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.
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.
Hey, you know JR, right? The French street artist who has become something of a worldwide phenom over the past decade?
Yes, that JR. The one who takes black-and-white photos of people, their faces, close-ups of their eyes and mouths, and then prints them up at massive, mega-blown-up scale and wheat-pastes them on the sides of entire buildings, on the roofs of houses and on the sides of trains.
Yes, that’s the JR we’re talking about.
Well, that JR is the subject of some local speculation with regards to a recent work of street art that appeared on fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice Beach. See pic above.
Or, rather, the speculation is about who put up this street art. It has all the makings of “a JR.” But is it? Is it some other artist? Is it a JR wannabe? A copycat?
And who is the subject of this artwork? Is it, as one commenter on our Instagram feed asked, a photo of octagenarian French filmmaker Agnes Varda? The face, the eyes and the haircut — especially the haircut — have all the makings of Varda.
These are questions we want answers to, savvy reader. And we have answers!
The art was put there by JR (or by his assistants / minions / 3rd-party contractor). The image is of Agnes Varda. It’s placement and timing are not an accident.
As some of you savvy readers may already well be aware, JR and Varda collaborated on a documentary film project called “Faces Places.” The film was a critical success and garnered a 2018 Academy Award nomination. The street artwork appeared around the time of the Awards ceremonies in March, which, of course, are held each year in Los Angeles. Varda herself was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy last year.
So there you have it.
Needs. We all have them. And who doesn’t need a “shady palm.” That is, a palm that just doesn’t provide shade, but wears shades. A palm tree that sports sunglasses.
What more could one want? Well, sun-protection eyewear aside, we need a palm tree that can handle a skateboard. A palm that can shred the boardwalk and the skate park.
This small, cartoony wheat-paste street art is a cute visual pun. The artist is New York City-based artist Raddington Falls, a.k.a., “RAD.” Find “Shady Palm” on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles.
Check out more of RAD’s work on this website.
“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” is a lo-fi, black-and-white ‘zine published by Lone Wolfs (sic) Objets de Surf, a surf brand and shop in Venice, Los Angeles, as well as a music production company and studio.
CSOV is more of an art zine than a surf mag and has virtually nothing intrinsically to do with the act of surfing itself or the “sport.” It’s more a mirror reflection and by-product of surf culture and Venice Beach, with endearing surf illustrations and photos and a brief Q&A with former surf-pro and Venice resident Brad Gerlach.
It has no real articles or substantive text in the usual sense, but instead relies more on images and artwork. The overall effect is one of an aesthetic and a vibe, which makes its title all the more apt.
“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” comes off as a vapid, hasty and lazy throw-away of a magazine produced with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, great if inscrutable style, and zero fucks given. Its got the intellectual nutrition value of a Twizzler. But it’s a Twizzler we want to keep chewing over and over and over again.
Junk Food Clothing and Levi’s, the iconic purveyor of denim jeans, had collaborated on a pop-up concept store in Venice, Los Angeles.
The store is located on fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd. and is called Tees & Jeans. It offers customers personalization of the brands’ clothing, which is growing fashion-and-style trend.
In the service of the selling of these clothes, and adding edge to the shop’s collabo idea, is a retail design concept and interior decor that rips from a specific era of Los Angeles’s pop cultural history: Gritty 1980s Venice and the SoCal surf and music scenes as epitomized by an obscure local band called the Surf Punks.
The clothing is sparsely displayed a minimalist space that feels raw, under-decorated and under-produced. But it is very much produced and every detail has been thought through.
These details include the vintage framed black-and-white promotional photos of the Surf Punks, founds objects like traffic road signs, and used surfboards covered in dirty wax and scrawled with graffiti, deftly propped up in a corner of the store. (Yet another example of the over-employed cliche of a surfboard as decorative object in a shop or restaurant, as also seen here.)
You are looking at this photo and you’re thinking “WTF?” Maybe you’re even mouthing the letters as you think them, a just barely audible sound escaping between your lips.
Maybe you’re vocalizing the question with the actual words instead of the initialism: “What the F*ck?!?!” with an emphasis on the last word. (Assuming you’re at work, your co-workers are glancing towards you for a half-second after you utter this.)
All of these are proper, reasonable responses to the subject of the photo pictured here: A hairy, furry beach-cruisey bicycle parked at the bike rack at the popular Superba restaurant in Venice, Los Angeles.
This hirsute bicycle is either a large fashion accessory, a sartorial lifestyle statement piece extended to one’s transport and/or an art project. Perhaps there’s some functionality — the ride is somehow “softer” (?). Perhaps it’s all these things. In any case, it looks as if Chewbacca took the form of bike and sprayed Sun In all over his over-follicled body. Amaze.
Text by Van Corsa
Imagine. You’ve made it. Went to school. Got a job in a tech start-up. Paid off your student debt. Moved to Los Angeles. L.A. Then you got a tech job at another start-up. In Venice, a.k.a., “Silicon Beach.”
That start-up made an app and it got big real fast. You made a shitload of money. Then you MOVED to Venice. Rents insane. Then you BOUGHT in Venice. You found a condo around the corner from fashionable, beautiful and gentrified Abbot Kinney Blvd. Prime real estate. Primo location, bro! Expensive.
This condo, it wasn’t just any condo. Because you’re not just any Silicon Beach scrote. You’re not just another sartorially-challenged techie slacking in basic, comfortable fashion. You are more than just a dude with a closet full of hoodies and New Balance sneakers and the full quiver of video game consoles.
There is street art. There are cliches. And there are street-art cliches (SAC). That said, we think “trope” is the better suited word here rather than the word “cliche.” So, “street-art trope.” (SAT, of course). There are street art tropes! There is, dare we use the term, “tropey” street art. There we said it.
“What are some of these street-art tropes?” you ask, savvy reader? That’s a fair question, if ever there was. There are a few broad categories and types. But the most obvious type, if most flagrant, is the use of cheery pop-cultural icons, often cartoon characters, juxtaposed with some very un-cheery and serious imagery, like a gun.
There’s practically a formula matrix you can follow to create this kind of street art. For example … Continue reading
Like a vintage wine, some street art ages remarkably well. Others not so well.
But it’s showing its age. It’s worn, fading, and a little tattered from the elements. Although the physical integrity of artwork has degraded, it’s actually made the poster more interesting in a way that’s similar to the way patination on a bronze statue gives it more character or the way a pair of Japanese RPM selvedge denim jeans develop a distinct shape, fade and crease when worn everyday and left unwashed for a year.
Part of street art’s magic is that it’s ephemeral. It comes and goes. It disappears. And part of that ephemerality is seeing it age, bearing witness to its slow destruction.
As Fairey’s Venice Beach poster continues to come apart and fade, it’s takes on a new aesthetic. It becomes more beautiful as it degrades and loses the perfection of it’s original state. The artwork is humbled by the elements and by time. Yet it remains a remarkable image and retains the unconventional nature inherent in art that’s “in the streets.”
Looking at it this way is like the Japanese concept of wabi sabi. And yet the core image persists on the landscape, provoking thought , remaining a subject of appreciation.