Nuart Festival. amuse and succeeds?" I leave it to readers to decide
profiting, parasitically, from a culture predicated which is which. Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in
on transgression and resistance to this onslaught Stencil art is the tool the powerless already charge. —Martyn Reed
of capital and video projector-assisted art. Can this possess. It enables speech in the language of the
coming tsunami of big budget bucket paint and times, leaving traces of the familiar in unfamiliar Martyn Reed is the founder of the seminal annual street
cherry picker productions be averted, and if not, surroundings. Unlike contemporary art, I realized art festival, Nuart, which takes place in Stavanger,
what should all of those concerned do? it was not a mirror, but a compass to show the Norway. He also started Nuart Aberdeen in 2016.

54 WINTER 2018
PROFILE

Above: Photo by Banksy JUXTAPOZ .COM 55


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BOOKS WHAT WE’RE READING

Shimmering Zen: James Stanford Philip Guston: Nixon Drawings New York City Transit Authority:
Finally, a book made for micro-dosing! I spent 1971 & 1975 Objects
about ten minutes with Shimmering Zen and Text by Musa Mayer and Chalk this up as another standout presentation
I’m already booking a weekend in Joshua Tree. Debra Bricker Balken and research project by the Standards Manual
James Stanford is the artist whose photography, It seems appropriate in a year of such political team. The independent publishing imprint,
digital illustration and painting has culminated in turmoil to look back at history for reflection founded by designers Jesse Reed and Hamish
a series of works he calls Indra’s Jewels, a group of and context. Perhaps not since Nixon has Smyth, has been reprinting and re-creating some
digitally reinvented mosaics of patterns that are America’s relationship with its President been so of the hallmarks of graphic design history, most
influenced by the Mojave Desert and landscape controversial and tumultuous. Trump’s first year recently the 1975 NASA Graphic Standards
surrounding Las Vegas, or even Stanford’s earliest in office has led to thousands of artists creating Manual and the 1970 New York City Transit
forays into art, experiencing the great works of work in opposition, protesting the current Authority Graphic Standards Manual. The original
16th-century artist Luis de Morales at the Prado administration’s mishandling of nearly every manuals are exemplary of both great design
Museum in Madrid at the age of 20 in 1968. policy. In 1971, the great American artist Philip and great design ideas. They literally, no pun
These elements have found their way into the Guston had returned to America from Italy after intended, set the standard of how companies
hypnotic, LSD-drenched mandalas, repetitive a move abroad prompted by scalding reviews for and organizations can approach smart design
layerings that carry a deeply subconscious his show at Marlborough Gallery in NYC in 1970. and have an impactful presence. The newest
style. As Elizabeth Herridge writes in her essay What is most striking about this collection is the release from Standards Manual is New York City
for Shimmering Zen, “...a mandala is defined as a satirical depictions of Nixon, works not so much Transit Authority: Objects, with over 400 artifacts
consecrated enclosed space separated from the malicious but biting. As Guston himself noted, related to the New York City Subway, collected
profane by a series of borders guarded by magical “I was pretty disturbed about everything in the and documented by photographer (and Juxtapoz
figures.” Over 260 pages, Stanford’s modern take country politically, the administration specifically, contributor) Brian Kelley. We have followed
on the mandala creates a stream of dreamlike and I started doing cartoon characters. And Brian’s collection on Instagram as it has amassed
experiences, abstract but with tiny details that one thing led to another, and so, for months, I in size, and amazingly, he was able to create a
begin to look like familiar sites in everyday life. “It did hundreds of drawings and they seemed to history of NYC that dates back to the 1850s. In
has been 51 years since I took LSD,” Stanford writes. form a kind of story line, a sequence.” As the some respects, it becomes a compendium of
“I have never felt the need to do it again, such was book notes, Guston made many of these works American industrial history, not only in the design
the impact it had on me. It gave me a glimpse into after conversations with his friend and famed of a train ticket, but the construction of uniforms,
the true nature of enlightenment.” May he pass his author, Philip Roth, which makes sense given organization of labor strikes or just how maps
vibes onto you. —EP the narrative of the works. Of course, when evolve as cities grow. What began as a dedicated
ianthepress.com Nixon resigned after Watergate in 1975, Guston collection of NYC history became a retelling of
reexamined his Nixon obsession and continued urban evolution. The perfect book for history buffs,
the series. The book, made in conjunction with collector culture, and NYC obsessives. —EP
the 2017 exhibitions at both Hauser & Wirth in standardsmanual.com
New York and London, and what Philip Guston:
Nixon Drawings 1971 & 1975 demonstrates, is the
power of language that an artist can wield in times
of unrest, a blueprint for artists who challenge the
inevitable abuses in power. —EP
hauserwirth.com

60 WINTER 2018
ERIK JONES

CARLOS RAMIREZ KIP OMOLADE

NOVEMBER 18 — DECEMBER 16, 2017 JANUARY 6 — FEBRUARY 3, 2018 FEBRUARY 17 — MARCH 17, 2018 MARCH 31 — APRIL 28, 2018

K I P OM OLAD E ERIK JO NES DA NIEL A GDA G K OR A L IE


CARLO S RA MIREZ JO HN JA C O BSMEY E R J A M IE A DA M S

8 8 8 NEWA RK AVENUE │ JERSEY CIT Y, NJ 07306 │ JONAT H ANLEVINEP ROJECT S.CO M


BEAUTIFUL BITS

The VR Roadshow
Artists Get to Play Around in the Future For a Bit
The minds behind the open-source virtual reality Mozilla (makers of Firefox) is showing off the anticipates it becoming a popular medium across
platforms WebVR and A-FRAME dream of a time technology around the globe at their Developer the world.
when anyone with internet access and creative vision Roadshows. Artists and developers can use
can build virtual worlds for the web. These open- A-Painter to craft virtual reality artwork. No Penang, Malaysia-based illustrator and educator
source web standards make the realm of virtual headsets required, but the pieces really shine Charis Loke got to play with WebVR at one of the
reality as accessible as standard websites. Imagine with a Visor or a Google Cardboard. Mozilla is roadshows and immediately saw its potential for
a web gallery that works like a first-person game, or documenting artists and their work in an online storytellers. “When you have a set of tools like
a web game that works with any VR setup. WebVR web series shot in some pretty exotic locations, this, it allows you to tell really powerful stories
and A-Frame give developers tools to build whatever where the films show artist reactions to the tech that elicit responses from the viewers, gets them
they want for VR gear. So far, they’ve used it to and their virtual creations. to do something, to react, to collaborate with other
make games, 360-degree images and video, LEGO- people,” she says. “And that’s only possible if they
like building simulations, shopping apps, and 3D Computer engineer and artist Diego F. Goberna can see the content in the first place, which is why
painting apps. has worked extensively with Mozilla to develop having it on the web is really important.”
A-Painter and several other VR games, and his
It’s an entirely new medium for artists, a way to artwork is being featured in the web series. You can see WebVR in action at one of Mozilla’s
paint and animate in three dimensions intuitively The artist describes painting in VR as, “A whole Developer Roadshows and watch artist reactions in the
and naturally. Apps like A-Painter give artists VR new experience that feels magical but strangely upcoming web series. To get started with WebVR, visit
wands to paint in three dimensions, creating surreal physical and familiar.” He sees the tech as a the hub aframe.io. The site features how-tos, demos, code
sculptures in light and shadow. means to enhance and amplify artistic vision and snippets and more.

64 WINTER 2018 Above: Photo by Charis Loke in Penang


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Smallworks Press LLC specializes in arts and culture publications. We treat each book with a commitment to impeccable production, design and
marketing. With over forty years of collective experiences, we have enjoyed collaborating with a wide-spectrum of artists, authors and talent.
Kerry James
Marshall
The Key Figure
Interview by David Molesky Portrait by Joey Garfield

66 WINTER 2018
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 67
68 WINTER 2018 Above: Untitled (Male Painter), Acrylic on PVC panel, 61.25” x 72.75”, 2008, Collection of the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum
I
n 2016, the Kerry James Marshall
retrospective, Mastry, traveled from the
Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago
(MCA) to the Met Breuer. Standing behind
the clear plexiglass podium, about to address
the press, Kerry took a deep breath, looked down,
noticed his descended zipper, corrected it, and
then delivered his wonderfully disarming chuckle,
effectively deepening the awe of the already
starstruck audience. The exhibition fulfilled his
biggest dreams, he explained, his work now in the
Met alongside his own selections of great historical
artworks from the museum’s permanent collection.

The first room of the retrospective was


breathtaking, with nearly a dozen unstretched
canvases as large as 10 x 18 feet, painted with thick
unblended passages, fixed to the wall by rivets.
These masterworks of narrative compositions
are astutely conscious of flatness, illusion, and
draftsmanship, with dynamic brushwork and colors
that freely incorporate comics and pop culture
as much as they sample the grand tradition. The
retrospective presented his entire oeuvre, including
portraits, lightboxes, sculptures, photography, and
comics called Dailies.

Perhaps even more inspiring is how Kerry’s life


path has provided the key ingredients for his
ever-expanding creative universe. Born in 1955,
Kerry moved with his family a decade later from
Birmingham, Alabama to Watts in Los Angeles.
During an era of rising racial tension, they moved a
few years later to a housing project called Nicholson
Gardens, just before the historic Watts riots.

Kerry knew early on that he wanted to be an artist and


was selected from his Junior High School to attend
advanced courses in drawing at what was then known
as Otis Art Institute. While drawing a master copy of
Otis instructor Charles White’s lithograph of Frederick
Douglass, he had a realization about the insularity of
white figures representing ideal beauty throughout
art history. He’d go to museums to observe masterful
technique, but his appreciation was hampered
because of the dearth of black subjects who seemed In his late twenties, Kerry took a residency at the an artistic director for a feature film. The salary
excluded from the whole genre. Studio Museum in Harlem, the only museum afforded him almost a year of living expenses,
in the US funded and operated by African spurring a significant body of work, and his
At first, Kerry considered a career in children’s Americans. In what was literally love at first momentum continues unflagged to this day.
book illustration and also dabbled, like many of his sight, he would eventually marry the first person In 1998, he had his first major solo show at the
peers, in abstract pictures. The Invisible Man, Ralph he met upon his arrival, the actress Cheryl Lynn Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
Ellison’s novel about a black man whose skin color Bruce, the museum’s PR representative at the Now, Kerry’s work is featured in an incredible roster
renders him marginalized, inspired Kerry to make time. Working and living in a 6 x 9-foot room at of important museum collections, and he has been
his painting Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his the Harlem YMCA that was once home to Malcolm awarded an even longer list of residencies, grants,
Former Self. This seminal painting re-energized the X, Kerry solidified a determination to continue fellowships, and honorary degrees.
use of the figure as his vehicle to bring politics and his work, regardless of what situation or space
race into focus. The painting became emblematic was available to him. This past autumn, I called Kerry at his studio on the
of a lifelong artistic goal to fill the gaps of history, South Side of Chicago, and we talked about getting
where black historical figures and black cultural In 1987, Kerry, focused and unwavering, moved to work after the retrospective, and the exciting
ideas did not have representation. to Chicago and got a break when he was hired as continuous evolution of his comic strip.

Above: Black Owned, Acrylic and neon on PVC panel, 60.3” x 72.1” x 3.6”, 2012. Private Collection KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 69
David Molesky: You must be excited to get back to
studio life after the tour of Mastry.
Kerry James Marshall: The whole experience was
satisfying, but I couldn't wait until it was finished,
so I could get back to a normal routine. The problem
with big surveys is that it puts you in a position
where you have to start to figure out what your next
act is going to be.

Especially when you've achieved so much, the bar


gets raised again.
Right. It's a challenge to exceed yourself. Every
time I do a picture, I'm trying to do a better or more
complex picture from my last. I try to push the
limits of my abilities. With retrospectives, you make
assessments of what you've done over time. You can
see it all in front of you. You know more about what
you're trying to get at and how to make it happen.
And it's hard to look at things you've done 30 years
ago and not think, "Oh, if I knew then what I know
now, maybe I would've done this a little differently."

As a painter myself, sometimes it seems the more


I paint, the harder it gets. I have to account for
more perspectives while I’m working. You ever
feel that way?
Yeah, but you know what? That's the way it's
supposed to be. It's supposed to get harder, and
that's not really a problem. You're supposed to be
more sophisticated and much more self-conscious.
As you know more, you have to consider more.
It gets harder to make the next thing, because you
have to have a good reason to do it.

How do you think new digital and virtual mediums


will affect the future evolution of figuration?
Figuration is coming back. It’s the foundation, but
the reality was that it never went anywhere. There
were periods where abstraction seemed more
advanced. The issue is that it's not whether a thing
is painting, photography, sculpture, installation,
abstract, or representational. That's not really where
the critical value of a thing lies. It actually has more
to do with the particular treatment of each one of
those different media.

The popularity of cheap instant cameras didn't


increase the number of excellent images any more
than going abstract made people better artists.
When there is proliferation, it’s another case where
it becomes more difficult, and you have to take
responsibility to marshall all the philosophical ideas,
critical conceptions, and technical characteristics.
You have to figure out a way to maximize their
generated effect. This is how proliferation makes it
harder to do things that are worthwhile.

It seems with greater knowledge comes greater


responsibility.
If you're not going to surrender to chance, then
you're going to target your efforts at achieving a
very specific thing. That's how you keep it going.
You're trying to get at something specific, you're not
just waiting for any old kind of thing to happen,

70 WINTER 2018 Above top: Untitled (Painter), Acrylic on PVC panel, 72.9” x 61.1” x 3.9”, 2009. Collection of the Yale University Art Gallery
Above bottom: They Know That I Know, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 72” x 72”, 1992. Private Collection
Above: Untitled (Club Couple), Acrylic on PVC panel, 59.6” x 59.6”, 2014. Private collection KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 71
or hoping that something you did was interesting
enough, you're really trying to make it that way. “It’s a complete miscomprehension to
When you were teaching, you’d tell students, "You
have to ask why, to ask why always." What were
believe that you don’t need to do the same
some of the important “whys” you asked yourself,
and what do you think are some of the important
things that Rembrandt was doing.”
questions that younger artists should be asking
themselves now? resolved, and then you can make an attempt at catastrophes: the spike in violence in Chicago in the
People are not driven to make artwork because trying to resolve those things. ’90s, and the demolition of high-rise public housing
of some of internal emotional need. I believe near where I live on the South Side of Chicago. There
it's always because you want to participate in I came across an article in Scientific American about were moving people out and tearing down public
something that you see other people doing. When Fermat's Last Theorem. He was a 17th century housing. It was controversial and complicated in how
you look at the history of how what you want to do mathematician who proposed a paradox that it was handled. I want the narrative around these
has evolved, you have to ask: "Can I add anything couldn’t be resolved for over 350 years. About 20 events to take on Homeric epic structure and form.
to it?" Or will I be satisfied just mimicking what has years ago, it was proven by a man who, at 10 years I realized how this could have the same cultural
already been done? old, became determined to solve it. So there are these impact as Star Wars, which initially was going to
novel ideas that pose a challenge, and somebody's got be five episodes, but now seems to be going on in
In the ’70s, there was this notion that painting was to check if it's worthwhile. You can do that in the art perpetuity. The narrative allowed me to talk about
completely obsolete. Would it be worth my effort world, too. the social consequence of high-rise housing and
to carry on a practice that people are claiming has its demolition, as well as the consequences of gang
already been exhausted? You have to ask yourself Contemporary history painting can shed new violence in relationship to public housing projects
that in the face of what is going on around you. No light on events by prompting a unique space and and the surrounding neighborhood. It also gave me a
matter what the technology or activity is, nothing time for contemplation. How have current and chance to talk about the conflicts between tradition
has ever been completely exhausted. You can recent events made their way into your work? and modernity. The public high-rises on 35th Street
look around for those places that never got fully The idea for Rhythm Mastr began with two recent were right across the street from a Mies Van Der

72 WINTER 2018 Above: Souvenir 1, Acrylic, collage, and glitter on unstretched canvas, 156” x 108”, 1997. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Rohe-designed campus for the Illinois Institution
of Technology (IIT). The street literally divided two
completely different worlds.

I have a character from the neighborhood in a


program learning robotics at IIT, alongside a
young man who lives in the projects. Also in this
neighborhood is a brownstone building called
the Ancient Egyptian Museum. This museum
promotes the idea of Afrocentrism, where black
people become healthy and gang violence stops
when black people can revive who they were
before they were enslaved people. To do that, you
center your worldview around Africa and center
creative capacities around the achievements of the
Egyptians. In the narrative, the robotics student
is the girlfriend of the kid who meets the Rhythm
Man who teaches him drum patterns to unlock the
power of African figure sculptures. They are both
trying to solve the gang war problem. They don't
realize that they're in conflict with each other: one
using robotic technology, the other using African
mystic power.

What is your vision for the development of the


graphic novel?
For me, it needs to be something that operates like The
Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or the Harry Potter cycles.
You need to be able to get that much out of it. It needs
to demonstrate that you can generate these narratives
that can go on for generations. Its initial inception was
for the Carnegie International, but it really started to
take shape when I did a show at the MCA (Museum of
Contemporary Art in Chicago) where it became a daily
comic strip called Dailies. I began building a series of
comics around the Rhythm Mastr. Each component of
the overall narrative allowed me to talk about things
through barbershop-style conversations about history,
culture, and politics.

There was one thread that started out as Ho Stroll.


With a lot of prostitution and streetwalkers in the
neighborhood, I had to give these working people a
chance to contribute their inner philosophical life
through conversation. So it really contains three
narratives: the Rhythm Mastr, P-Van, and Ho Stroll,
which has now become On the Stroll. I was going to
build up enough narratives to fill a full-size page of
the Chicago Tribune with black-oriented comics.

These separate narratives overlap and become the


larger Rhythm Mastr story, with everything taking
place in the same neighborhood. The Rhythm Mastr
kids would pass the P-Van, they’d see the prostitutes
on the street, they’d go by the Ancient Egyptian
Museum, they’d be at IIT, and they would be at the What is the overarching plot for the screenplay? skillsets. I don't know of a good film that didn't
projects. All of it gets woven together. The theme is really the conflict between tradition start out with the production designer making
and modernity. In a drive towards the future, can drawings of the sets. That’s the same skillset
I'm still working on it. After the Mastry show closed, an orientation to the past win? needed for narrative paintings. It's a complete
this was supposed to be the year that I would miscomprehension to believe that you don't need
resolve the graphic novel form. In this process, I'm It's possible to use values from our past that will to do the same things that Rembrandt was doing.
always making new factions of those stories and I'm remain important to our species in the future. You have to think about how the lighting works. You
actually in the middle of working on new Dailies Yeah. This is something that people miss when have to conceive, construct, and refine the narrative.
right now. talking about painting and all of its accompanying Look at all those paintings; there's virtually no

Above: Woman with Death on her Mind (detail), Acrylic and collage on book cover, 5” x 7”, 1990. Private Collection KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 73
74 WINTER 2018 Above: Portrait of the Artist & a Vacuum, Acrylic on paper, 52.4” x 62.5”, 1981. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
Above: De Style, Acrylic and collage on unstretched canvas, 122” x 104”, 1993. Collection of the Los Angeles Museum of Art KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 75
difference between the setup for Gericault's Raft of the Chuck Jones documentaries. I'm really interested all kinds of things to draw from, including downtown.
the Medusa or a movie scene. You get actors posed in technique. I did production design for a couple of It gets more exciting as it comes together. It propels
in costumes with props, then find a location and feature films, so I know a little bit about how films are me to keep going, because I can see it being fulfilled.
organize it so that it conveys your ideas. I've never made and how animation is done, so I'm ready for it. When you're in it, there's nothing but hard work.
seen a movie that didn't do that. There's nothing but labor. And it's almost all physical.
Any idea when folks might start hearing about the
When Rhythm Mastr becomes a movie, do you graphic novel coming out, or the animation? Any concluding advice for younger artists?
think it'll be animated or do you think you'll use By this time next year, I hope to have the graphic novel There are some things that you can't even imagine
real figures? ready for publication. This project first came into unless you already believe you have the capability
Ideally, it has to be animated first. You have a lot existence in 1999. It takes a long time. If you're really of making it happen. As you know more and have
more latitude that way. going to do it right, you really have to come to terms more skills, you can do more and imagine more
with the amount of detail that has to be invested in things. That seems fundamental. I encourage people
Have you done animation before? everything. When I started developing characters to do everything and take nothing for granted.
I've done some animation and video that uses for the comic strip, I designed clothes with my then There are no shortcuts.
animation. When I was in high school, I participated assistant who was also a fashion designer. This was
in a program at Otis called "Tutor Art," which just one part of building the archive and style that Kerry James Marshall’s work will be featured in
included hand-drawn animation. I learned how to do would ultimately be the graphic novel. In my studio, Figuring History alongside Robert Colescott and
animation to a soundtrack. I also have every book on I use set pieces to development the narrative. You have Mickalene Thomas at the Seattle Art Museum from
animation you can find. I watch all the Disney and to invent practically every detail, so I have models of February 15–May 13, 2018.

76 WINTER 2018 Above: Could This Be Love, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 114” x 103”, 1992. The Bailey Collection, Canada
Above: Still-Life with Wedding Portrait, Acrylic on PVC panel, 48” x 60”, 2015. Private Collection KERRY JAMES MARSHALL JUXTAPOZ .COM 77
Anja
Salonen
The Indolent Gaze
Interview by Kristin Farr Portrait by David Broach

78 WINTER 2018
ANJA SALONEN JUXTAPOZ .COM 79
80 WINTER 2018 Above: Cornflake Crusade, Oil on canvas, 60 x 72”, 2016
T
he figurative painting has long been
a compulsion of artists, and only the
remarkable make headway in the
game. Anja Salonen is deep into the
uncanny, concocting color and mood to present
an alternate reality, a dimension similar to ours,
but not quite right. The aesthetic notion of the
uncanny valley describes the uncomfortable
reaction humans experience when faced with a
clone-like being. The global merger of the real
and virtual has forced an increasingly blurred
line between the two, and the prevalent, dubious
honesty of the contemporary gaze is challenged
in Salonen’s work.

Eerie, exceptional, astounding, creepy and


mystifying are descriptors akin to uncanny, and
could also describe these paintings of a world that
oddly reflects the one we know. Salonen’s practice
explores what it means to be alive today and the way
paint relates to the body. She responds to the slump
of our current situation of glaring into screens as the
world implodes. Through painting, she emphasizes
this era—the evolution of physicality, emotion, and
our new defense mechanisms, and she does so with a
remarkable vision.

Kristin Farr: Who are the people you are painting


and what are they most often experiencing?
Anja Salonen: Most of the figures that I develop begin
with a reference to my own body. I photograph my
friends posing for me whenever they are willing,
but the work is largely based off of photographs that
I take of myself enacting the poses that I envision for
the paintings. The figures appear to be experiencing
boredom, malaise, disturbance… the gaze often
meeting the viewer’s, or idly detached, mouth
slightly gaping. I want the figures to hold weight
and appear despondent.

What makes successful figurative painting in


your mind?
I can’t really isolate what makes a successful
figurative painting because I’m attracted to
such a wide range of stylistic and conceptual
choices, but I think that paintings that are
pushing the boundaries of body constructs and
representation, and different ways of talking
about the body in space are the most interesting
to me right now. an alternate space and reality or dimension. To response in the viewer. I think a lot about
me, it sometimes feels more like I’m exposing a dimensions, alternate realities, the subjectivity of
Some forever favorite painters of mine are world than creating one. I’m really interested in objects, illusion, delusion. So, yeah, I would kind
Pontormo, Manet, Helene Schjerfbeck… More Masahiro Mori’s concept of the “uncanny valley,” of like nothing more than for my own body to
contemporary painters that I really connect with in which he hypothesized what humanity’s enter that reality.
are Tala Madani, Jordan Kasey, Tschabalala Self, reaction would be to robots that look almost like
Robin Francesca Williams, Ambera Wellman, people, but not quite—on the border of empathy What do you like most about exploring the body?
Sascha Braunig, Cheyenne Julien, Anders Oinonen… and revulsion, closeness and othering. He wrote The body as subject matter has always been central
the list goes on. about a relationship between the resemblance to my work for a lot of reasons. It is a point of
of an object to a human and the emotional access, a collective experience, a political ground.
How would you feel if you ended up at dinner response that the object elicits. My paintings I’m interested in the physicality and complexity
with the people you paint? are objects, flat planes, that hold the illusion of the body as an expressive tool, and in using
Probably pretty frightened, but it’s also kind of of a somatic reality, and that reality’s location the representation of bodies as an entry point for
all I want. I want my figures to be rendered to the on the spectrum of familiarity and alienation discussing representation and images in general.
point of believability, but for the belief to be in also potentially affects the elicited emotional I’m also interested in the body as a site and source

Above top: Plasticity, Oil on canvas, 60” x 40”, 2017 Above bottom: Elasticity, Oil on canvas, 60” x 40”, 2017 ANJA SALONEN JUXTAPOZ .COM 81
of trauma, the complex relationship between the of flesh, light, and color, and I often feel like I’m You’ve used oil paint since you were a kid. How
interior and the exterior, and the body’s role in sculpting much more than drawing while I paint. did your training affect what you’re doing now?
forming self-image, the grotesqueness as well as the The paint on the canvas is also a direct record of I totally fell in love with oil paint as a material
beauty and vulnerability, and the identity politics a motion extended from my body, but the paint at a young age, and feel like I have a very deep
that are tied to each specific body. seems to have its own momentum. I feel like I’m relationship with it. I learned how to paint
working with paint’s natural behavior rather than primarily from life, and studied my own face
How do you relate the physicality of paint to the controlling it, and manipulating it to look a certain a lot as a way to practice. I think a part of this
body? way, but I’m constantly amazed by paint’s own relationship to self-portraiture is a means of
Oil paint is a pretty mystical practice to me. Like, generative ability. I feel like I’m in a dialogue with trying to understand or connect to my physical
absolutely alchemical, using oils and pigments my materials as I work. I’m sculpting a world, while body, understanding the boundaries of my
from the earth to create a flat illusion of that same the paint and the brushes behave in their own ways specific identity. I’ve fluctuated through different
earth… Oil paint, for me, contains this similar as objects, and every new brushstroke I make is a painting styles over the years and departed
uncanny sense of being of the body, but not quite. decision based off of an internal process that is as from my classical training for a more gestural,
Its smoothness and viscosity has the power to equally based in my concept for the piece as it is in surreal style for a while. Recently, I’ve been
express some really specific and esoteric behaviors learning from the materials. kind of merging the two, rendering these more

82 WINTER 2018 Left: It thrives on grass, Oil on canvas, 56” x 100”, 2016 Top right: Big year for redheads and Make a beauty wish (installation view), Oil and gesso on plywood, 2016
Bottom right: Forty-seven ways to look pretty, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72” x 84”, 2016
fantastical and colorful scenes in a tighter, How is living in LA influencing your work in some way… The colors, the haze, the natural
three-dimensional way to create the illusion of a right now? environment, desert flora, the beach, the strip malls,
complete alternate world. I started working in the color pallette I use now the weird hidden magic things. LA space is also
when I moved into my first studio in LA in the so deeply strange… so broad and vast, sprawling.
Are you trying to capture how we feel inside or Ocean, mountains, big sky…
how we feel we are perceived by others?
I guess both. I’m really interested in depicting how
it feels, psychologically and somatically, to be alive
“I learned how How do you describe your personal aesthetic and
does it match your paintings?
right now, and that applies both to the ways we feel
about ourselves and about others.
to paint primarily The way I design my surroundings and personal
aesthetic is really tied to creating a color

Do your paintings take the lead when it comes to


from life, and composition. I wear and surround myself with color
combinations that I like, treat my outfits in a similar
composition? Do you start with a sketch?
I’ll usually start with an idea, gather source studied my own face way, and even my meals.

material for it, do a rough compositional sketch,


and then work on the canvas. The composition a lot as a way to What feelings are you most often trying to project
into the work and onto your audience?
sort of naturally creates itself as I lay out the
components of the painting, and the initial idea practice.” Despondency, illness, humor, beauty, disgust,
attraction, familiarity, alienation, weightlessness,
changes a lot with each step of the process. heaviness—a lot of contradictions.
I often work in larger series of paintings, creating
a cohesive body of work that contains its own fashion district, down the street from Santee What do you want to add to the dialogue about
composition and direction of ideas. I like making Alley. The streets are completely overflowing with the body and corporeality?
specific work for each show I do because I want the neons and plastic and furs and fake plants. The A new aspect of corporeality that figurative
paintings to work as one larger piece. LA light must be interesting to every painter here painters are navigating right now is how the

Above top: An Extreme Form of Togetherness, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 96” x 60”, 2016 ANJA SALONEN JUXTAPOZ .COM 83
84 WINTER 2018 Above: Party of One, Oil on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2017
three-dimensional body interacts with digital painted with illusionistic three-dimensional Who have been your best non-traditional teachers
space and flat images. Digital space is a new images. The paintings show malaise in its tangible in life and art and what has been their most
landscape, with its own illusion of constructs and mediated forms—an essentially three- memorable advice?
of gravity, layering, light and shadows. This has dimensional, palpable body processed as a flat My fourth-grade creative writing teacher who
sort of changed the perspective direction of a lot image, reaching a final form of dimension in real taught me about existentialism, a painter I took
of post-analog painting, because whereas before, space. In the work, reality is mutable, shadows cast lessons from when I lived in London in high
figurative painting functioned as a “window,” a by fluorescent lights on the three-dimensional school who taught me about loving, sensitive
recessive space with the illusion of depth, now objects melting into painted illusions. There is no portraiture. My first piano teacher, my sculpture
there is a push towards illusionistic projection truth, the flat and the illusory and the dimensional, professor at RISD who believed in magic, many
and forward movement. Artists are calling projections and contractions, fluidly moving in of my dearest friends. My mom. It’s hard to
attention to not only the surface of the painting, and out of one another and through space without pinpoint exact statements of advice, but I think the
but the space in front of it, and I think this idea hierarchy. The limitations of self-image during common thread of my most meaningful learning
of projection is directly tied to the spatial shift of the apocalypse—at what point of distortion the experiences have been in finding an honest
the virtual. self becomes something else—and what tells you connection with someone who sees something
something is wrong. about the world that I do.
What are you painting now and what’s coming up
next for shows? What are you doing tonight? Anja Salonen’s solo show at ltd Los Angeles is on view
My solo show opened in November at ltd Los I’m going out to the desert to see my dear friend’s through December, 2017.
Angeles. It’s called New Dimensions in Recreation. noise performance and stay in a house in Fontana,
The body of work I’ve made for this show consists and go to Andrea Zittel’s High Desert Test Site in anjasalonen.com
of three-dimensional wooden panel structures Joshua Tree.

Above: The Long-Lasting Intimacy of Strangers, Oil on canvas, 96” x 72”, 2016 ANJA SALONEN JUXTAPOZ .COM 85
86 WINTER 2018
Artists Remember
Greg Escalante

GREG ESCAL ANTE JUXTAPOZ .COM 87


I hope it is true that a man can die, and yet not only live Robert Williams: Greg Escalante was the equivalent like there was a class system, and I was on the
in others, but give them life, and not only life, but that of Guillaume Apollinaire, in his time, as a supporter bottom rung. Greg's galleries and the shows he
great consciousness of life. —Jack Kerouac and a pioneer. He came in on the alternative curated were so very inclusive, and the exact
movement when he was still a baby and was very opposite of snobbish.
As the cycle of time swirls in an endless continuum, instrumental with the beginning of Juxtapoz as a co-
every so often the gods conspire to pluck another founder. A lot of people are going to feel the vacuum Joe Coleman: I met a tall, lanky cartoon surfer in
hero from our midst, signifying the end of an era. of his absence. a suave suit. He talked like a nervous carnival
The recent unexpected passing of Juxtapoz co- pitchman espousing an art construct that was anti-
founder Greg Escalante left a deep void within the Mike Shine: Greg opened up the world of art for minimalist, anti-conceptualist and anti-Dadaist.
extended community of artists whom he so tirelessly many of us with the creation of Juxtapoz. His I immediately took a liking to this whirling dervish
fostered. It is impossible to quantify the scope of his passion and endless drive to keep opening that of psychedelic reverence. I heard that he was a
influence. There was no bigger cheerleader for art world further was very inspiring. Like many of the former bond trader, but to me he was a bonder of
and artists. art orphans Greg left behind, we all will need to step artists, collectors, gallerists, philosophers and all
up and try our damndest to keep his mission of art creators that were, for many years, on the margins
I first met Greg at the Robert Berman Gallery in for all going strong. of what was acceptable to the contemporary art
1990, when he purchased the first painting I ever world. Now that he’s gone, there is a negative
sold at an exhibition. We became good friends Craig Stecyk: “Yes, my friend,” was his perpetual space…an empty quiet left in the absence of such
over the years, and he remained my principal refrain. It was an expression of passionate vision. The a resonant force.
guiding force for the rest of his life, always at the surrogate self in the Joe Copro disguise never wanted
ready to offer positive advice and unwavering credit for his boundless good deeds and innovations. Mark Ryden: I seriously can’t remember one of my
encouragement. He was equally instrumental in By standing out, he blended into the social narrative. art shows where he was not there, always wearing
the careers of a plethora of other artists whom he Moving forward ever, backward never. Genius goes an appropriately themed, fabulous outfit. Greg
consistently championed. where it wants, and there is no chance in it, and even got involved with things like this simply because
less choice. The invariable fact of Gregorio Conrad he was excited to make interesting things happen
I asked a number of them to contribute their Escalante’s tenure was that he was always ahead of in the art world. He loved making connections
thoughts to help create a portrait of a remarkable the curve. In the end, life gets away from us all. Once between people. And he did this without any
pioneer who meant so much to so many. Here are again, Greg has gotten somewhere first. ulterior motives. He was not interested in getting
the excerpts from recollections of some of the anything for himself, like money, or his own glory.
creative souls he touched before shuffling off this Laurie Hassold: Greg helped author an art scene He did it for the pure love of art. That is a pretty
mortal coil. —Gregg Gibbs that provided young talent with a respite from rare thing.
the snobbish bourgeois stronghold of acceptable
"high art." As a grad student, I always felt a bit Frank Kozik: Greg was an integral part of the
snubbed when visiting galleries and museums, Lowbrow scene and was immediately supportive
and enthusiastic. His support and interest helped
hundreds (thousands?) of artists and other creative
types’ careers blossom. Everyone he ever interacted
with benefited, and he never took—he just gave.
I would honestly say that he and his circle created
an entire genre of art.

F. Scott Hess: A couple of days after he died, I was


trying to think of anyone else I’d ever known
in the art world who was so energetic, engaged,
and generous. There is no one. He seemed to be
everywhere at once, getting to every opening,
event and party. If he found your artwork to be
of value, he worked to help you get it shown. The
sheer number of artists whose lives he has touched
is astronomical. I’ve always thought of him as the
“Guru of Lowbrow.” Where would that movement be
without him?

Shepard Fairey: I feel really indebted to Greg for his


support on many fronts, and I’m going to miss him.
He was a great guy, and right up until he died, he
was dropping gifts off and offering me walls where
I could do murals. I won’t be doing as many cool
things without him around, and the entire art scene
will be missing somebody who facilitated so many
good projects that we all benefit from.

Nathan Spoor: Greg was actually the one great


binding agent that made this Los Angeles art scene
interesting. He was a tireless proponent for the arts,

88 WINTER 2018 Art by: Robert Williams


“I want to do art shows in a Niagara: Graham Greene once said that what
lengthens a person's life is travel. What lengthened
Greg's life was his friends.

museum that should never be Long Gone John: There are many reasons why
he was loved… number one being he was a

there. You should never have kind, generous man and seemingly a happy and
contented soul… that will be echoed in every
single tribute you read here and will never be up

black velvet in a museum.” for debate. I had an immense affection for Greg and
he will be greatly missed by every fortunate soul
who ever crossed his path.

–Greg Escalante Bob Dob: He loved helping artists. If you were


standing around at a show he would always
come by and say hello and then find someone of
with non-stop enthusiasm for artists, and fun ideas enthusiasm seemed genuine and sincere. From importance for you to meet who could possibly
that fed into the art scene that he loved and helped what I could tell, he had his fingers in all sorts of further your career. Greg promoted that art can be
to nurture. projects around the West Coast. Though Lowbrow strong conceptually and be well crafted.
is the genre often associated with him, his personal
Eric White: He was a kind and generous person collection was much more diverse. Van Arno: Greg realized that art should be
with a keen eye and unique perspective, and was visually exciting and not an exercise in academic
highly supportive of artists who would have had John Swihart: He was so well-connected and deconstruction of deconstruction. Talking to him
a hard time breaking into the orthodox art world. I always joked that Greg had a magic lantern he made me appreciate his breadth of knowledge
It’s so hard to believe he's gone and that I can’t just would rub and the magic would always happen. and his accessible spirit and passion. He fought a
reach out to him right now. His presence will be Whenever he would call, I would wonder what fun multi-front battle to make art fun as an engrossing
felt for a long time, and his contributions will have and wonderful ride he was about to take me on. He experience. When you go to an art opening and see
a lasting impact. would sometimes drop by for a visit full of amazing young people on a date, he was a big part of making
stories of his newest synergistic adventures. After that happen.
Luke Chueh: His desire to help artists was on a he would leave, the house would be buzzing with
level I don't often encounter. Most people will help his positive energy for hours. Bad Otis Link: He told me about imaging and
as long as they get something out of it, but Greg's creating a future that was better and more

Art by (from left): Mark Ryden, Shepard Fairey GREG ESCAL ANTE JUXTAPOZ .COM 89
90 WINTER 2018 Art by (clockwise from top): Shag, Chet Zar, Elizabeth McGrath, Natalia Fabia
stimulating than the past. Greg Escalante was my
friend. He was real, generous and shared his world
with all of us. I respect everything about him.

Natalia Fabia: One of the things that comes to


mind was his ability to put people together that was
so selfless; connecting artists with galleries and
collectors and other artists in such positive ways.
He was this tall, goofy lighting rod for all of us.

Robbie Conal: The world needs enthusiasts. Greg


Escalante was a world-class enthusiast. When
Greg liked something, he loved it! We can all be
grateful that he acted on his love of street art and
understood its cultural significance. He was a truly
generous soul.

Chet Zar: He loved to connect artists as much as


he loved collecting art. Greg was not into the art
scene to make money. He did it purely for the love.
There is really no other person like him in the art
community and his absence will leave a huge hole
in the center of all of our hearts.

Marnie Weber: He really wanted the artists to be


happy. Whenever I would see Greg, he was always
the same—funny, friendly, and super interested
in what I was doing. He later was instrumental in
having me appear in Juxtapoz. He actually seemed
as thrilled about me being in the magazine as I was.

Elizabeth McGrath: He would call me at all hours.


He obsessively had to complete the big picture.
He fearlessly fostered an environment that forced
people to crack out of their shells and that birthed
a lot of this movement.

Shag: Greg bought more art than anyone I know—


which is probably the best way to support an artist.
He also was one of the funniest people I know. At
one point, he carried around a giant fake finger in
his car. If somebody flipped him off while driving,
he would slip the giant finger over his middle finger,
and make a grand, overly dramatic unveiling of his
enormous bird.

Dosshaus: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of


other artists who will nod in agreement when we
say, “We owe it all to Greg Escalante.” And, like us,
they’ll mean every word of it. His incredible legacy
is in the art he fostered, his generosity of spirit,
and in the fact that he gave so freely of his time
and influence to help spotlight the art and artists
he loved. He took a genuine, almost paternal joy in
the art community around him, a community he have all been lucky to grow within. It’s become bigger example. After I’d managed to stay upright and dry
largely cultivated. than life today. I owe everything to Greg and his for an hour or so, he paddled over to a pier and took
constant support. And I can say that is the case for stills and a video of my fully dressed adventure. It
Lola Gil: He had an ease about him, and I very most artists I know. was so fun I will probably spend the rest of my life
genuinely loved to hear about his experiences and paddle boarding, imagining him up ahead, guiding
fascinating stories. We all can only strive to be like Moira Hahn: Earlier this year, Greg invited me to me, with perfect form.
him; he was born with a rare and truly selfless gene go paddle boarding. I wasn’t dressed for it, but that
that is untouchable. He’s an important figure who made it even more goal-worthy not to fall in. Greg’s Michael Knowlton: I loved going out with him to art
birthed, moved, and nurtured this little art world we instructions were super brief, so I just followed his events. He was always so selfless. He would grab

Art by: Marnie Weber GREG ESCAL ANTE JUXTAPOZ .COM 91


a person and walk them across the room through L. Croskey: I will forever be grateful to Greg Escalante Nicola Verlato: I think Greg was one of those people
the crowd and introduce them to the perfect for believing in me, my eye, and my curatorial skills. who had a very clear mind that life without the
curator, surf shop owner, or like-minded artist that His support and guidance have been integral in my presence of art is just miserable, but also that art
would be a genius coupling. He would make the life and getting me to where I am today. without any reference to real life is absolutely
introductions with a quick one-sentence description worthless. The two terms have to meet in the work

“Yes, my
of each person and leave the two to talk. He knew itself. Art has to become something important for
the alchemy of people as well as he knew art and everybody and life has to be open for art to blossom
business, so the introductions were always inspired. everywhere possible.
Doing this all the time made him an art world
Johnny Appleseed. Jeff Gillette: I feel deeply indebted to Greg Escalante

friend...”
for pretty much starting my art career. The first
Anthony Ausgang: Greg was incredibly enamored time I “met” Greg, he had scheduled a studio visit,
of artists, and I really think he preferred to spend but I became unavailable at the last minute. So
more time with them than the people buying I asked a friend, who was also named Jeff, to pretend
the work. Some gallerists are like that; their to be me, and lo and behold, Greg offered “me” my
amazement and respect for artists comes before –Greg Escalante first LA solo show. Later, when we really met, he was
sales. It’s a rare thing. surprised to find out that I was the real artist, not
the person he had talked to before.
Gary Baseman: He seemed to be everywhere, at Marion Peck: I wanted to work with him because
every gathering and gallery opening. He was such I liked the way he was excited about making Todd and Kathy Schorr: Before Juxtapoz and the
a face in the LA art scene for so long. He was at culture happen. He was very unselfish and genuine. internet would turn a fledgling art movement
the forefront of legitimizing a particular kind of I admired his energy. I liked talking about art with into what would become a global phenomenon
painting that didn’t go through the traditional art him… he was funny, not full of it, the way so many known as Lowbrow, there was Greg and a
school-gallery-museum circuit. people are when they talk about art. handful of other aficionados who would become
the movement’s first ardent supporters and
patrons. He was always an active participant
on the scene in those early days, leading all the
way up until the present. He was always at our
shows throughout the years, and never lost his
enthusiasm for the artists he admired, which was
an eclectic group, to say the least.

Jorge Gutierrez: I joked with him that he was my


art world “papa,” and I can still hear his inimitable
laugh. I loved pitching him painting ideas like they
were movies. He would always nod; no idea was
ever too crazy or subversive enough. I would get
the most profound or sweetest or raunchiest texts
at the craziest of times. In my mind, he never slept.
The thing I will remember the most about him is the
way he brought people of all kinds together with art.
And it made him giddy. We should all be so lucky to
live a life like his.

Ron English: Sadly, the true depth of a soul's impact


on the world is only realized by the expanse of
the void they leave behind. I was well aware of the
warmth and wit of his company and the optimistic
nature of his existence. What I did not fully realize
in his lifetime is that I was not the sole beneficiary
of his generosity and beautiful spirit. Of course,
I was not unaware of his impact on others and
on the scene that was ours, but I truly had little
concept of how large his spirit loomed. He was
truly the heart and soul of our community. There
will never be another.

Suzanne Williams: He was the most tireless


champion of artists and he actually couldn’t help
himself from helping others. He spent all of his time
hooking them up with something and took pleasure
in that. He was so tireless, he just wore himself out,
and now he gets to sleep.

92 WINTER 2018 Art by: Marion Peck


Art by (clockwise from top left): Nicola Verlato, Todd Schorr, Jeff Gillette GREG ESCAL ANTE JUXTAPOZ .COM 93
Smithe
Learning and
Loving Life
Interview & portrait by Alex Nicholson

94 WINTER 2018
SMITHE JUXTAPOZ .COM 95
A
t one point during my conversation as mission control for anything and everything. and pencils to draw geometric figures, blueprints
with Smithe, he insisted that he Clothing for Tony Delfino, the brand he started or objects with their different perspectives. I really
doesn’t like to give advice because with Jesus Benitez in 2008, fills a back room where enjoyed that and still use several things that
he isn’t good at it, only to follow the it is packaged and shipped to those not able to I learned from it in my drawings.
declaration with some good, practical counsel visit the nearby storefront. In the main office,
of his own. “It is always better to do than to overlooking the street below, employees are busy Are there other books, magazines, or movies that
speak.” As the day went on, I understood these creating animations, illustrations, and branding had a big impact?
are words he clearly lives by. Between a design for commercial clients or planning exhibitions at Everything in general! I am very graphic and
studio, clothing brand, gallery, playing in a band TOBA Gallery, the space adjacent to Tony Delfino. I like to see all the details in images, from Manga to
and touring the world painting murals and Smithe used to paint in the same space, but recently mechanical books. One that had a big influence was
participating in exhibitions, Smithe is always doing decided to rent a separate studio, a few blocks away, an encyclopedia that my dad collected in the ‘80s
something. His response also illustrates the light where he is hoping, once the businesses become called Salvat Automobile Encyclopedia. It was
hearted, humble attitude with which he reacts to more self-sufficient, to devote more time to his my favorite when I was a child.
accomplishments and interacts with friends, fans, paintings and personal work.
and collaborators. At your recommendation, I visited the
Alex Nicholson: What are the earliest things you magnificent murals at Palacio de Bellas down the
Smithe lives, works, and paints in the historic remember creating? street from your studio. Who is your favorite of
center of Mexico City. Still fairly affordable, but Smithe: The first things that I started drawing were the Mexican muralists?
quickly changing, Centro Historico is a hectic, replicas of Dragon Ball Z. When I was 11 or 12 years Jorge González Camarena is my favorite. Both his
bustling commotion of working people and crowds old, there was a boom of the anime in Mexico and technique, as well as the color palette and topics are
of tourists that, at times, rivals a busy Times I was drawn to the characters. Then, in school, we awesome, very advanced for the year in which he
Square. The Copete Cohete office, a design studio had this class called Technical Drawing, which was making them.
where he partners with the artist Pogo, serves basically taught you how to use rulers, squares,
You told me your parents were always supportive,
finding you things to draw with, even if they were
simple. How important was that encouragement?
Yes, my parents were always very supportive,
even in my graffiti stage. I got into trouble quite
easily and they still helped me so I could do
whatever I wanted.

When did you decide that you wanted to try and


make a living as an artist?
I think it was when I obtained my first design
job. It was for a Mexican skateboard brand called
Aztlan, which is still around. It was my first
opportunity to earn some money from my designs,
and afterwards, it became clearer to me that it
was possible to work in what interested me.
I never envisioned doing fine art, I was always
more focused on design and illustration.

Do you feel like you have to do something creative


every day?
Not always. I have production or preparation stages
before starting work every day. What does happen
to me is that I always have to be doing something.
With my studio Copete Cohete, the clothing brand
Tony Delfino, my gallery TOBA, and my band
Stendal, I always have something new to do that
keeps me active every day. I hope in the coming
years to be able to focus more on my personal work
and, little by little, give myself some space from all
the other responsibilities.

With so many different projects going on


simultaneously, how do you stay motivated?
I try to get out of my comfort zone and look for
different things to inspire me to change the way
I do things. I have been stuck in what I’m doing for
some time and I need to think a little bit more about
my graphics, give them a different twist from what
I have done in the past.

96 WINTER 2018 Left: Pardalls, Acrylic on canvas, 31.5” x 35.5”, 2015


Above: Banano’s Bar, Acrylic on canvas, 15.75” x 20”, 2016 SMITHE JUXTAPOZ .COM 97
You have to make lots of quick decisions as a
business owner, designer, muralist, and artist.
Do you find that easy, and are you a naturally
decisive person?
Yes, you have to be cold sometimes and think about
the future. Running a gallery was a very tough
decision that costs me a lot of time, but I’m also
gaining a lot of experience. I keep on learning and
like what we have done with it.

With the gallery, you are trying to create a place


for local artists to show their work. You must have
a lot of young artists who ask you for advice. What
do you tell them?
I try to never give advice. I am so bad at it. When
people do ask me what to do and how we came to
where we are, what I always tell them is to never stop,
to continue to produce and do stuff. The worst thing
that can happen is that nobody sees it but you have
already done it. It is always better to do than to speak.

Along the way, did you ever feel discouraged or


like you might not succeed?
I don’t like to think about whether I have been
successful or not. I like to measure it more by the
things that I have accomplished during these years
and the things that have materialized and are still
here. There are a lot of dead projects that never
came out as I had planned, but I know there’s time
to accomplish them in the future.

Are the design studio, clothing brand and gallery


things you always wanted to do, or did they just
happen along the way?
Everything has happened slowly, with very
calm steps. The clothing brand was for fun and
to have a good time making T-shirts for our
friends. We never planned for these things, they
just happened. It’s the same with the gallery and
illustration studio—in talks and meetings, the ideas
come out and then we start acting upon them. I like
the fact that I have not planned for a lot of what we
have accomplished.

Earlier you mentioned the hope that now that these


things are close to running on their own, you will
have time to focus on your personal work. What
pushes you to keep changing things up?
Yes, finally, after being torn to pieces for every
project, each one is working on its own and I am
happy for that. To be honest, I want to focus more
on my graphics and art in general. I wish I could
explore more things that I have not been able to
accomplish as Smithe, and I think I have in mind
what the next steps are.

Any hints?
I really want to explore my stuff on a 3D level.
I want to leave flat work surfaces for a while and
start putting more depth into my work.

You’ve been a part of the band Stendal for a while


now. What are the differences creatively between
playing music and painting?

98 WINTER 2018 Above: Astronomy Domine, Smithe x Dems One, Mexico City, 2016
SMITHE JUXTAPOZ .COM 99
It is very different. You have to communicate with things if a piece is commissioned, but, for the You have focused on mental disorders, inner
a lot more people, not with words, but to reply most part, there are no sketches. Lately, I have demons and other psychological states in your
with sounds. When we make or try to make music, been wanting to change that and dedicate more work. What has inspired that focus on the mind
there’s nothing written, we do live rehearsals, and time to planning the construction of my work and and brain?
it stays that way. We listen, and if we don’t like see how far it can go. I think that painting is my therapy and, as a result,
it, the four of us continue to work. It’s a process I show what I am feeling in my work. I do not do
totally different from painting, another side of me What is the most rewarding part of the creative any mental exercises or anything like that. When
that I like to keep active. process? I am drawing and painting is when I have time to
Seeing how an idea is born from scratch. The think about me and what I want to do in the future.
What part of the process is similar? process is what I enjoy most, more than seeing Unintentionally, I think that is reflected in the work.
Maybe when you have an idea in your mind but them finished. For example, sometimes a small
never expect the final outcome. What I first imagine change in color will change the attitude of Does believing you have something to say and
is always different from the final product. everything that you have done, and I like that, something that people should see mean attaining
never knowing what the final plan is and being a certain level of confidence? How do you see the
Do you improvise a lot when you paint? surprised along the way. relationship between the ego and the artist?
I improvise almost always. Sometimes I will plan The ego is something to be respected. I think that,

100 WINTER 2018 Left: Haenim, Acrylic on canvas, 23.5” x 35.5”, 2016 Top right: Undeniable, Acrylic on canvas, 31.5” x 35.5”, 2016 Bottom right: Centurion, Acrylic on canvas, 80” × 80”, 2016
in the end, we are all humans and we are all
equal, but we all have different capacities. The ego
sometimes can help and support an idea, but it can
also sink if you don’t know how to handle it. I don’t
like to speak a lot about the ego in my work.

Are there specific things you want to


communicate in your work, or do you prefer
it when people come up with their own
interpretations?
What I like to know is that it makes them think, for
them to wonder as to why or how I did it, because
it’s always fun when they tell you about their own
interpretations. Sometimes it surprises me how
each one of them reads what I do. I think that’s
what I look for; that for a moment, they forget what
they have on their minds and wonder.

Collaboration is a big part of many mural


projects, and you are constantly surrounded
by others in the office. How important is it for
you to have a good community of other creative
people around?
I don’t know, I love working with a lot of people.
That’s my way of working, to always be surrounded
by creative people and do things together. I can’t
imagine being alone working in my studio. It
wouldn’t be me. I think I would be bored by now
and end up doing something else, ha ha.

Obviously there is the scale, but how else does


your creative process differ from working on a
painting in the studio and working on a mural?
They are totally two different worlds. One is super
hermetic and personal, while, with the other one,
you have to adapt to the environment, the people,
the space, and even the weather to accomplish the
mission. I have been in many different situations,
and painting outside always varies so much. Each
wall is different. Painting in the studio is much
more controlled and you set your own limits for
how much time you want to spend on a piece.
When you are painting at festivals with large walls,
time is always very tight to complete the work.
I am already tired with that and I think I will be
leaving that a bit.

Mexico City has a long and influential artistic


history. What do you think it is about the city that
attracts creative people and inspires artists?
I think that a city is always full of information,
movement, noise, and people. At this time, Mexico
City is having a moment where it is growing in
a creative way. Distrito Federal (Greater Mexico
City) has a lot of history and it is very cheap to city, I get that too. I think what I have a hard time Like any natural disaster, it took us aback, but for a
live and have a studio, in comparison to other with is how to handle the massive amount of people moment, we realized what we were really capable
big cities. The artistic scene is growing and that and cars, the total chaos. You would not want to ride of. Being able to take care of each other, seeing
makes me happy. your bike across town. It is a real problem. how people helped others without expecting the
government's support. I'm still amazed by this.
What do you love most about the city as an artist, It’s been a few months since the devastating Mexicans have the notion in our culture to help in
and what do you dislike? earthquake. Is there discouragement and fear the worst scenarios and we demonstrated this on
I have always loved my city. Since I was a kid, I have about the future, or are you encouraged by the 19th of September, 2017.
been very influenced by wandering the streets and everyone coming together to help in the healing
getting lost. By having my studio in the heart of the and rebuilding? smitheone.tumblr.com

Right: Unaware 2, Acrylic on canvas, 31.5” x 39.5”, 2016 SMITHE JUXTAPOZ .COM 101
Kip Omolade
Heavy Metal Deity
Interview by Ron English Portrait by Bryan Derballa

102 WINTER 2018


KIP OMOL ADE JUXTAPOZ .COM 103
104 WINTER 2018 Above: Diovadiova Chrome Kitty Cash III, Oil on canvas, 48” x 60”, 2015
I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Kip Omolade Sometimes I’m interested in a spiritual, timeless
look, so I’ll position my sculptures so that the
face-to-face, but I have certainly pondered the faces he has made. reflections are reduced to abstract shapes and
colors. Other times, I’ll take my sculptures outside
I have always been mesmerized by reflective surfaces and fully so I can get reflections of the world and me. This
approach gives me a chance to capture a specific
understand the complexities of painting oil on canvas to mimic moment in time and make a landscape, a portrait
and a still life all in one painting.
light on metal. The heft of Kip’s art stems from its elemental
People always look for themselves in reflections.
expression of mystery in simplicity and of specificity into How do you exploit this human inclination?
I don’t know if I consciously try to exploit people’s
universal patterns and form. need to see themselves in reflections. I’m more
interested in representing mere human existence.
However, some people see my work online and
Ron English: How personal is your art? power imbuing in your modern interpretation? think I just mount sculptures against colorful
Kip Omolade: My art is deeply personal. The use of I’m inspired by the African representation of backgrounds. I suppose that when they see the work
color is directly connected to my NYC graffiti days. deities. The Nigerian Ife culture specifically created in person, they expect to see themselves but are
The sci-fi look is connected to my childhood and sculptures that combined the natural features of surprised to see that the work is a painting.
teenage interest in comic books and my internship actual leaders and a spiritual ideal. With my latest
at Marvel Comics. The use of oil paint is connected self-portraits, I’m exploring the role of an artist as a There is a dichotomy between the work of art as a
to my painting from life at SVA and the Art Students sort of deity. unique object and a work of art as an illustration
League of New York. of something else. You seem to be trying to
How important are the details in the reflections? balance these two artistic strategies in your work.
Your inspiration comes from the African art Do they constitute a primary or a secondary Am I reading this correctly?
tradition of mask making. Have you retained any narrative? Yes. I want viewers to notice the beauty of my
of the original inspiration, like magical thinking or It depends. I usually work within two motifs. work and my craftsmanship, but I also want to

Above left: Diovadiova Chrome Kip IX, Oil on canvas, 8” x 18”, 2017 Above right: Diovadiova Chrome Joyce III, Oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2016 KIP OMOL ADE JUXTAPOZ .COM 105
106 WINTER 2018 Above: Diovadiova Chrome Karyn IV, Oil on canvas, 24” x 36”, 2015
Above left: Diovadiova Chrome Karyn VIII, Oil on canvas, 9” x 12”, 2017 Above right: Diovadiova Chrome Karyn IX, Oil on canvas, 9” x 12”, 2017 KIP OMOL ADE JUXTAPOZ .COM 107
Below left: Diovadiova Chrome Diana III, Oil on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2014 Below right: Diovadiova Chrome Kip X, Oil on canvas, 18” x 24”, 2017
illustrate the historical significance and cultural internal narrative in the room that would reflect displaying them as luxury items. In fact, when
meaning. One of the things I appreciate about into it, for a counterpoint piece. I’m finished with the sculptures, I usually
your work is that it’s skillfully done and captures That’s an interesting idea. I’ve never thought of that. ceremoniously mount each piece against a panel
the viewer’s attention, but there is also a message with my Diovadiova logo on it. I look at props
about society. Have you considered selling the masks as part of the art. The whole process itself of
themselves? What is your idea of prop versus reproducing a reproduction of a reproduction of a
Have you ever thought of doing the reverse art piece? reproduction of a reproduction of a reproduction is
version to create a model that would be the Yes, I’ve thought of selling the masks themselves. a kind of performance art.
inverse of the face? Then you could stage a more During the process, I’ve always thought about
Describe your process, including fabrication and
photography as you arrive to the final end piece,

“For the sculptures of women I add which is the painting.


I start by making a mold and cast of the model’s

eyelashes to match their personalities.”


face. I work the plaster sculpture by sculpting
eyes and nostrils and refining the overall face.
I use the sculpture to produce a resin version that
is chromed. For the sculptures of women, I add
eyelashes to match their personalities. I photograph
the final sculpture and use references to paint
on canvas.

What's the largest work you've done so far?


My largest painting so far is 96 x 74 inches.

What monumental or fantasy project would you


want to do if money and time were no object?
I would love to travel the world and photograph my
self-portrait chrome sculpture in various locales.
I would also love to work on portraits of iconic people
like Obama, Beyonce, Rihanna and Chuck Close.

How has your experience working within the


gallery system been?
The gallery system is a relatively new experience
for me. I’ve been working independently and
made more money on my own selling directly to
clients. It’s fun to get all of the money directly,
but there is something that’s still powerful about
working with the infrastructure of an established
gallery. They still have the connections and
power to sell, so the artist can focus on creating.
This is why my upcoming Diovadiova Chrome
show at Jonathan LeVine marks an important
moment in my career.

Who is collecting your work and what are they


seeing in the work as opposed to your original
intentions? Has your interaction with the public
changed your approach in any way?
Most of my collectors are entrepreneurs who are
interested in the universal look of my work. They
pretty much get my original intentions of cultural
ties but they also make an emotional connection.

Earlier this year, I had a show at Viacom in NYC


and was happy with the reactions from so many
different people from different nationalities and
backgrounds. The experience didn’t change my
approach but it was meaningful and confirmed
my vision.

Kip Omolade’s newest solo show, Diovadiova Chrome,


is on view at Jonathan LeVine Gallery through
December 16, 2017.

108 WINTER 2018 Left: Diovadiova Chrome Kip IV, Oil on canvas, 72” x 96”, 2016
Above: Diovadiova Chrome Karyn III, Oil on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2014 KIP OMOL ADE JUXTAPOZ .COM 109
110 WINTER 2018
Gustav
Klimt
Hanging with Rodin at the
Legion of Honor
Interview by Gwynned Vitello
F
or those whose perception of Gustav boiling, which later, of course, resulted in a big war
Klimt is confined to Woman in Gold, and and the demise of the Austrian empire.
to Vienna as decadent home of cafes
and pastry, please keep reading. Such But Vienna in the late 19th century was really the
knowledge might accumulate points in Family place to be if you had artistic ambitions, including
Feud, but will assuredly leave you deficient in fully music, literature and theater. This environment,
appreciating this artist who confessed to painting in this case, similar to Paris, also infrastructurally
“Day in and day out, from morning till evening,” reinvented itself with the big boulevards. Vienna
mostly centered in a place called the City of Dreams erased the big fortifications around the inner district,
and City of Music. The Austrian artist comes to the creating the broad, circular Ringstrasse Boulevard.
West Coast for the first time, including two of his
seven-foot panels reproduced from the stunning And this provided Klimt his first opportunity as
Beethoven Frieze. Many of the pieces are making an artist?
their initial trip to the United States in Klimt & There was an enormous amount of building, which
Rodin: An Artistic Encounter. Currently showing at you will still see if you visit, like the famous Vienna
the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the paintings Opera House. This required very lavish visual
are arranged amidst the museum’s vast collection decorations, and so if you talk about Klimt at the
of Rodin sculptures, the better to experience two beginning of his career, he was very gifted, but
audacious artists, as well as a collection of their still more or less a fancy salon kind of artist. With
erotic drawings. I spoke with Viennese born and his brother, he formed a kind of artist’s collective,
bred, Max Hollein, CEO and Director of the Fine Arts where the best artists were basically doing the
Museums of San Francisco. frescoes in the theater, still in a vague, kind of
classical 19th century tradition.
Gwynned Vitello: I think it would be helpful to
know a little more about Gustav Klimt’s Vienna. If you were to look at the buildings, would you have
I know there was a building boom and I think it been able to tell his work apart from his brother’s?
was the fifth largest metropolis. No. It would be completely indecipherable. His
Max Hollein: Vienna, at that time, I think you could brother died young, and we don’t know how he
argue, was the most important city of Europe, would have developed if he would have followed
and I would say the capital of Europe, in the sense with his brother. His father wanted him to have a
that it was the seat of the Emperor and the capital profession, so he and his brother were trained in
Right: Nuda Veritas, Oil
of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. What made that special kind of craft, to really learn to paint.
on canvas, 99.25 “x 22.125”,
1899, Österreichisches
Vienna so fascinating was that it was full of so
Theatermuseum. many different influences. So you had something Would he have been considered a fine artist at
Courtesy Kunsthistorisches
Museum Wien very exciting on one hand, but also something that time?

112 WINTER 2018 Above: The Arts, Paradise Choir, and The, Embrace (detail of Beethoven Frieze),Casein, paint, chalk, graphite, applied plaster, and various,
appliqué materials, 84.7” x 189.4”, 1902, Oesterreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Vienna, Austria © Belvedere, Vienna
He was seen to be in line as one of the great classical
artists, supposedly the successor to Hans Makart,
who influenced him in the lavish allegorical
imagery of the time. Then, what happened next is
fascinating in that Klimt, already perceived to be at
the height of his career, basically pivoted.

How did that happen?


He got the commission to paint the ceiling of the
Great Halls of the University of Vienna in what are
known as the “Faculty Paintings,” which was one
of the most prestigious commissions you could
get. While doing that, he had, not a crisis, but this
inkling that he could no longer cater to whatever
had been commissioned. Rather than paint “the
more favorable aspects of reality” he wanted to
show what was really happening in the world. When
professors saw the paintings, they literally rejected
them, saying “This is not us, this is not where we
are going!” Although he was not addressing them
personally, he was trying to express the dark
side, the angst of life. He literally took back the
panels, finished them himself and paid back the
commissions. We show a reproduction because the
originals were destroyed by fire during the Second
World War.

This was also when he was developing a


philosophy of the “sensibility of the individual,”
and embracing a synthesis of the arts. Is this when
he formed the Secession?
He basically became the spearhead of avant garde
in Vienna and headed the group who separated
from the Viennese Artists’ Society to form the
Secession, a group who no longer wanted to exhibit
in the more classical environment. They generated
their own propaganda machine, saying more or
less, “We are coming, we are the different ones,” as
they created their own program and posters, with
associates from other countries, one of whom was
Rodin. Klimt’s design for the poster to advertise
the first Secession exhibit depicts a naked Theseus
battling the Minotaur, a battle of the old and new.
A large empty space occupies the center, with
text compressed in the lower, demonstrating his
innovative design.

With his “Faculty Paintings” labeled as


pornographic, he had a reputation as an enfant
terrible. We could call him a sort of rebel?
In the sense that he was of the next generation.
Frank Gehry would be an interesting comparison.
If you look at his career, in the beginning, he was
more of a commercial architect, but then developed
a cutting edge, a different kind of style, and became
the pioneer of deconstructive architecture. Klimt
paved the way as he kind of switched sides in what
was really a substantial move. What’s fascinating
is that, on the other hand, though he no longer took
any sort of public commissions, he became the
leading portraitist of Viennese society.

Did all the governments pay commissions to


artists for public works?

Right: Portrait of Ria Munk III (Bildnis Ria Munk III), 1917 (unfinished), Oil on canvas, 180 x 90 cm, The Lewis Collection GUSTAV KLIMT JUXTAPOZ .COM 113
You had the same thing in Paris and Prague, for
example, and you can see it traveling through “Truth is like fire; to tell the truth means
to glow and burn.” —Gustav Klimt
Europe. What changed were the kinds of
commissions in the 16th century, when they were
originally from the church and nobility. When the
cities wanted to show their wealth and power, it
was in the unprecedented spree of really important way, and it creates a whole new series of opportunities, this is basically a naked woman—holding a mirror
buildings, and that was where the action was. possibilities and challenges. So I would see Klimt, before her. In the tall, vertical format, Klimt answers
Klimt was at the epicenter but he still had this and see the insurrection in his painting. He and Egon his critics with the words of the poet Friedrich von
kind of understanding of Viennese art at the time, Schiele portrayed not just aristocrats; there were new Schiller, “If you cannot please everyone with your
which set it apart. With the Jugendstil movement, individuals setting the agenda. deeds and your art, please the few; it is bad to please
you don’t look at one singular piece—architecture, the many.” Later, in Goldfish, a woman looks over
music, painting, and sculpture are all one. Would you say he was radical? her shoulder, but the focus is on her bare derriere
He was, of course, obsessed by beauty on the as Klimt basically tell his critics, “If you don’t like it,
Why was Vienna such a force and how did that one hand, but also was extremely radical in his kiss my ass.”
create Klimt? compositions; the format of the dissolution of
On the one hand, you have the Hapsburgs Empire the object became extremely symbolist. It was While he was trained in painting, he didn’t have
already in its demise, so what empires do to hold psychologically fraught and could almost put you off an extensive education or study with a master,
onto a common denominator is something where balance. People just love the Portrait of Sonja Knips. but, early in his career, he met a woman who was
power that represents stability can be expressed, It is sheer beauty because what he’s done is that kind of muse and mentor his entire life.
especially to the aristocratic class. The Hapsburgs the left half of the painting is basically darkness, a He had liaisons with many different women, and he
excelled in a long tradition of collecting, and given composition that before would have been filled, let’s primarily painted women, but his relationship with
Vienna’s location in Central Europe, it was culturally say, with flowers. She’s sitting there, and obviously Emilie Floge was especially intense. They spent
charged, but also culturally charged at a time when he likes her face, but the meaning is in the opalescent summers together and their letters go back and
the establishment probably was new. The Jewish textures of the dress, punctuated by a red notebook. forth. So he was, to a certain extent, Bohemian, but
community was coming into wealth. You had also catered to the bourgeois crowd. It’s certainly
Sigmund Freud, you had Arthur Schnitzler, the most Tell us about the Naked Truth. the life he wanted to live, this dual life while living
important theater writer of the time. This kind of Nuda Veritas was absolutely a radical painting at in the city, then spending a good deal of time in the
energy was absorbed by the art in a very productive that time. This is not allegorical, this is not Eve, countryside, which a lot of them did. It was a typical

114 WINTER 2018 Above left: Portrait of a Lady, 1917–1918, Oil on canvas, 26.375” x 22”. Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria / Bridgeman Images
Above right: Portrait of Sonja Knips, 1898, Oil on canvas, 57.125” x 57.5”, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
Above: The Virgin, Oil on canvas, 74.75” x 78.75”, 1913, National Gallery Prague, © 2017 National Gallery in Prague GUSTAV KLIMT JUXTAPOZ .COM 115
lifestyle for this crowd. But I still think of Klimt as They really started with the whole battle over piece is neither naive, nor precious, but becomes
kind of a renegade. Although he and his brother the “Faculty Paintings” and him feeling kind of ornamental by itself and has these different
came out of a trio of artists, he never painted with a attacked. He started going to the countryside, textures so that it possesses its own magic, as well
workshop or assistants, so his output is very small, to relax and to find something different. If you as a kind of humility.
something along the lines of 250 signed works. compare him to Van Gogh, he was tackling some
really big issues, which Van Gogh never did. Klimt Then there are the erotic drawings, and you have a
I guess that’s not surprising, since painting went on to the most mundane subjects, like a garden lot of them on display at this exhibit.
was a solitary practice for him, and he didn’t take of flowers, so he had this whole breadth of topics, A lot of artists made them, and I think, for him,
on students. which was fairly unusual for an artist of this era. it was really something he did to loosen up,
He’s seen as the most famous and important visual Out of a traditional kind of painting, like Philosophy actually, a rather extreme obsession, and he did
artist from Austria, but there are very few Klimts and the Beethoven Frieze, then he finds truth and these drawings continuously. I don’t have the
around because, yes, his body of work is so small, expression in the most beautiful, if commonplace, ratio, but I’d say that roughly 80 percent of his
and very early on were in a lot of institutions, and things. You don’t find that from artists of the time, drawings are women, a lot of them are enacted
this contributes to the mythology. What I find and Klimt tried to reinvent the canon with this in various sexual positions, some masturbating,
interesting is that he had a hard time finishing his whole breadth of platforms of expression. others are at times, of two women. These are
work, and at a point in his career, he approached the highly intense erotic moments, very intimate.
possibility that unfinished work is actually finished, His approach to landscapes was different, like While Klimt’s paintings, coming out of the
and he was exhibiting these works. I think he was cutting a hole in a piece of cardboard and looking symbolist tradition, use a certain kind of formula
assessing himself, asking if they need more, and if through his “searcher.” and indicate his love for mosaic, the drawings
they incorporate the sheer essence of what he was He wrote about that, but I think the important are sheer reduction in how they’re laid out, some
trying to convey. It’s an interesting approach and aspect of the landscapes, besides them being undecipherable but extremely beautiful and
there is an avant-gardism in that some of these beautiful, is that the square format was unusual. completely sensual.
unfinished paintings are extremely fresh. They have this flatness which is utterly fascinating.
Trees, lawn, the building all flatten so that Some of his quotes reference Japanese art, so
We’ve talked about his allegorical works he negates any kind of perspective or three I imagine this was an influence on much of his art.
and female portraits, so when did he start the dimensionality in that context. What he achieves in If you look at the Japanese woodcuts or landscapes,
landscapes? Did he paint those as a way to unwind? neglecting any kind of perspective is that the whole they have different objects and scenes that appear
almost glued to one another, as if there’s no
transition between the foreground, middle and
background. That’s certainly an influence, though
the execution is completely different.

He didn’t seem to travel extensively, but his trip to


Ravenna had an impact, didn't it?
He wrote in his diary that he was fascinated by
the Ravenna mosaics and the possibilities of gold,
which became this sort of ornamental use in his
works. What was important to him was that the
gold was reflective, that it shined, but basically
intensified and compounded the view. It almost
radiates in a certain way and is something that pulls
different areas together.

I’m curious, after landscapes and all the female


subjects, why he painted The Baby towards the
end of his life.
Well, it’s an unusual composition because of the
intense interest in the fabrics. I think it’s something
that comes with the viewpoint. He’s obviously
influenced, noting the strange perspective he
applies, by photography here. He seemed to like
the innocence of the baby as a motif, this pristine,
identifiable baby with a complex and unidentifiable
wall surrounding it.

I have to ask, were caftans a typical fashion for


men of the day?
No. That design by his partner, Emilie Floge, was
very unusual. It has a Greek mythology feel, but it is
definitely a fashion statement.

Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter is


on view at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor through
January 28, 2018

116 WINTER 2018 Left: Baby (Cradle), 1917–1918, Oil oncanvas, 110 x 110 cm, National Gallery of Art,Washington, Gift of Otto and Franciska Kallir with the help of the Carol and Edwin Gaines Fullinwider Fund
Above: Alley in front of Castle Chamber, 1912, Oil on canvas, 43.25” x 43.25”, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Artothek /Bridgeman Images GUSTAV KLIMT JUXTAPOZ .COM 117
118 WINTER 2018
THIS IS THEN AND
THIS IS NOW
Interview by Evan Pricco Portrait by Kyle Dorosz
The city is a living, breathing entity and from Evan Pricco: After all the hustle and bustle of NYC,
you are going to be in North Carolina for a bit
above, the perspective that Daniel Rich approaches preparing for the next solo show, right?
Daniel Rich: I’m in a place called West Jefferson,
in his image-making creates fluid interpretations of North Carolina. I think it has 1,500 people living
in it, barely even a town. It's in the Appalachian
the landscape. Am I looking at New York City? Is that Mountains, basically western North Carolina. It's
very beautiful. My wife's family owns property here,
Tokyo? Does it matter? As Rich puts it, his overall goal so the space was just available. We're just going to
live here and see what happens.
in making works based around cities and architecture
Although you grew up in Germany, you lived in
is to have “a dialogue about changing political power South Carolina later, and then you went to New
York City. Give me a little bit of a background of
structures, failed utopias, the impacts of ideological how you got to where you are now.
Yeah, I'm sort of stateless. My parents are from
struggles, war and natural upheavals.” Every city’s London, but I was born in Germany because my dad
is a hematologist with the Red Cross and was based
history relates to change, failed ideas and overlapping there. I lived in Germany until I was 19, and then my
dad took a new job in Columbia, South Carolina.
architectural eras mixed with historic relics and smart I had the choice of staying in Germany or coming to
the states. In Germany, I was skateboarding, painting
design. In his paintings, the NYC-based, German-born graffiti, and just not really focused on anything in
particular. Because things weren’t looking so bright
artist has created a language that functions as both for me, I decided to move to South Carolina and did
a year of high school there.
window and mirror, to view the city as a vital portal
Everyone was applying to college and I decided to
of the past and future. apply to art school because I always liked to draw

120 WINTER 2018 Above left: Guangzhou Circle, Night, Acrylic on Dibond, 59” x 72”, 2017 Above right: Palestinian Meridien Hotel, Baghdad, Acrylic on Dibond, 33” x 32”, 2016
Above: Western District, Hong Kong, Acrylic on Dibond, 30” x 37”, 2016 DANIEL RICH JUXTAPOZ .COM 121
122 WINTER 2018 Above: Athens, Acrylic on Dibond, 59” x 72”, 2017
and, like I said, I had a background of painting graff.
Because South Carolina was such a big culture shock
for me, I went to Atlanta to this place called Atlanta
College of Art, which doesn't exist anymore, but there
was an art school at the time. I was going to study
graphic design but then immediately got into painting
and printmaking. I didn’t know I would be into that!
And then something odd happened where I got some
awards, so then I started thinking about graduate
school. I wanted to get out of the South. I wanted to
live in a city again, one that had a river, transit system,
and stuff like that, and for some reason, I decided on
Boston. Then I just kept it going. From there, I moved
down to New York and just kept working. Maybe the
last five years or so, I've been able to support myself just
with my work.

What was Daniel Rich the graffiti writer like?


I was very tight. Actually, when I moved to Atlanta,
REVOK was still there, and so I was psyched to
see graff on such a level. That was also more of
the scene in Atlanta. It was more about painting
productions, and then the illegal spots were more
like silver pieces. We did a lot of highway spots and
things like that, so that's what I did most in Atlanta.
When I moved to New York, I didn't have the energy
anymore to stay up late. I didn't really paint. I was
just more of an observer of graffiti after that.

It makes sense because you have such an


observational eye for a city in general. I always
noticed that people who did graffiti at a young age
tend to look at the city differently as they get older.
It works with skateboarders, as well. It seems as
if you gain a perspective from graffiti so that you
understand structure and mass in a certain way.
That and growing up in Germany, being really into
history and seeing how history and landscapes aren’t
there anymore because of war and political change.
So, Germany, skating and graffiti led me to being into
architecture or just having an appreciation for the
built environment. Seeing how buildings connect
with each other, I've definitely carried that through
into what I'm doing now.

This probably isn’t the first time you have had


heard commentary that in your paintings, it's like
the world has been abandoned. There's something
about that absence of people that has a doomsday
feel, like what's left behind when we leave.”
It’s not necessarily something that I do on purpose, So much in Germany was rebuilt and was new, but Let’s cite an example; for instance, your painting,
but, for the most part, I do try to make them appear was also made to look old. You get this ugly modern Athens, from 2017. Talk about the way you choose
somewhat timeless by editing out references to look that doesn't fit with the rest of the landscape. an image, what your motivations are when
people. I do know that they come off as being "the I guess what I'm really interested in is how history picking a city.
day after" kind of look. It’s interesting that I'm not is recorded through architecture, while paintings I had gotten into the Athens cityscape because
really that aware of it, but I like what people read capture a moment in time. Maybe there's something Athens is this iconic place, the birthplace of
into them on their own. uncanny about the scene, something strange. That's democracy, and has undergone so much change in
something I do, add a weirdness to the image, the course of its existence. Also, the contemporary
Depending on where you are in the world, some something that's a little unsettling. I look at it like face of Athens is a direct result of the clash between
structures themselves have an inhuman concept, a Trojan Horse because the subject matter, I would capitalism and communism, because after the civil
almost like they've come from a different planet say, is 95% politically motivated. Maybe you'll find war in Greece in the late 1940s, it was either going
and were not positioned organically. Or the way so out the title of the work, the city, and that might to lead toward a communist system or capitalist
many buildings and styles clashed after cities were introduce some other thoughts into your head as far system. Basically the government prevailed and
rebuilt after WWII, especially in Germany. as what the painting is even about. wanted a capitalist system, and what they did was

Above right: Stadium, Acrylic on Dibond, 59” x 81”, 2012 DANIEL RICH JUXTAPOZ .COM 123
encourage this building boom in Athens in order to image, and so forth. The line drawing on the vinyl I love that sigh.
get the workers, the middle class, whatever you want covered panel is then "re-drawn" with an exacto It’s meditative, but they do take a long time to make,
to call it, on their side to vote for them. blade—every line is scored with a knife. Once the line which is the downside of my practice. I have had
is cut, I can remove vinyl shapes to be painted in. assistance in the past from interns, and it does help
They encouraged all this building in Athens, move me forward faster, but I'm a real stickler about
building which led to jobs, growth and people Once I have scored the line drawing, I mix as many stuff, so if the lines aren't straight, it's not going to
making money. It just so happened that the kind colors based on the image I'm working from as fly. I feel like I’m the only one who can do the cutting
of buildings the state encouraged were really possible—a color for each shape. The shapes are part. People say, "Oh you should use a vinyl cutter,
simple constructions, these multi-level concrete painted in with a squeegee by masking and re- you should do this or do that," but I just can't see it
apartment dwellings. It's this early Modernist idea of masking over the scored line drawing over and over really working out the same way as just doing them
architecture, but what was adopted in Athens is just until every shape has been painted in. The large by hand. It would lose the personality. I'm just going
super dense and looks like these stacked concrete paintings usually have about 300 colors and take with what I know for now.
blocks. That was the idea. I didn't actually know all about 2-3 months to finish.
of that. The initial idea was this clash of capitalism So we talked about Athens, but you have a range of
over communism. It goes without saying that seeing your work in cities and structures you have addressed in your
person is such a different experience because you work. What else goes into the picking process?
What I do is I basically scour the internet for images actually get to see those layers you are talking about. I'm a news junkie, so I listen to the radio a lot and I read
that I can use. First, I blow up my source image to Yeah, you can see it's actually painted and really cut the newspaper, and it's about the things that catch my
the size I want the painting to be and print it out on with those raised edges where it's masked off. I do like attention. Then I try to seek out images that somehow
an oversized black and white printer. Then I trace that tactile quality, but they really flatten out when you reference that event or that thing that interests me. For
the photograph on to the panel, which is completely look at them on the screen. They don't read the same example, the Hong Kong painting I made came about
covered with a transparent vinyl mask. The tracing is way as they do in person, which is a good thing. An after the Umbrella protests that happened there that
then tidied up with a black ink pen—that way 8-by-8-foot painting takes up to 3 months of work to were about pro-democracy. I only started working
I can fix perspective issues, edit and add to the finish, which is ... a little long [sighs]. on the whole cityscape works four or five years ago.
Before that, I wasn't really doing these really dense
compositions, it was more free-standing buildings. The
imagery has gone down this road where it's really busy
compositions right now.

You're not doing the postcard shots, which I think


is very refreshing.
I definitely don't want to do the postcard shots.
That was the thing with the New York City painting,
too, the Upper East Side. When you think of NYC,
everyone thinks of that skyline. And I don't want to
do that. For that work, I took the picture myself, but
I do prefer to work from source images just because
it's part of the content. I find an image and it's super
complex, but I get psyched about it because I see the
possibilities of it being a good painting.

And you are working with nuance, often a


complicated history or turning points in history.
They aren’t as literal as seeing sights you are used
to seeing.
They're definitely a lot more open ended in that way.
My painting, Gamcheon Cultural Village, Busan,
South Korea, looks like a Lego hillside painting.
That was originally a refugee camp from the Korean
War that's now become an artists’ village. It also
underwent this transformation of being a place of
despair, and now it's a tourist attraction.

When I first looked at that work, I confused it with


something you might see outside out of São Paulo.
Yeah, it has a very different history but then
adapted the same kind of architectural style. It's
just out of necessity: we gotta build a shack and
that's how we're going to build a shack. There's
a hillside, they'll just climb up the hillside until
they're at the top of the hill. I think it's interesting
that we share these commonalities all over the
world, that as humans, we automatically go to these
same kind of styles of shelter.

124 WINTER 2018 Above left: FoxConn, Shenzhen, Acrylic on Dibond, 19” x 21”, 2012
The stadium painting is what first attracted me Yeah, I’m preparing for a show at Peter Blum Gallery Amazon to take over this role of being this supplier
to your work. I have a fascination with empty in NYC in early Spring, 2018. I'm hopefully going to of the written word I think is really interesting. Also,
stadiums. have eight to ten paintings. Six of them will be large, there's been these key events in history involving
That one was hell to paint! It’s really hard to paint and then I want to throw in some smaller ones. destructions of libraries, like the Nazi book burnings
the seats. It's based off the stadium called the Big and ISIS destroying libraries. I got it in my head that
Eye in Japan. I'm interested in the fan culture of For your sanity? I would make this painting of an Amazon warehouse
soccer and how it also brings groups of people For my sanity, plus I like having smaller paintings; that was looted or destroyed and then place that next
together, these very fanatical meetings, a “power of not only because they go faster, but I just feel like it to an image of a pristine one.
the masses” kind of a thing. A stadium can really feels good to make something more immediate. The
exemplify that, and it being empty gives a moment show, I guess, is inspired by current events. There's I’m working on another, bigger Athens painting,
of stillness that I like. all this talk about globalism and anti-globalism, and I have a big, empty stadium that's based on one
just the fact that we have already moved past that in North Korea. I'm doing a painting of worker
I personally got really fascinated with Olympic point of being anti-globalism, I think. We are all housing in China that's also like a big cityscape.
stadiums after the games. A lot of them aren't in this world together, we're more connected than I like working with these seemingly unconnected
used for anything, and they just kind of sit there, ever. To be anti-globalist at this point in this country images. But then they do all connect on multiple
especially in locations that aren’t as developed as is just ridiculous. That's what the show is going levels, just not overtly. I have been told that
Los Angeles or London. It's like Chernobyl, these to revolve around. I’ve been working again on the I should make more theme-based shows, but for
relics left behind. It’s like perfectly sustained ruins. Amazon fulfillment center works, and there will be a some reason, I can never quite get into that idea.
Yep, instantaneous ruins. It will be ruined at some couple of those. I don't want to make a show that's all the same
point, like these cityscapes I’m doing. All this stuff kinds of building or towers, or this or that. That
that we're building for specific purposes that's now What I like about an Amazon fulfillment center kind of bores me. History is too chaotic.
just languishing. is that people always think it's a library. It's not
a library, it's a warehouse! That made me think Daniel Rich’s next solo show will be on view at Peter Blum
Let’s talk about the show, because you are in North about how Amazon is like a future library and Gallery in NYC in April, 2018. His book, Windows and
Carolina with a purpose. how libraries are sort of national heritage sites. For Mirrors, is available at danielrich.net.

Above: Amazon Books, Acrylic on Dibond, 77” x 59”, 2013 DANIEL RICH JUXTAPOZ .COM 125
126 WINTER 2018
Luke
Pelletier
The Idea Man
Interview by Eben Benson Portrait by Brandon Forest Jenson

LUKE PELLETIER JUXTAPOZ .COM 127


128 WINTER 2018 Above: Should’ve Seen it Coming for a While, Acrylic on canvas, 32” x 40”, 2017
N
ostalgia for youth is a potent force, plans, starting bands, pitching TV shows, learning man? Growing up, I always felt the tension there,
a pure vision of what life could be if new instruments, writing better songs, going on especially with my parents. Where do you see
only we could return to that place. tour, making paintings, taking photos, working elements of your rural upbringing in your work?
It disregards harsh realities, while with my friends, getting fucked over, learning new I think I always felt like an outsider in North Carolina
embracing the joy, romanticizing the pain. It turns techniques, collaborating with other people, curating because I wasn’t actually born there. I moved there
sensual memories into towering symbols that art shows, learning how not to get fucked over, when I was seven years old from Tampa, Florida.
stay with us forever, shaping the values, goals, running an offset press, and throwing everything My parents didn’t know anyone when we moved to
and hobbies that bring us joy in adulthood. Luke I’ve got into being creative. I’ve always done a million Brevard. The town is really small. Everyone knows
Pelletier unearths this world and these memories, things at the same time. I’ve tried to narrow my focus everyone and they’ve known each other their whole
tempers them, but ultimately invites us to hang out in the past, but the boredom and restlessness become lives. No one ever did anything specific to make
back there with him. Growing up in rural North unrelenting. I don’t really have religion. At least not me feel like I wasn’t a part of the community, but
Carolina, Luke’s reality was shaped and formed by my parents’ religion. So if I find meaning in anything I always knew I wasn’t. My parents were always real
the confluence of punk and skateboarding with at all, it’s in the things I make and the work I do. cool about everything. They encouraged me to draw
traditional American values. His work playfully I guess that’s what keeps me going. and they let my shitty hardcore band practice in
incorporates sentimentality and Americana, our basement. I knew they thought the stuff I was
contrasting them with the inner conflicts of growing How does your somewhat traditional background, making was weird and the music sounded like hell,
as a person and as a man. coming from rural North Carolina, interact but they just let me be weird. I never got much grief
with your identity as a skate rat, artist, or idea from them, but I got it from everyone else.
Eben Benson: I feel like, with looming adulthood,
there's this urgency to work tirelessly towards
goals, regardless of whether they’re wanted or
valued. You seem scattered, though in a good
way, so no one can doubt your prolific work ethic.
When did you realize you were unable to or
simply unwilling to just work towards something
for the sake of working?
Luke Pelletier: I think I’ve always had a similarly
scattered and driven personality. I loved art, but for
a long time, I didn’t really know where art came from
or that people could be artists. There aren’t many
art museums in the South and if there are, I wasn’t
going to them. I never really saw anyone making art
around me. It all just seemed really impossible. So it’s
hard for me to pinpoint when I realized I wanted to
be an artist. Even though I didn’t know about fine art,
I knew I didn’t want to work a normal job. So I’d come
up with little schemes to make money. When I was
a kid, like second grade probably, my school banned
Pokemon cards. All the kids had their lunch money or
whatever. I’d get a stack of notecards from the library
and I’d draw some pretty alright looking trading cards
and sell ’em for a dollar each, or three for two. The
kids would trade them and try to pay extra for better
cards. Pretty soon, I cleared a hundred dollars off of
these bootleg Pokemon cards. That was a fortune to
me at the time. Then the other kids’ parents started
complaining because their kids were coming home
hungry after they blew all their money on my cards.
I had to have a meeting with the principal and my
mom. He told me I had to give all the money to this
charity the school was doing. I agreed, but I never did.
The little shit that I was, I kept the money and I felt like
I outsmarted an authority figure.

I just liked all of it. The creativity. The hustle.


Breaking rules. Making money. Once I started to
realize that I could make things that were fulfilling to
me but also operated as a part of some sort of culture,
I became hooked. I got hooked on learning to make
new things, throwing parties, blacksmithing, taking
photos, expressing myself, opening businesses,
printmaking, watching my ideas fall apart, coming
up with new ones, watching my business fail,
doing design work, coming up with new business

Right: Three Times Through, Acrylic on panel, 11” x 14”, 2017 LUKE PELLETIER JUXTAPOZ .COM 129
I had a real problem with a lot of the things I saw summer the tourists return and it comes back to created this whole world that was designed for
growing up in the South, and I had a hard time life. I still make a lot of art about all of that stuff. skating. All of the music was so energetic and
keeping it to myself. Most of the people I’d hang You can hear it more in my music and see it more new to me. You’d be skating crazy impossible
out with were down to earth, but you didn’t have in my pictures, but I’ve always painted pretty obstacles and smashing through windows. It
to look far to see some dumbass with a rebel flag heavily about seasonal economies and tourist was this perfect teenage paradise with no rules.
tattoo who felt like he was put on earth to build a culture. A lot of my inspiration comes from the It wasn’t long after that when I actually got into
wall and keep the government small. Even though flea markets I visit in the South, the hand painted skateboarding and punk. I fully bought into all of it.
I thought I was so much “holier than thou” because signage, building materials, alligators, and hard My friends and
I didn’t have a “the south will rise again” bumper work. The South is a complicated place, but it’s I started some crappy bands. And when we weren’t
sticker, I’d never heard the word feminism until where I’m from. I think it’d be hard for me to practicing, we’d go skating uptown or hang out at
I went to college at SAIC in Chicago. So I had a lot make anything that doesn’t have some sort of the skate park. The people who owned the park gave
of catching up to do as well. reference to how and where I grew up. my older brother a job and they let us play shows
whenever we wanted. So that sort of became our
A few years after we moved there, a lot of the I read that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was a piece second home for a while.
factories in the town started closing down. It of your childhood that affected your view of the
seemed like the whole town was out of work world a lot, and that nailed a huge feeling for me. I That game and a lot of my other interests, like
for a while, and that didn’t help ease any of the love you saying that your work aims to create the flea markets, tourist towns, themed restaurants,
tension. But then the town started to rebrand world that you kind of found out didn't exist. How amusement parks, mini golf, and things like
itself as a tourist spot. They cleaned up the is that going? How do you find that ideal world that definitely got me interested in the idea of a
downtown area, opened up some bars, and built has changed? constructed paradise—places where every detail
a bike path. After that, the whole town was Yeah! That game was huge for me. I was wicked seems considered. They provide you with an
operating on a seasonal economy. Every winter young when I first played it, so it was sort of my first experience you can’t get anywhere else. I guess
the shops close and the town dies, but every introduction to skateboarding and punk. The game that’s what I’ve always been working towards. I’ve

130 WINTER 2018 Above: No One’s Really Watching Anymore, Acrylic on panel, 72” x 54”, 2017
made some attempts at building my own world a and an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. is different and the creative communities are so
few times. The last time I did it was at New Image It’s a trip out here. There are palm trees everywhere energetic. There are a lot of really great DIY art and
Art for my last solo show. I was happy with how so it feels like you’re always on vacation. People music spaces in LA, so there’s always cool art to see
it came out, but it was only up for two weeks. In smoke weed outside of bars like they’re smoking and good music to listen to, but, across the board,
the future, I’d like to open something that people cigarettes. Everywhere you go, it’s like having déjà this city charges way too much for beer. When I tell
can enjoy for a longer period of time, and I’d like vu because you’ve been there before in some movie the boys back home that people are buying eight-
to find business partners that I feel like I can you can’t recall. I’ve never seen so many people dollar beers, they lose their minds.
trust. I’ve watched a few projects crash and burn
because I brought on people who couldn’t deliver Growing up skateboarding, what were some
what they promised. Whatever I’m working
towards has never been a fixed thing. If I go on a “But across the notable graphics you remember? Were there any
companies or artists that really stood out to you

board, this city


walk today and see some really awesome shutters, in the skate world?
I’ll go home and redesign the shutters on the bar I don’t even think I was born when it came out,
I’ve been working on. I’m a scattered person, so but my favorite graphic, hands down, is American
it’s always changing.
charges way too Icons by Marc McKee. As far as companies I thought
were cool, I really liked enjoi. That Jason Adams

much for beer.”


It seems like you were meant to be in California. part in the Bag of Suck video was always one of my
What made you move to Los Angeles? favorites. And I liked the way they did those funny
I’ve wanted to live in Los Angeles for as long as intros with the bootleg special effects. Ed Templeton
I can remember. A lot of that came from being into and Toy Machine, of course. We must have watched
punk and skateboarding because that’s where all with so much money in all my life. They own that Baker 3 video a thousand times at the park.
my favorite bands and skaters were, but I had no whole streets and they pack them with mansions, And I know they weren’t a skate team or whatever,
reference for it other than what I saw in movies. So but if you go a few blocks in any direction, you’re but the whole Jackass thing really resonated with
I always had this picture in my head of what the city walking into another world. I’ve eaten food out here my friends and me. We were mostly skating in
was like. Most of that came from Beverly Hills Cop, that looks like it’s out of a science fiction movie, parking lots and stuff like that. So we’d get bored
Dogtown And Z-Boys, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and been introduced to a culture I’ve never even and copy all the dumb shopping cart stunts they
Boyz In The Hood, and Crocodile Dundee 3. But it’s heard of at the same time. It’s not a very integrated warned us against. We’d come up with our own
been a lot more like a cross between Less Than Zero city, but it’s very diverse. Every neighborhood stunts and film them while we were out skating.

Above right: I Can’t Remember What I Felt So Guilty About this Morning, Acrylic on canvas, 32” x 40”, 2016 Above left: Static Drone, Acrylic on canvas, 32” x 40”, 2016 LUKE PELLETIER JUXTAPOZ .COM 131
132 WINTER 2018 Above: Island Tours, Acrylic on panel, 16” x 20”, 2017
I was more into skating that seemed creative and everyone is looking at the same stuff. I feel like recently? Do you find the same thought or theme
fun rather than technical. A big part of that might every artist uses Google images at some point or floating around your head for months at a time, or is
have been because I was never all that good at it. another to find reference images. And that’s fine, it always spontaneous?
but you end up seeing the same breaching shark If feel like I’m always sort of thinking about
In the past, you've spoken about how the internet photo done in the style of twenty different artists. labor, competition, tourist culture, capitalism,
gave you access to so many things that influenced I’m trying to get away from that a bit, but it’s hard vices, romance, moral dilemmas with romance,
you growing up. Obviously, the internet has to justify going to the library for a picture of a objectification, addiction, free will, masculinity,
changed a lot, and so have you. How do you feel shark or trying to take one of your own when you fun, and ultimately, Americana. When I wake
about the internet and Instagram these days? have 10,000 images of sharks on your phone. up, I usually continue to work on whatever I was
Where do you see it helping young artists and working on the night before. Ideas and lyrics come
where do you see it hindering them? Do you still like to build things? How do you treat to me throughout the day and I try my best to write
Most of what I learned about skateboarding and building something for utility versus making them all down. Sometimes I write them directly on
punk came from the internet. There just wasn’t a something aesthetically pleasing? the painting I’m working on and sometimes they
lot of information about that stuff lying around the I love building things! I try to do that as frequently end up on a list. I put the really good ones on a
South. Other than my friends, no one was really as I can. How I approach it depends on what I’m separate list so they don’t get pushed to the side. At
into it. Not only were we able to find songs and building. If I’m building a bar, I have to take into some point, every day, I work on the lists I already
videos, but if we wanted to build a quarter pipe or account the lighting, the size, the materials, the have. Sometimes I just put similar ideas near each
find out when bands were coming to our area, it fact that people will be spilling drinks on it, the other so I can make connections and combine them
had all that. Once my band started playing shows, possibility of people dancing on it, how people into a single idea later on, or I work on developing
we used the internet to set up shows and promote operate in the space, aesthetics, stability, and heaps an individual idea. Some ideas have been on the
them. That’s when I started learning Photoshop, of measurements. Making paintings is great, but list for five or six years and have no chance of ever
coding, and all that, so I could make my band’s there’s no better feeling than watching your friends seeing the light of day. So there’s a spontaneity to
website look cooler. As far as Instagram goes, I get drunk at a bar you’ve built. how I come up with things, but it’s also fussed over
think it’s great! It’s cool to be able to keep in touch for months.
with artists from around the world. I feel like I’m When we met, you gave me a matchbook (also a
a part of a scene that’s a lot bigger than the city I business card) that referred to you as an idea man. Luke Pelletier’s newest solo show, American Fizzle, opens
live in. My biggest beef with the internet is that What's a common idea that's been recurring for you at New Image Art in Los Angeles in February, 2018.

Above: Work Hard and Buy Lottery Tickets, Acrylic on panel, 36” x 24”, 2017 LUKE PELLETIER JUXTAPOZ .COM 133
EVENTS WHERE WE’RE HEADED

Cleon Peterson: Shadow of Men @ MCA Denver


February 2–May 27, 2018 mcadenver.org
“If we don’t confront the evils within ourselves, we’ll never be forced to take action against the evils in our
world.” This is what Cleon Peterson told Juxtapoz when we asked him about the themes behind his massive
new museum show, Shadow of Men, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver this fall through
spring. Peterson’s work has an aura, its shadowy characters depicting ultra-violence and combat as a metaphor
for conflicts we see so often in both the political and social realm. But as many people have used the current
political climate around the world to reevaluate their own identity (while others seem to be empowered by
divisiveness), Peterson’s cinematic scenes have emerged with more clarity. What once seemed like visions
of the future now seem like scenes from our streets. No, not every street corner is full of violence, but the
possibility of conflict always seems too close for comfort. That is where the body of work for Shadow of Men is
at its best. Like a horrible nightmare or sleep-paralyzed hallucination, these evils loom just under the surface.
In his cover story with Juxtapoz back in October 2014, Peterson explained“ I want to present things that are
cognitively dissonant, ideas that make the viewer have to think critically about the ethical, moral, and historical
roles we all play in the world.”

Laura Owens
@ The Whitney, NYC
Through February 4, 2018
whitney.org
When it comes to the ongoing battle about
painting’s relevance in the contemporary art world,
Laura Owens is a powerful team captain. She
unapologetically takes painting into experimental
dimensions using humble craft material
innovations and continuous collaboration. Her
influence is broad, gliding through postmodern
and post-analog waves, leaving new doors open
in her wake. The first major New York survey of
this L.A. artist opens this fall at The Whitney
Museum of American Art, a place where Owens
seems at home, having been featured prominently
in two biennials and the institution’s collection.
The exhibition will cover her cheeky, bold works
from the ’90s until now, tracking the mesmerizing
and prolific shifts in her practice over the years.
Unafraid to incorporate humor and joy, and
take significant left turns, changing styles as
she pleases, creating new, unrecognizable work
without hesitation, Owens is an inspiration. It
cannot be ignored that staying true to yourself and
your own taste when embedded in the museum
world and high-end art market is a significant
challenge, and she’s crushed it accordingly. From
painting on the back of canvas frames to honoring
nostalgia and anonymous artists, Owens is a
pioneer, and this exhibition is sure to be a lesson in
the benefits of choosing your own adventure.

134 WINTER 2018


WHERE WE’RE HEADED EVENTS

Ten Year Anniversary Show Club 57: Film, Performance, and Muzae Sesay: Domestic Dive
@ Joshua Liner Gallery, NYC Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 @ Athen B. Gallery, Oakland
January 4–January 27, 2018 @ MoMA February 10–March 2, 2018
joshualinergallery.com Through April 1, 2018 athenbgallery.com
Even as an East Coast gallerist, Joshua Liner moma.org “Abstraction is a broad term. I consider most of
always tapped into “California Cool.” When Liner On Halloween, MoMA opened film curator my current work to be abstract figurative due to
ran Lineage Gallery in Philly, and then moved Ron Magliozzi’s dynamic project Club 57: its representation of a skewed sense of space,
to NYC to open his namesake gallery ten years Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, while incorporating spatial elements such as stairs,
ago, he brought a roster of West Coast-centric 1978–1983. This first major exhibition to survey the doorways, etc.,” says Oakland, California-based
artists that made his space distinct in the Chelsea club’s legacy includes three film series of recently painter Muzae Sesay. At this point in history, it is
art scene. This continues today, with Northern preserved pre-digital video, as well as an installation increasingly clear that styles cycle through, and
California naturalists like Tiffany Bozic and Serena of photographs, xeroxed flyers, paintings, drawings, what was once old may one day start to feel brand
Mitnik-Miller, sophisticated skate-influenced collaged event calendars, costumes, and a wacky new again. For some reason or another, you may
painters such as Geoff McFetridge, Andrew black light room by Kenny Scharf. Club 57 served begin to see the decade you occupy start to look
Schoultz and Evan Hecox, and contemporary as a laboratory/screening room/performance/ like a decade from the past, and the styles that
talents Hilary Pecis and Libby Black. For their party space, and became the true epicenter of seemingly made that decade unique will return
Ten Year Anniversary Show, Joshua Liner Gallery creative activity in the East Village, influencing in new, vibrant forms as we enter a new phase
will tap into that Cali vibe, but also expand into virtually every club that came along in its wake. Like of history. Our conversation about abstraction
some of the gallery’s European reach with Parra, the original location in the basement of a Polish with Sesay began as he was preparing the works
along with the abstract experimentations of Sam church at St. Mark’s Place, MoMA’s exhibition for his solo show at Athen B. Gallery, Domestic
Friedman and Johnny Abrahams, and world- is held in its lower level theater lobby galleries, Dive. Both gallery and artist are the perfect
famous collector stalwarts like Wayne White and effectively recreating the dimly lit club space in a marriage—emerging talents that have an eye on
Kris Kuksi. The anniversary celebration isn’t so museum setting. The curation of nearly 100 artists past eras but also explore emerging trends and
much a look back for the gallery, but a collective for this exhibition quickly snowballed into a massive styles in contemporary art. In conversation with
focus of where the gallery’s curation goes for the archival effort to collect and preserve the remaining Sesay, we talked about abstract paintings and how
next decade. “As we bring these artists together, Club 57 artifacts that had been squirreled away they can sometimes speak more clearly than the
the exhibition will be a thoughtful and exciting under beds and in closets. This excavation revealed, figuration, and how, perhaps, it is the era we live
thank you to so many people who have helped us in particular, a diverse exploration of gender in that determines which style rules. “The role of
maintain a space that supports emerging talent,” through various art forms and performances. A the viewer in abstract art has always interested
Liner told Juxtapoz. “This component of the art visceral trip down memory lane for the artists me,” Sesay notes. “In my opinion, abstract work
world comes with many challenges, and I hope this involved and visitors alike, the opening events also becomes more dynamic in its function.”
show will accomplish a recognition for all the hard served as a reunion for those who shared in the
work that has gone into creating a successful space club’s vitality, and a memorial for those contributors
for so many artists.” no longer with us. Enter on 53rd street at MoMA’s
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater Galleries for free
entrance to this exhibition. Club 57 will remain on
view until April 01, 2018.

JUXTAPOZ .COM 135


SIEBEN ON LIFE

The Fine Lines


And the Dotted Line
Have you ever seen the movie Role Models? I was totally wrong. After racking my brain for If you do any work as a commercial artist, you're
It's a 2008 comedy starring Paul Rudd and Sean a day or two, I vaguely remembered granting a going to come into contact with contracts, some of
William Scott. The week it came out, numerous set-dressing company permission to use the print which can be quite lengthy, confusing, and tedious.
friends texted, emailed, and called, telling me that in the background for a show on PBS a year or two I urge you, at the very least, to read every line of any
they'd seen my art in the film. I was confused yet, prior. I dug through a slew of folders and located the agreement you sign. If it is a substantial amount
curious, so I bought a ticket to the show. And as contract I had signed for that specific show usage— of money being negotiated, hire an attorney to
rumored, one of my art prints was prominently this time, carefully reading all of the fine print. go through the document. I think Role Models is a
featured in the film during a house-party scene. I was Boom, there it was: I had granted them the rights to pretty funny film, but I'd probably like it even more
obviously excited to see my work on the big screen, use the artwork in any production for an indefinite if it wasn't a reminder that I, myself, was not doing a
but I couldn't help wondering how it made its way amount of time. No one owed me squat. very good job of being a grown up. Don't read it and
into the movie without my permission. I was pretty weep. —Michael Sieben
sure somebody, somewhere owed me some money.

136 WINTER 2018 Above: Art by Michael Sieben


SAFETY
FIRST
SINCE
DAY ONE

PREMIUM
256+ COLORS
HIGHLY OPAQUE
HIGHEST UV- AND

SINCE 1999 WEATHER RESISTANCE


MADE IN GERMANY
POPLIFE SACRAMENTO, JERSEY CITY, NEW YORK CITY

Aftershock Festival
1 Brothers in arms. Run the Jewels
posed for us backstage with their
famed hand logo at the 2017
Aftershock Festival in Discovery Park
in Sacramento.
2 And of course, the man himself,
Trent Reznor, led Nine Inch Nails’
incredible career-spanning headline
set.

Mana Contemporary,
Jersey City
3 As part of Juxtapoz’s annual “Surf
Craft” benefit and auction for Waves
For Water and the Changing Tides
Foundation, Benjamin Keating
opened his metal foundry to show
us his unique interpretation of fine
art surfing.
4 Paul Wackers kicked off the
project with his stunning double-
sided board, arriving at the “Surf
Craft” showing…
5 … and bringing Pat Berran, who
demonstrated that a little abstraction
will look good on the water.
6 Gummies for charity? Brooklyn’s
own Christian Rex van Minnen was
nicknamed “The Wizard” for mind-
blowing work with his surfboard.
7 Juxtapoz editor Evan Pricco and
April 2017 cover artist Timothy Curtis
took a tough stance in front of Curtis’
fresh board.

The Hole, NYC


8 Eric Shaw continues his excellent
streak of works at the opening of his
newest solo show, Trails. Now that
he mentions it, we see trails in that
painting behind him…
9 Meanwhile, former Juxtapoz
featured artist Adam Parker Smith
was all smiles despite naming his
show, Kidnapping Incites Years of
Murderous Doom.

138 WINTER 2018 Photography: Mike Stalter (1–2), Evan Pricco (3–7) and Jessica Ross (8–9)
POPLIFE LOS ANGELES & SAN FRANCISCO

Corey Helford Gallery,


Los Angeles
1 Everyone gets a (D*Face) balloon!
Shepard Fairey and Obey’s Dan
Flores at the opening of D*Face’s
solo show, Happy Never Ending, in
downtown Los Angeles.
2 … Stars of the night, D*Face and
Kristen Liu-Wong, celebrate their
respective openings and perhaps
shared eyewear tips.
3 This is what friends do, they
support one another. Chaz from
London Police gives Risk a bit
of love.
4 This is a crew, and amongst
them, there is a Van Arno, Risk,
Kristen Liu-Wong, Darcy Yates,
Caro, D*Face, Dosshaus, Jan Corey
Helford and Sherri Trahan.

RexRomae Gallery,
Santa Monica
5 Rom Levy of Street Art News
curated and organized a pop-up show
with Norway’s Martin Whatson at
RexRomae Gallery…
6 … and guess what? Soo Yeon Lee,
the South Korean model/international
table tennis champion was there, too!

Copro Gallery,
Santa Monica
7 The Prince of Darkness, but such a
sweet guy, Chet Zar, gave everyone
The Fear at his new solo show at
Copro Gallery.

Chandran Gallery,
San Francisco
8 Guitar. Hero. J Mascis from
Dinosaur Jr was in town for the
opening of Thomas Campbell’s
We Are the Cosmos solo show, and
brought along photographer O,
artist Greta Svalberg and fellow
Dino, Marc Seedorf.

9 Man of the hour and his family:


Thomas Campbell.

10 Here’s looking at you—Miss Van,


Monica Canilao, Richard Colman
and Monique Ramos united for a pic.

11 A San Francisco opening isn't


complete without a little sonic
backdrop from Tommy Guerrero.

140 WINTER 2018 Photography: Birdman Photos (1–7) and Drew Altizer (8–12)
PERSPECTIVE

Pictures On Walls, RIP


The Legendary London Print Shop Stops The Presses
A shudder rattled through the street art world favourite ever job. There were few rules, many anyone I’d met in the art world before, it felt like
on October 12th. London’s legendary print house, hangovers and a sense of, “Fuck it, let’s see if this meeting a group of friends.
Pictures On Walls, announced it was shutting works.” Sometimes there are legendary places, like
down at the end of 2017. True, they’d gone pretty CBGB’s in the ’70s, where you wish you’d been. For I loved the idea that I had complete freedom to
quiet in recent times—admitting themselves that street art, POW was it. Ben Eine used to screen print paint and talk about whatever I wanted to do, and
they should maybe have shuttered things three there, Paul Insect (and the rest of the Insect Studio) they’d say, “Yeah, let’s make it.” It felt like I had
years ago—but they were the OG print house in had a space on the floor above, Mode2 had his own joined a family.
London, the only place to get Banksy prints. The desk in a corner and would come and go. When Pure
place that found artists, launched careers and made Evil was kicked out of the USA, POW helped him But street art became big business and prints
art accessible to everyone. Forums were built and out and he learnt the trade of selling prints. D*Face bought from POW began selling for many times
headlines written about what they did. would pop in and there was a constant passage of their face value, a success that turned disastrous.
visiting artists checking their prints or preparing for The queues for Banksy releases were chaotic, even
Pictures On Walls was set up in 2001 as a kind of a show. There was, more often than not, a Vhils, Blu, violent, and other print houses started appearing,
indie record label by street artists, for street artists, Invader, Hewlett, Faile, Lush or Lister sleeping off diluting the quality of work available. POW was
making art affordable for all. As they would say, “The the night before on the scuzzy sofa… at the forefront of the street art explosion and,
invention of the internet and the cardboard tube arguably, one of the prime facilitators. While
enabled us to circumvent the centuries-old grip of “I got a phone call from Pictures On Walls back in seeming unwilling or uninclined to capitalise on
the established art world and we laid waste to their 2004,” recalls Antony Micallef. “I was asked to come their position, they have, however, remained indie
cronyism and vested interests and good taste. We to their studio in Shoreditch. I remember vividly the until the end. And now they’ve had enough.
delivered a new generation of art directly into people’s first day I walked in. It was like an Aladdin's cave of
homes. Well, the Royal Mail did most of it.” all my favourite art just casually lying around the “I don’t feel like POW is ending in any way,” says
studio. I met Ben Eine and a few of the other guys Pure Evil, “it just feels like its going into a chrysalis
I worked there on and off, rolling prints and carting and immediately thought this is where I want to be. stage and will emerge as a different type of butterfly.
hundreds of tubes to the Post Office. It was my It didn’t feel like walking into a gallery or meeting Thanks guys, you really smashed it.” —Josh Jones

142 WINTER 2018 Above: Pictures on Walls logo. Courtesy of Paul Insect.
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