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.
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.
The hyper-aesthetically single-minded and stylistically dialed-in guys who started Lone Wolfs (sic), a surf shop and brand in Los Angeles, are also musical creative types with bona fide pedigrees in music composition and production for big-brand advertising campaigns.
Behind their Venice surf shop, there’s a full-blown recording studio. It’s called Wolf at the Door. And it is sick, dope, boss, fire, Bible, lit AF, etc.
We recently got a private tour and chance to spend some quality time appreciating the studio spaces filled with musical instruments, mixing boards, gadgetry, gear and good lighting. We were enraptured in the presence of such a cool and fun space.
We won’t lie, savvy reader, we did indeed experience many emotions upon feasting our eyes on this studio.
One feeling welled up most strongly: Lust. We were wholly possessed by a powerful urge to just pick up guitars, turn on amps and start making sounds, leaning hard into indulgent audiofile ecstasy.
Just look at these pictures we posted here (below)! LOOK! Don’t these just make you want to start a band right now?!?!?
“I don’t play a musical instrument and I can’t sing,” you plead.
What? Are you kidding?!?! That’s no excuse. It doesn’t matter. Start that fucking band right now! Do it!
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.
The crowd of people snapping pix on the sidewalk along fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, in Los Angeles, seem for a moment like the scrum of paparazzi feasting on the presence of a mid-level Kardashian exiting the Chateau Marmont Hotel on a tipsy Friday night. But this is not the case.
All these folks, with their iPhones held aloft, dangerously stepping backward a few paces into the street and the path of oncoming vehicles, holding up sidewalk foot traffic, are taking pix of a piece of hyper-Instagramable street art by the artist Kelsey Montague. The artwork is beautiful and worth the pic, for sure.
Part of its appeal though is less aesthetic and more for the pure visual gimmick. For many, the allure is to be photographed standing in front of the artwork, positioned carefully between the two “wings.” So it looks like they have wings! Get it? Aaaaahh! So cuuuuuuuuuuuute!
The flow of moneyed (and/or credit-card debt laden) hipsters and tourists navigating the narrow pavement on this stretch of Abbot Kinney slows to a crawl as people pause to take photos or try to not accidentally photo-bomb somebody’s pic by walking into frame. There’s a bit of polite if determined jostling that goes on. It amounts to a kind of ephemeral, accidental choreography that, coupled with all the casual apologies, can be more mesmerizing to view than the artwork itself.
Meanwhile, cars slow down on the already tortoise-paced boulevard. Somebody driving by in a douchey banana-yellow Porsche 911 convertible audibly laments about “Fucking Millennials!” and a 30-something couple pushing a double-wide Bugaboo baby stroller, frustrated but sheepish, try their best to thread their way through the masses on the sidewalk.
The mural is in keeping with a series of “What Lifts You” (#whatliftsyou, of course) paintings of butterfly-like wings Montague has been creating for years on walls all over the world. It’s become the thing she’s known for.
These detailed paintings are comprised largely of imagery drawn from the natural world, an assortment of flowers and leaves fashioned into the shape of wings. On the streetscape, it adds a wonderful touch of beauty and whimsy, turning yet another small patch of the world into an Instagram set piece.
(By the way, if you’re wondering how there’s nobody in the photo above, we took our pic on a slow Monday evening in the hot nano-sec between passersby. Luck. #blessed AF!)
Mollusk is the wonderful name of a wonderful surf shop in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. It’s one of three such shops – the others are in San Francisco and the LA neighborhood of Silver Lake. These locations should tell you a lot about Mollusk. There’s a willfully underplayed and potent hipster factor at work here, and the shop has got a reputation for being intimidatingly cool for a certain subset of young adult and teenage surfers, who can sometimes be found lingering outside, tentative before entering this small but influential shrine of good-taste surf retail. (Clearly these kids have issues, but, hey, that’s on the kids, right?)
Mollusk is no ordinary surf shop and thank god for that, because comparatively speaking most shops suck in their seen-one-you’ve-most-certainly-seen-them-all ordinariness. Mollusk has fucking style. The gang that run it have taste, grit, and a keenly curated collection of hand-shaped surfboards. This taste extends to the decor and the artwork of the shop, like the painting pictured below of an unbearably cute if freakish half-furry creature and half-neoprene-clad humanoid surfer smoking a pipe while cruising a wave. The artwork is in the surfboard loft of the Venice shop, and it speaks thick volumes about Mollusk’s style.
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.
British-born artist Jules Muck (a.k.a., “Muckrock“) painted a portrait of recent U.S. Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders on the side of a white van, seen in the photos here parked on a residential side street in Venice, Los Angeles.
Muckrock’s street art and murals are a fixture of the LA’s westside landscape, especially in the neighborhoods around Venice Beach, where the artist lives. There’s also a bird painted next to Bernie on the van, but the significance of the small winged creature escapes us. That only the head of Sanders was painted — aside from the bird — and that the van is like a blank canvas, serves to further draw the viewer in and focuses attention on the subject.
. . . . .
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: A Global Graphica reader pointed out the significance of the bird in this artwork. It’s a reference to “birdie sanders” and an incident in early 2016 when then presidential candidate Sanders was giving a campaign speech and a small bird landed on his podium. We remember the event, but admit we totally missed this reference when we saw this street art!!! This helpful reader also pointed out that the bird depicted in the artwork is a White-crowned Sparrow, not the same type of bird that landed on Bernie’s podium. (Many thanks, Jerry!)
On another note, another reader pointed out that this mural brings another layer to the literal meaning of the word “VANdalism.” Hahaha.
As always we weclome reader feedback, suggestion, corrections and inquires via email. Thanks!
Here’s another one of the many “Bleeding Hearts” murals in Los Angeles by British artist JGoldcrown’s also called “Lovewall.” The one pictured here is near trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. The background color of these murals is usually white, and this one was until recently when it was repainted with a black background instead. Fresh.
This wheat-pasted street art of two dogs is awesomely colorful and cute. It’s also tiny, smaller than the palm of a hand. It’s miniature street art, which is cool. But it would be even cooler if it was the size of a small building, because the artwork itself is beautifu and could have such great impact at a larger scale. The artwork is in an alley behind Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles.
The logo for Intelligentsia Coffee’s “Black Cat” Espresso is the head of a black cat. It’s a bold and literal graphic with class and style, rendered so that the cat’s head is seen from a 3/4-angle, giving it some visual dimensionality.
Intelligentsia has put the Black Cat logo on some of the various cups and saucers it uses at its various architecturally-inspired cafes. Transferring the branding across these is a straightforward 1:1 application of the literal logo. Sometimes, whether you’re drinking Black Cat espresso or not, you get your coffee served in one of these Black Cat-branded cups, and these look pretty cool.
But Intelligentsia has also created some variations of the logo and occasionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll get your coffee served in a black ceramic cup and saucer, where the Black Cat logo is rendered in a lightened gold hue. It’s elegant its knocked-out contrast to the black ceramic.
When you get your cappucino served with this black cup and saucer set, it’s kind of special. The black and gold add another layer of smart sophistication and a dash of mystique to the brand. That the cat is in gold instead of black is a deft touch that, for those familiar with the usual logo presentation, may be seen as an aesthetically clever and playful twist on a familiar and already likeable and strong visual cue.
All this further supports the larger Intelligentsia Coffee brand and reinforces the company’s reputation for great design and well-defined sense of style, whether expressed in the architectural design of its cafes or the form factor of its ceramic mugs or the high-graphical aesthetic of its coffee packaging and t-shirts.