Common Room

The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a mysterious gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and  secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.

“L’Essence”

This 2007 sculptural object by artist Jimmie Durham is a bold assemblage of red oil drums, canvas, acrylic, PVC and an old wooden boat the artist found in Lisbon, Portugal. The title “L’essence” is the French word for gasoline. The boat seems to be afloat atop the metal oil barrels. The artwork is currently on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, part of a retrospective of Durham’s work.

“Skull Phone” Street Art by Spazmat

For years we would see the wheat-pasted artwork of artist Spazmat posted around downtown New York City. His posters were unmissable. His street art was comprised of an iconic image: An illustrated portrait of a skeleton with a cell phone in its bony hand held up to the skull as if talking on the phone. The posters were usually rendered in a stark white on black. Informally dubbed as “Skull Phone,” the image suggested many things, among these the dangers of technology.  We hadn’t seen Spazmat’s artwork in many years until we recently saw one of his skull phone wheaties on a utility box along Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. This one was printed in blue and white with a striped design, almost nautical in style and fitting for its location a few meters across the road from the ocean. 

The Electrifying Installations of Artist Jason Rhoades

We’re posting a few pix here from the sprawling and electrifying “Jason Rhoades Installations, 1994-2006” exhibition at the massive Hauser & Wirth gallery in the Arts District near downtown Los Angeles. We visited this retrospective of Rhoades work last weekend and were blown away by his darkly beautiful and daring art installations. If you have time and are in L.A., we can’t highly recommend enough that you see this show.

 

Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit

Last week, we stumbled upon this vintage copy of Yoko Ono’s influential 1964 conceptual-art book “Grapefruit.” It was in a display case arranged with various jewelry, accessories and other small objet at General Store in Venice, Los Angeles. The cool-as-fuck book cover has a black-and-white photo of Ono and titles in a lower-case serif typography of a style that has  re-surfaced in recent years in the indie magazine and graphic design worlds. The book itself is not so much an artwork as it is a collection of instructions for creating specific performance art pieces and media, a legit artificat from art’s Fluxus movement of the 1960s in downtown New York, where Ono established herself as a leading figure.