Monthly Archives: May 2018

RELATIONSHIPS: WHEN STREET ART GETS TOO SEXY

This street artwork of two rabbits in flagrante leaves nothing to the imagination. The relationship between the creatures is raw and natural and strictly an instinctive biological transaction between animals. Rabbits are often depicted as cute and innocent in popular culture. But here they’re engaged in sex, an uncute physical act. It’s rude, but it’s also terribly funny. The indelible graphical image and comic-book style the bunnies are depicted in is in stark contrast to the otherwise utterly forgettable graffiti tags on either side. Find this on a wall next to a vacant lot along Lincoln Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles. 

HIGH-FLYIN’: 800 VIEWS OF AIRPORTS

We — and possibly you, too — are a big fan of large coffee-table art books by the likes of publishers Taschen, Phaidon and Rizzoli, to name but a few. Among our favorite stack of these large tomes is a book by a lesser-known German publisher. It’s a book of photographs by the artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss titled “800 Views of Airports.” And that’s exactly what you get, literally 800 photos taken in airports by the artists over several decades of international air travel. There’s no accompanying text, no explanations, no captions. Just photographs of airports, airplanes, tarmac vehicles, control towers and views looking out of windows from air-terminal boarding lounges around the globe. The book is a mesmerizing document of the airport’s cultural landscape. For those who have traveled widely and often by air, the images in this book may feel in their own way comforting.

VEHICULAR: THE COBRA SNAKE VAN

Wait … what? The Cobra Snake van is parked on ultra-luxe Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles? Actually we’ve seen the van parked here for the past year. ( Our HQ is a few blocks away in the NOT ultra-luxe part of Santa Monica.) Who knew the Cobra Snake was so bougie?

ARCHITORTURE: ART-DECO MOVIE THEATER MAKES US WONDER IF WE’VE GONE BACK IN TIME

The Aero movie theater on tony Montana Avenue on Santa Monica’s northside is a Los Angeles treasure. A working cinema and a venue for retrospective film events, the Aero is a perfectly intact example of classic art-deco architecture and style. It’s a landmark that at night lights up its marquee and neon lights, a look that harkens back to a bygone era of L.A. and classic Hollywood.

STREETSY: ELECTRICAL UTILITY BOX AS CANVAS

The electrical utility box is a feature of the built-up urban landscape in many U.S. cities. These boxes tend to be rectangular gray objects standing upright on sidewalks and are mostly featureless, neutral occupants of public space. What better a blank canvas is there for street artists to showcase their work, illicit or commissioned. In parts of Los Angeles, especially in the westside neighborhoods of Venice and Mar Vista, it appears almost every utility box is covered with street art or graffiti. The art is often colorful and inoffensive, adding a dash of color to the gray and black hues of the city streets and pavement.

 

DIVINE KIM KARDASHIAN AND SAINT / NORTH

This simple photographic wheat-paste street art in Venice, Los Angeles, depicts Kim Kardashian with, we assume, one of her two children (Saint or North West-Kardashian). In this image, she appears saintly, head wrapped in a manner like the late Mother Teresa. Kardashian may have once seemed an unlikely celebrity and pop-cultural phenom. The reality-TV star initially rose to notoriety on the heels of a leaked homemade sex tape back in the 2000s. Since then she has transcended from her role as TV celeb of dubious talent to an international beauty and fashion icon. She married hip-hop megastar Kanye West and bore her children with him. Recently she has become a vocal advocate for prison reform going so far as to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump to make the case for issuing a pardon on behalf of a convicted drug offender. Her profile is slowly changing. Perhaps motherhood, success, experience and a relentless media presence have led to an awareness of how to wield her influence, her megaphone, for a greater cause.

CONFUSED: LUMBER YARD OR ART MUSEUM?

The answer to the question is  …. art museum, obviously. Specifically the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles. The logs you see pictured here not actually lumber but rather utility poles that for decades stood along the streets of Limassol on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.  When changes in technology rendered these obsolete, the poles were removed. The artist Christodoulos Panayiotou’s acquired these as a kind of readymade, found objects and material for this artwork, titled “Independence Street.”

ALL THE FEELS WRIT LARGE

This poignant street art, if it can be called that (we think it qualifies), is essentially poetry painted in black, handwritten cursive style on an back-alley gate in Venice, Los Angeles.

SNEAKERS : ARTIST DUMPS USED KICKS ON FLOOR, INSTANTLY CREATES CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED MASTERPIECE

Hey, you! Yes, YOU! You, the savvy reader of this blog. In case you did not know it, you are an artist!

Well, to clarify, if you aren’t, then you can be. Instantly! Yes, INSTANTLY! What if we were to say that you can be an artist within minutes, if not seconds?  

You don’t believe us. Well, let’s a try a little experimental exercise in art production. You have a pair of sneakers, yes? (If you don’t, that’s fine — for this exercise any type of footwear will suffice.) Ok, now grab those sneakers or loafers or mules or flips-flops or whatever, in fact grab a few pairs, as many as you can muster up really. Got ‘em? Great!

Now find some empty floor space, preferably bleached hardwood floor space and pick a spot near a wall, preferably a white wall. Place those pairs of shoes there, and by “place” we mean just dump the shoes on the floor and leave these as they lie when dropped.

And voila, you, savvy ready, have just created a work of art. In fact, it’s a conceptual artwork. It’s kind of like the artwork titled “Skin” by the awesome Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch pictured in this post. (It’s was recently on view as part of the wonderful and cheeky “Stories of Almost Everyone” exhibition of conceptual art at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.)

You see, you are an artist! (To be more precise, you are conceptual artist!) Great job!

The real artistry here is in the next step: Getting somebody to pay you for this artwork, or at least to devote exhibition space to it.  

Of course, you can always just call the space you dropped those shoes a “gallery” and you’re now an artist with a gallery show. Look at you! You’ve come so far in just a few short minutes.

 

STREETSY : STENCIL STREET ART NOT DEAD, APPARENTLY

Stencil street art seems like it’s everywhere these days. It wasn’t always so. There was a time when mere graffiti art was put up either using cans of aerosol spray paint or for early graphical street art as poster sheets stuck on to walls using buckets of wheat paste and a brush.

The first use of stencils to create artwork allowed creators to much more quickly put up spray-painted works with more detail and graphical realism. Banksy was not the first to use stencils but much of his body of artwork uses elaborate stencils and the stenciled image is associated with his style. Using stencils made it so that he (he, she, they, whoever Banksy really is) could put art on walls in mere minutes if not seconds, thereby minimizing risk of detection by authorities.

The stencil may seem played-out now. Though the means of creation is not the artwork itself, stenciled street art has a distinct aesthetic quality. But unless the street artwork is super compelling, we’re a little jaded when it comes to seeing a stenciled work. The look is old, but the possibilities of its aesthetic potency remain undiminished.

Stencil street art is not dead, apparently.

The wheat-pasted stenciled artwork pictured here is rendered in red paint and shows a hand clasping a flower, possibly a rose. It’s in Venice, in Los Angeles, and it’s simple and poignant. What does it mean? You tell us.

SPACES: HIPSTER-MEXICO SURF CHIC

Salt Fish Surf Co is a surfy boutique in Venice, in Los Angeles, run by the effusive and friendly French surfer Romaine Goudinoux, who designs and sells branded t-shirts, caps, accessories, and leather-and-fabric surfboard bags hand-crafted in Mexico. But, to be clear, his  small second-floor store is not a surf shop. In fact, Salt Fish hardly feels like retail space at all, but rather a beautiful shabby-chic, hipster-surfer living room (dubbed “La Casa Saltfish“). It’s fillwd with Mexican blankets and rugs and a few surfboards propped up amid a tiny selection of merch for sale.  The space and vibe is so cozy and chill that you don’t ever want to leave.

 

DESIGN FOR DANGER

How do you sufficiently inform people of danger? Usually warning signs use visually strong graphical elements and bold lettering in all caps and bright colors — reds, oranges and yellows. But sometime the opposite can attract the same attention: Clean, sober and ultra -plain signage can get the idea across that the message is both important and serious, and can provide official credibility. Last week we went surfing at San Onofre Beach, an historically and culturally significant surf spot about an hour and a half south of Los Angeles. A shark had been spotted earlier in the morning and  California state beach authorities planted warning lines (pictured here) along the beach. The signage certainly looks official and the design is a simple black-and-white graphical treatment with a universally understandable icon of a shark swimming below the waterline.  It at a distance, a casual view of the sign doesn’t convey danger in an obvious way. If the sign hadn’t been planted precisely in front of where we had parked and camped out for the beach day, we wouldn’t have seen it at all.