Category Archives: Urban Life

ESSENTIAL LIGHT BEDTIME READING

The latest issues of the magazines Monocle, the Surfer’s Journal, and — most exciting — Juxtapoz with photo of recent artwork by KAWS. Got the bases covered here: Art, design, and surfing. Only thing missing is a cup of espresso, but we try to avoid coffee before bedtime! Haha! 😉

“NOH”

“Noh” is a poster designed by Los Angeles-based Japanese designer Takenobu Igarashi. Using a mix of Roman and Japanese characters, and referencing the traditional Japanese noh theater genre, Igarashi’s design looks like graffiti art at first glance. The poster was designed for the Asian Performance Arts Institute at UCLA in 1981. The aesthetic was way ahead of its time and has a futuristic dimension that was prescient of design trends to come in the decades that followed.

GRAVEYARD OF WORDS

Did you know that words can die? It’s true. This stencil street art on the pavement in Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, is a virtual cemetery of words like “Cool,” “Art,” “Truth, and “Reality.” Each world has its own gravestone and years. Of course, most of these words are far from dead. But perhaps some more than others are on their way to dying sooner than later. The larger point is perhaps that the meaning of these words are in a state of flux or open to question in our current culture (e.g., “reality”), especially given the political rhetoric and circumstances of the Times.

ARTIST GUSTAVO ZERMENO‘S AWESOME “NEED $ FOR RENT” STREET ARTWORK

Don’t we all? Don’t we all need money for rent, in some way, at some time? At least, don’t most of us? Like the man portrayed in this street art, most of us need to pay rent or mortgage and/or HOA fees. The artwork is by artist Gustavo Zermeno and painted on the wall of a popular bar along Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, Los Angeles. It’s a wry commentary on the cost if living in America’s second megalopolis.

At present in Los Angeles, there’s simultaneously a housing shortage and a building boom that can’t construct new housing fast enough to meet rising demand. Housing prices and rents have skyrocketed in the past few years. Perhaps nowhere is more emblematic of ridiculously expensive rents than Venice, the one-time rundown beach town on L.A.’s westside that has been thoroughly gentrified the past decade.

A few blocks inland from the beach, Abbot Kinney Blvd. serves as an expensive, bougie-hipster main drag cutting through the heart of Venice proper. It’s home to fashionable restaurants, cafes and boutiques for luxury brands big and small, and attracts tons of tourists.

The narrow boulevard is named after the property developer of Venice. In the late 19th Century, Abbot Kinney had a vision for a beach town, inspired by Venice, Italy, and its canals and architecture, that would be a cultural and recreational mecca. Kinney probably never imagined a Venice that would someday become a seaside slum nor — after gentrification — the epicenter of “Silicon Beach” tech and media companies. Nor did he likely imagine the vast sums of money people are willing to spend now to live there now.

Which brings us back to Zermeno’s street artwork. The man depicted in the painting is Mr. Abbot Kinney himself.

CLOUDY: SKYWRITING “#AMERICA”

Look up in the sky! It’s … it’s a … it’s a hashtag! Yes, right there, in the air, under the scorching mid-day sun, in our view, it’s a gosh-darn hashtag — skywriting of #AMERICA — letters fading and floating apart, ephemeral, as we walk the back streets of Venice in Los Angeles on July Fourth, America’s Independence Day holiday.