BRAZEN: CELEBRITY STREET ARTIST DEFIES NATURE AND PCH TRAFFIC TO PUT UP ARTWORK

We spent last weekend on a surf trip in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties north of Los Angeles. On the way back to LA, as we drove sun-kissed and exhausted along Pacific Coast Highway (a.k.a., PCH) and we neared scenic Santa Monica, we spotted the mysterious, blank gaze of Andre the Giant on a busted-up retaining wall built into the side of the cliffs.

Artist Shepard Fairey and/or his minions/interns/assistants had struck this beautiful stretch of beachside paradise with his classic and iconic street artwork, a poster often called “Obey” or “Obey the Giant,” but originally called “Giant Has a Posse.”

This is the meme-marketing experiment-as-design-turned-art that launched the career of Shepard Fairey back in the early 1990s. For a few years, the extreme close-up face of late professional wrestler Andre the Giant, as he was known, was everywhere in the form of this artwork put up on walls as wheat-pasted posters and stickers. That visage of Andre has found it’s way woven into many other pieces of artwork by Fairey since then.

But since the mid-2000s, it seem Andre’s face has been seen less and less, as the subject matter and focus of Fairey’s work has gradually shifted toward more politically-tinged realistic representations of people in his own distinct and adorned graphical style.

So this poster on PCH was a bit of a surprise for its being the original, classic “Obey” design and its scale, as well as its unusual location. Santa Monica doesn’t have a lot of illicit street art, and along this part of PCH there are few potential blank canvases for such artwork to be put.

The retaining wall is perfect, but it’s hard to reach given its situation on the side of a cliff on a side of PCH that has no easy pedestrian access. Plus there’s the neverending stream of speeding highway traffic to contend with. There was a chainlink fence blocking access to the spot too, but the fence has been mangled down freeing up a path. Putting up such a large piece of artwork here isn’t easy.

The context of Fairey’s artwork is unusual too. It’s not the usual cityscape setting. Aside from the dilapidated wall, the artwork is on the outward appearance, set in an un-urbanized environment — tucked into a beautiful coastal bluff flanked by palm trees, plants, dried brush and multi-million-dollar beachfront mansions. On viewing, there’s a brief moment of cognitive dissonance.

Soooooooo … full marks to Mr. Fairey!

KNOWLEDGE: STREET ART EXPLAINS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FINANCE AND LOVE

Art can do many things. It can provoke, teach, offend, inform, comfort, inspire, scare, stimulate and bond us.

Street art, can possibly do even more things. Its public nature — in “the streets” —  gives it more reach and exposure to a much larger, broader audience than most of the art confined to the indoors of a museum or gallery. That said, most of the audience exposed to street art do not care for street art.

That public may not “get it” nor like it nor think of it as “art,” but as they drive by or walk by street art, they cannot unsee it (at least not without some kind of head-trauma induced amnesia or decades of expensive professional psychological counseling).

In this way, street art is like a billboard, or what people in the ad agency business called “OOH” for “out of home” advertising.

So any explicit message contained in the street artwork has as much power or influence as a billboard, which itself may be inconsequential or great depending on the content, images and message. In any case, while that influence can be hard to precisely measure, nobody is in doubt, however, about its visibility and potential.

Occasionally street art, or art in general, imparts some gem of wisdom and understanding in the viewer. Often, depending on the media, it’s nuanced, subject to interpretation and open to speculation. But sometimes it’s clearly stated, expressed using the power and clarity of the written word, relying more on text than image.

No money, No honey” (our comma) is the message in the stencil street art pictured here on a stretch of pavement in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The stenciled art provides a pithy, hyper-concise breakdown of the relationship between purchase power and sex (preferably of the hot kind).

The statement is a generally understood observation, and an unethical and shameful popular notion, that has existed since the beginning of time. To put it another way, it’s saying there’s a relationship between money and love, or the facsimile of love.

Is there a real-world example that might illustrate this relationship? Why, yes, there is, savvy reader! Yes, there is!

Take the case of Melania and Donald Trump. Melania here is the “honey” in the equation. The Donald has the “money.” If Donald does not have the money, it’s quite likely he wouldn’t have the “honey” (that’s Melania — c’mon folks follow along!). Because, really … Melania would give up the honey for this without the money?

Under any circumstances, the image of Melania giving up the honey for Donald Money is something we can’t unsee. It’s like street art. Or a billboard. Or street art ON a billboard. A really frightening billboard. 

RADICAL: ARTIST SELF-PORTRAIT REVEALS POSSIBLE IDENTITY CRISIS

When you hear the words “self-portrait” you think painting or image by an artist or photographer of him or her self. In modern parlance, that’s a selfie, if you will.

It’s straightforward. A picture … of your self, by your self. Usually, there’s just one of you. It’s pretty narrowly defined.

Unless you’re the Venezuelan artist who goes by the name Marisol, who has recently blown our mind with her sculptural artwork titled “Self-Portrait.” Back in the ancient times of the late 1960s she created a three-dimensional selfie in wood that expresses seven versions of herself. Yes, SEVEN!

Now you, savvy reader, may be thinking what we’re all thinking here now, that this reveals some fucked-up shit. You may be right about that or you may be completely wrong.

You may be formulating an off-the-cuff interpretation that the artwork is telling you the artist had an identity crisis of some sort. You may be right. Or not.

You may be thinking, “What kind of wood is that? That wood is beautiful! Can I find that type of wood at a Home Depot?” And, ok, sure, whatever, that’s fine. 

Marisol’s wood sculpture may well indeed be a self-portrait of a troubled mind or an expression of multiple identities. But aren’t we all at any given moment just revealing one facet of the many versions of our inherently complicated human selves? 

Marisol’s artwork brilliantly gives us pause for thought, perhaps even grave concern coupled with a heady stew of awe and wonderment. Perhaps it even raises questions we never thought we’d ask, like Does our healthcare plan cover the cost of professional counseling? (And, if so, what’s the co-pay?)”

But seriously, that all said, real mental health issues are nothing to joke about.

Back to the artwork at hand. In an interesting twist, three of the depictions of Marisol’s face are close representations of the artist’s actual likeness, and in this way capture various states of her real physical appearance.

The other “portraits” are mysterious, weird, more deeply subject to interpretation and disturbing, and a little grotesque. These look nothing like the artist but instead suggest a more complicated expression of her intention, her personality and state of mind.

The sculpture could also be interpreted as a catalog of roles the artist plays or roles that have been assigned to her by a society and culture at the time that could be seen as more patriarchal and chauvinistic than it is today.

“Self-Portrait” is on view as one of hundreds of artworks by various Latin American women artists at the Hammer Museum called “Radical Woman: Latin American Art, 1960-1985.”

Like with all great artwork, “Self-Portrait” makes the viewer ask questions and search for answers we may never know. We become more curious. In trying to understand what it all means, we look for context, we want to know about the artist, her experiences, her points of view and background. We look for patterns and clues in her other works.

So who is Marisol? She may be one of the most important pop artists you’ve never heard of. Her full name was Marisol Esobar, and she passed away in 2016 while living in New York City. She’s included in the Hammer exhibition as a Latina artist, but she was born in France to Venezuelan parents who spent many years in Europe, traveling frequently there and in the U.S. and Venezuela before settling in the States.

Reading her biography, two things stand out about her background. One, her parents died while Marisol was still a child. She eventually spent most of her formative teenage years at boarding schools in New York and Los Angeles. The second thing is that she was a deeply religious Catholic. 

No doubt these experiences informed her body of work over a career that spanned six decades.

. . . . . .

ロサンゼルスのハンマー美術館でベネズエラのアーティストMarisol Escobarによる木彫り。アートワークのタイトルは「セルフポートレート」です。アートワークは、1960年から1985年の間にラテンアメリカの女性が作ったアートワークの展示品です。

DEAD PRINT MEDIA: THE NEW ISSUE OF APARTAMENTO MAGAZINE ARRIVES AND WE’RE GIDDY

There are few things in life that make us positively giddy with excitement. These few things are …

  • Good waves and the promise of good surfing;
  • A quad-shot espresso in a cup filled to the top with ice first thing on a hot, humid morning, preferably near a beach with good waves and the promise of good surfing;
  • Experiencing a bold, massive-scaled and amazing art installation, preferably after quad-shot espresso, good waves, good surfing, etc.;
  • Boarding a plane bound for a foreign country, especially after seeing amazing artwork, quad-shot espresso, good waves, surfing blah blah blah;
  • And … seeing a new, freshly printed issue of Apartamento magazine sitting neatly on the table at HQ.

The smell of the magazine’s thick, expensive paper stock can practically be sensed from a few meters away, which is like foreplay to thumbing through its pages.

Print media dead? Dying maybe, but not dead. In some cases, print media is positively thriving. For a few years now we’ve been in a new golden age of  excellent independent print magazines. For for some magazines, the content is such that it is best experienced in print.

. . . . .

最近は楽しいものがいくつかあります。私たちがApartamento誌の新版を見ると、とても幸せになれます。この雑誌はインテリアインテリア、アート、デザインに関するもので、美しいものです。内容は英語ですが、スペインとイタリアの編集者やデザイナーが作成しています。

Mysterious: Why “Judith” is Painted on an LA Warehouse Door

The “Judith” in question here is artist Judith Bernstein. The roller shutter with her name painted on it in a rough handwritten style is at the influential art gallery the Box in the Art District of Los Angeles, where Bernstein has had many exhibitions.

Shocker: “Flooded McDonalds” Video Forces Rubes to Question What is “Art”?

Question: Have you ever had a dream where you were in your favorite fast-food dining establishment and suddenly it starts flooding?

Have you ever entertained the thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if Burger King got flooded?”

Is it — or has it ever been — your burning desire to see a KFC deluged to the rafters?

Have you wondered aloud (or in private, for that matter) what it would be like if McDonalds was overrun with a rushing torrent of H20?

You have? (Uh, really, you have?). Ok.

Well, guess what, kids, the short film “Flooded McDonalds” is for YOU!

Created by artist collective Superflex, “Flooded McDonalds” documents the flooding of what appears to be an actual, operational McDonalds restaurant.

At first the restaurant is shown as totally ghosted, dry and in its ordinary state but devoid of customers and staff, as if everyone who was there suddenly rushed off in a panic. There are still trays of food on tables and just-prepared burgers in wrappers in the kitchen.

Then slowly we see a little bit of water seeping through under a door. Over the next ten minutes or so the water rises, as we anticipate and bear witness to the various affects of the water on the restaurant’s interior.

Chairs get moved around, a ubiquitous Ronald McDonald statue is lifted by the tide and eventually gets toppled and ends up floating aimlessly. Some things sink, some things float. A pot of coffee still filled to the brim moves like a bouncy submarine through the flood waters. Cash registers and backlit signs short circuit.

The film is mesmerizing, strangely compelling, and positively droll. At times, it is laugh-out-loud funny, though there there are no jokes.

In fact, the film has no dramatic music, no dialogue, no explanation, nothing but the arrival of more water into what is actually a faithful and convincing reproduction of a working McDonalds restaurant.

“Flooded McDonalds” is entertaining with a nod and a wink. And it is absolutely and truly, to use a favored expression of critics everywhere, “thought-provoking.”

It forces the viewer to ask questions, and not just the kinds of “They call that ‘art’?”- or “What the hell is that?”-type questions that the non-art-appreciating rubes from the sticks would ask.

No, no, you, savvy reader, are pondering thoughtful questions like What the fuck does this say about globalization or the impacts of massive corporations on the environment? Or something like that.

The film draws viewers in with the familiar. The “golden arches” of the McDonalds logo are among the few graphic symbols easily grasped by almost every living human on the planet.

This locks in your attention and forces you the viewer to consider the impending disaster. You know what’s coming, but how exactly it’s going to unfold is the burning question on everybody’s mind.

Eventually, the McDonalds is submerged and destroyed by the deluge, which has now become a filthy stew of flotsam and half-sunken debris. The film captures the event from various camera angles, including from under the water.

This may be art and as such a fiction, but we can only imagine that what we see in the film is how it recently must have played out in real-life in places like Houston, Texas, which experienced massive flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey and where no doubt there are many McDonalds.

“Flooded McDonalds” was first exhibited in London in 2010, but the film is now showing on a loop at the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles and you can watch an edited behind-the-scenes version online below. GO SEE IT!

Superflex: Why We Flooded McDonald’s from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

Revealed: Pablo Picasso was “Bad Hombre”

There’s that famous song by every hipster-music-nerd’s favorite band the Modern Lovers with the remarkable observation that Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest artists of all time, was “never called an asshole.” 

We highly doubt this. But put that aside for a moment and assume that, in fact, the artsy Spaniard was never called an asshole.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t — as Trump might say — “a bad hombre.”

The street artist collective that works under the moniker Decisions & Review has put up this fresh artwork depicting Picasso wearing a cowboy hat and brandishing a pistol. He looks like a badass, albeit an artsy badass.

It’s food for thought, which is maybe why the word “think” is painted above Pablo’s head.

So what does it all mean? It means Pablo was a bad hombre. And, let’s face it, he probably an was asshole, too, even if you accept that he was never called that. (But we assure you, he was called that. Maybe not to his face everyday, but often.)

What do you think? What’s your interpretation of this artwork? Tell in the comments section below! We really want to know!