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.
The street art of the artist who goes by the moniker Made of Hagop never ceases to impress us with the aesthetic vision of his work. We recently came across this newer piece in Venice.
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.
Talk about piling on. We snapped this pic in the back alley (are there other kinds?) than runs behind row of fashionable shops on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles. It shows mostly wheat-paste street art (a.k.a., “wheaties”) by what appears different artists.
It’s a real mix of content and subject matter and visual styles. There’s a half-ripped yellow poster of a lone eye looking out at you. There’s a wheatie image of a man wearing a tie — a “businessman,” perhaps — with his hand on his forehead as if weeping or experiencing a massive migraine headache. Perhaps he’s a day trader who has just lost everything.
There’s a small cut-out of a silhouetted person riding a bicycle through the sky with a loaded basket — the iconic image from the film “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” There’s a poster of some comically drawn sketchy dude wearing a beanie and smoking something, maybe a spliff.
These paste-ups are across a set of doors to a storage cabinets covered in painted graffiti that appears as weathered abstract lines. We love stuff like this, when a spot gets bombed with a lot of different piece or artwork
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.)
Sooooooo … Spanto is a Kook. “Who is Spanto? Why is he a kook?” you ask, savvy reader. These are fair questions. We want to know who Spanto is, too! Spanto’s identity is an esoteric, hyper-local mystery, which makes the graffiti on this condemned house in Venice, in Los Angeles, all the more intriguing.
A kook, on the other hand, is less a mystery. The word is not obscure. But it’s not used as often in general discourse as it may have been several generations ago. “Kook” in the pictured graffiti is not being used in way that it might be generally understood as synonymous with “crazy person” or “weirdo.” There is another altogether different meaning here.
This other meaning may be more obscure to most people. “Kook” is surfer jargon. Though slangy, the term is not new. It’s been hurled as an insult by surfers for many decades. In short, for surfers “kook” means an inexperienced, often poorly-skilled surfer who’s surfing style and manner reveal a naivete or ignorance of surfing rules, etiquette, techniques and customs.
Venice being a beach town and a surfers town with a strong surfer identity and a gritty surfing heritage, no doubt Spanto — whoever he (or she) is — is being slurred with a surfer’s invocation of “kook.”
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.