Curbs and Stoops Literary: Bullet Points

June 23rd, 2011 by Robin Grearson

Editor’s note: This essay will appear in a jour­nal pub­lished by Brook­lyn writ­ers’ col­lec­tive 1441, of which Robin Grear­son is a mem­ber. When Robin offered us the oppor­tu­nity to pub­lish the essay online, we knew its lit­er­ary style was dif­fer­ent from what our read­ers are used to. But there was no deny­ing how good it was, and no deny­ing that it explores art acces­si­bil­ity in a pow­er­ful way. So we are excited to present her newest work to our read­ers, and we look for­ward to more ven­tures into unique, per­sonal art writ­ing in the future. This essay also marks the first of many upcom­ing projects that blend visual and lit­er­ary arts.

bulletpoint1 Curbs and Stoops Literary: Bullet Points

1. Steal my idea, please.

Late one night a few weeks ago, around 3:30 am, I woke up from a dream, sob­bing. I’ve never done that before. The bound­aries between life and death, indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive uncon­scious: I don’t know, to me some­times they’re spongy, prone to a lit­tle osmo­sis. So even while I was still dream­ing about my grand­mother, it felt more like some kind of visit from her. In the con­text of the dream, she was dying. That sucked. In real life, she died two years ago. Which had also sucked. In the dream, I was cradling her tiny shriv­eled body in my arms, com­fort­ing her as she faded out of one world and per­haps began com­ing to life in another. Together we were reliv­ing her dying all over again, just the two of us, as it had been. But in the dream, she was hold­ing on to me right back, her strength much greater than what her gos­samer frame could sup­port, and she was fiercely beseech­ing me (I know, but that’s exactly what she was doing, really, she was beseech­ing me) to lis­ten to her.

You know I love you, don’t you, Robin?,” she kept ask­ing me, force­fully. And, to flee the ache I felt at stay­ing asleep, to avoid reliv­ing her dying in my arms (again) (“Death Scene, the Sequel”), I woke up, tears run­ning down my face and speak­ing qui­etly to myself, alone in my bed. “I know you do,” I said to my pil­low, gen­tly. “I know you do.” It hurt the same either way.

2. I had this dream.

Hav­ing friends who are street artists is cool. It can feel like hang­ing out with the good guys in white hats and the bad-​asses in black hats, in one per­son. Street art can be a jolt of elec­tric­ity, Robin Hood telling you to wake the fuck up and stop accept­ing cor­po­rate dom­i­nance of your pub­lic space. It is a voice that answers back to visual noise so the dia­logue is not so one-​sided. It is a way to grab heart­strings and direct minds to a cause. Graphic mes­sages strike imme­di­ately, leap­ing tall lan­guage bar­ri­ers with­out mak­ing a sin­gle bound. Some street artists make the leap into the art world and gain the option to drop the “street” label, and sim­ply become “artist.”

But, rewind: How does some­one learn how to paint and make wheat paste and sow cul­ture or jam cul­ture, when that some­one can barely afford paper or paint? Some street artists are priv­i­leged kids who went to art school. Some are not-​so-​privileged kids who went to art school and will have stu­dent loans hang­ing over their heads that will be for­given only if they die. And then there are some for whom art edu­ca­tion began at the begin­ning, at the street school itself.

Tag­ging can be a com­pul­sion. Nor­man Mailer observed in The Faith of Graf­fiti that tag­ging your name is a way for some­one invis­i­ble to know they exist. Or else maybe it’s just a big Ego Thing to do. Write your Name. But as any­one who has ever been a child, taught a child, or raised a child knows, edu­ca­tion is rep­e­ti­tion. So tag­gers can become self-​taught artists by writ­ing their name many thou­sands of times. Some will jump from writ­ing highly orna­mented let­ters to draw­ing char­ac­ters and designs. A smaller group will switch some­day to paper and maybe try to make a paint­ing or two. An even smaller group will start express­ing things that have been locked up for­ever, as if under a repres­sive gov­ern­ment. And finally, for a few, out it comes: Self. Expres­sion. Open­ing, like a flower.

3. You can never go wrong with flowers.

There’s some­thing kind of strange but inter­est­ing about going to an art open­ing and feel­ing uncom­fort­able because the peo­ple you meet will tell you their “real” name, and not their more-​real name, the one under which they make ille­gal art. And on the sub­ject of strange: ille­gal art. Art. Ille­gal. Sorta weird, isn’t it? The other night, I was get­ting on the L train at 8th Avenue to go back to Brook­lyn with a street-​artist-​who-​uses-​an-​alias friend. We walked onto the train and sat down. He spot­ted the bill­board behind our heads. There, on the ad, was a postal sticker he’d put there, maybe a month ear­lier, bear­ing his Name. As one graf­fiti writer told Mailer, “The name is the faith of graf­fiti.” So if he has a name, then my friend exists. Maybe it is not all about ego, because see­ing his name has noth­ing to do with my ego, and yet the sight of his name made me feel happy, myself. (If he didn’t exist, who would I sit next to on this train?) My friend had called out to the world, and through serendip­ity, his Exis­tence was call­ing “Hey guys!” and flash­ing a lit­tle smile right back at us.

bulletpoint2 Curbs and Stoops Literary: Bullet Points

4. Death scene.

When I stopped cry­ing, I fell back to sleep and even­tu­ally woke up around 6:30 AM. Before I got out of bed, I had this com­plete thought: how to save the world. Okay, not save it, exactly, just give it a hug. It involved start­ing a cam­paign, prob­a­bly in schools, and hav­ing peo­ple — prob­a­bly kid peo­ple — paint some flow­ers. Non-​threatening, col­or­ful, drawing-​outside-​the-​lines, no-​two-​are-​alike (except of course they are), flow­ers. Kids could then send these flow­ers to an as-​yet unknown point per­son in one of our world’s for­saken, ugly, war-​fucked places. Point per­son would apply paste to the flow­ers and replace the sight of ugly walls with silly little-​kid draw­ings, turn­ing rav­aged cities into out­door art gar­dens, maybe mak­ing peo­ple smile just long enough to start whis­per­ing about peace, to start believ­ing that behind the flower is knowl­edge of a friend (the flower, like a postal sticker, proof such friend Exists). The more peo­ple who become involved in this project, the more peo­ple become involved in this project. Which is secretly about love: the return of Flower Power, repur­posed as a pyra­mid scheme. Loose and mod­u­lar and able to go viral and be embraced by any self-​important group whose PR firm has told it to grow a con­science. It’s the thought that counts. Yet even for the wrong rea­sons, send­ing some­thing hand­made to a stranger to say, “I have never met you, but I have not for­got­ten you,” seems like a sort of nice thought to paste onto a bullet-​hole-​ridden wall.

5. I have not for­got­ten you.

Before I got out of bed to make cof­fee, I started research­ing art in war-​fucked places. I tracked down a guy who led a work­shop to teach kids how to make street art, murals and graf­fiti in Afghanistan. He and his friends orga­nized a work­shop to teach youth how to use spray paint on really big walls. He noted that it was inspir­ing, how quickly they learned and how much they embraced the oppor­tu­nity. He said that where he lives, there is no cul­ture: no music, no sports, no art. “This is a cul­ture wait­ing to be reborn,” he said. For­eign busi­ness is start­ing to come in to help rebuild, so mes­sages are show­ing up, voices sug­gest­ing what to buy and what to do and how to think. Not Art voices. Buy-​stuff, do-​stuff voices. Voices that weren’t there a minute ago. (I can’t remem­ber what the thrum of all the mes­sages here sounds like, nor do I remem­ber any­more the qual­ity of silence with­out them.) Maybe in a place with­out cul­ture, the voices sound beseech­ing. “But there’s no voice back,” he said. I feel hope­ful, I decide maybe art will save the world. “You know I love you, don’t you?”

6. Exposition.

When my friend Jamie Wall was young, he moved to Cal­i­for­nia from the UK, and he met and mar­ried a cute girl named Melinda. She grew up in Pico Rivera, a lower-​income sub­urb of Los Ange­les, so he moved there. I worked with Jamie when I lived in Los Ange­les. He worked two jobs and loved tat­toos and music and he even showed every­one at work his Prince Albert pierc­ing once. Or twice. I moved to New York recently to start a new life. Jamie moved his fam­ily to Eng­land to start a new life recently, too. I was sick of own­ing a car, and of my apartment’s lack of sun­light. Melinda couldn’t stand to spend another day in her home­town. Melinda’s mom, Maria…well, this is what the LA Times said:

“Maria Hicks, 58, a Latina woman, was shot near the inter­sec­tion of Wood­ford Street and San Gabriel River Park­way about 9:55 p.m. Fri­day, Aug. 10, [2007] and died of her injuries at a hos­pi­tal three days later, Mon­day, Aug. 13.

“Hicks was dri­ving home and saw a Latino man or youth spray-​painting graf­fiti, said Lt. Larry Lin­coln of the Sheriff’s Depart­ment homi­cide bureau. She honked her horn and flashed her lights and began to fol­low the flee­ing tag­ger. Two Latino men or youths in a sil­ver com­pact car pulled up and shot at her. She was struck in the upper torso. Three peo­ple were later arrested.”

Images: cour­tesy of Com­bat Comms.

This essay appears in print in 1441, No. 1
Read­ing and release party June 30, 2011, 7 PM
WORD Book­store
126 Franklin St.
Brook­lyn, NY

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Born Under a Bad Sign X Behind the Scenes with Neckface

June 21st, 2011 by Lenny Correa

Neck­face is as Neck­face does. Dur­ing the recent MOCA pro­duced Art in the Streets exhibit, direc­tor Isa­iah Seret teamed up with Neck­face to shoot Born Under a Bad Sign using Neckface’s back-​alley instal­la­tion as a set. Neck­face him­self is a big fan of hor­ror films so I am very excited to see what the guys came up for the fin­ished fea­ture. Just look­ing at his art should let you know what kind of seri­ous sur­prises to await because, more than any­thing else, he is known to always make his own rules. Check out the trailer above and our exclu­sive behind the scenes pho­tos from the film right after the jump.

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Margaret Kilgallen x Ratio 3

June 20th, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher

Ratio21 Margaret Kilgallen x Ratio 3

Mar­garet Kil­gallen (1967 – 2001) is con­sid­ered by many to be one of the most influ­en­tial, yet under-​recognized, Bay Area artist of her gen­er­a­tion. Kil­gallen, along with a hand­ful of other artists such as Barry McGee, Chris Johan­son, and Ali­cia McCarthy, came to emer­gence in the late 1990s, as part of an art move­ment that is now com­monly referred to as the Mis­sion School.

On view in the gallery will be a selec­tion of works-​on-​paper and paint­ings on can­vas, some never before seen. Many of the works are painted on dis­carded pages from books, empha­siz­ing Kilgallen’s resource­ful­ness and econ­omy of mate­ri­als. This is also reflected in the can­vas works, most of which were cut and sewn together by hand, giv­ing the paint­ings a quilt-​like qual­ity. The imagery depicted includes her iconic motifs such as leaves, trees, topog­ra­phy, and female fig­ures, all of which exem­plify Kilgallen’s del­i­cate and adept hand. Her hum­ble, almost folk­loric, style pushes some of the imagery into sim­ple abstrac­tions of color, lines, and repeat­ing shapes. This exhi­bi­tion offers an inti­mate look into Kilgallen’s very per­sonal and sin­gu­lar vision.

Ratio1 Margaret Kilgallen x Ratio 3

The work of Mar­garet Kil­gallen has been exhib­ited inter­na­tion­ally at venues such as the Museum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Los Ange­les, REDCAT, Los Ange­les, UCLA Ham­mer Museum, The Draw­ing Cen­ter, New York, Whit­ney Museum of Amer­i­can Art, New York, Insti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Philadel­phia, and the DESTE Foun­da­tion Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Art, Athens, Greece.

This is the first solo exhi­bi­tion in San Fran­cisco of Margaret’s work in 13 years.”

Mar­garet Kil­gallen: Sum­mer /​Selec­tions
June 23 – August 5, 2011
Ratio 3, 1447 Steven­son Street, San Fran­cisco, CA 94103 USA
Open­ing recep­tion: Thurs­day, June 23, 2011, 6 – 8pm.

Images via The Cit­rus Report, The Paper Crane, and the Ham­mer Museum.

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RISD Painting MFA 2011 at Mixed Greens.

June 14th, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher

Open­ing this Thurs­day, June 16th, Mixed Greens in NYC will be host­ing a group show, Small Crowd, fea­tur­ing work from the Rhode Island School of Design’s grad­u­at­ing MFA painters. As Mixed Greens writes, “Though paint­ing has been their aca­d­e­mic focus for the past two years, these eight tal­ented artists use a vari­ety of mate­ri­als, processes, and inspi­ra­tions to pro­duce excep­tional, thought-​provoking work address­ing every­thing from mate­ri­al­ity to domes­tic­ity to history.”

MFA1 RISD Painting MFA 2011 at Mixed Greens.

Fea­tured artists: “Katie Bell con­sid­ers her­self a simul­ta­ne­ous home-​maker and home-​wrecker; she cat­a­logs the mate­ri­als of the home while dis­as­sem­bling its con­tents. The result­ing lay­ered, multi-​media work focuses on ideas of remod­el­ing in an effort to uncover buried spaces, inves­ti­gate mate­ri­als, and deter­mine what it means to build and rebuild. Her abstract works (both two and three-​dimensional) use actual build­ing mate­ri­als in addi­tion to tra­di­tional paint to reveal an anx­ious strug­gle between hid­ing and reveal­ing. Cory­don Cow­ansage explores the psy­chol­ogy of mun­dane, res­i­den­tial Amer­i­can land­scapes through min­i­mal geo­met­ric abstrac­tions. Her large-​scale paint­ings draw on her imme­di­ate sur­round­ings to cre­ate an alter­nate real­ity — a real­ity that appears nat­u­ral­is­tic but is, in fact, con­structed of slight dis­tor­tions, com­pres­sions, and omis­sions. Her paint­ings are con­fronta­tional, yet attract the viewer through a sense of famil­iar­ity, leav­ing them con­tem­pla­tive space to project their own imag­ined sto­ries onto the can­vas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Art Official Truth at Project One Gallery, SF

June 11th, 2011 by Jeffrey Pena

artofficialintro Art Official Truth at Project One Gallery, SF

San Fran­cisco, CA based aerosol art­star Chor Boo­gie has his cura­to­r­ial debut with “Art Offi­cial Truth” a diverse group exhi­bi­tion at Project One Gallery show­cas­ing works from many dis­ci­plines includ­ing paint­ing, sculp­ture and per­for­mance. “Art Offi­cial Truth” opens this Fri­day, June 17 at the unique San Fran­cisco space, which hosts a fusion of art, music and entertainment.

Exhibit­ing artits are; Aaron Nagel, Decoy, Pablo Cristi, Ash­ley Zelin­skie, Decoy, Kelly Allen, Shark Toof, Robert Bur­den, Crash, Vul­can, Apex, How & Nosm, Saratoga Sake, John Koleszar, Bast & Karen Light, Jef­frey Pena, Sarah Fisher, Alfred “Libre” Gutier­rez, Dogadi, Laura Weyl, Robyn Twomey, Akira Beard, Jet Mar­tinez, Yiy­ing Lu, Chase Tafoya, Lucid Dawn, and Kelly Ording.

After the jump, some of the artists share thoughts on what style means to mak­ers with stim­u­lat­ingly diverse approaches.

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Quentin vs. Coen X the video

June 10th, 2011 by Lenny Correa

A few months back we wrote about Spoke Art’s “Quentin vs. Coen” show at Bold Hype in NYC. This ver­sus style con­cept asks artists to cre­ate works inspired by the film­mak­ers pop-​centric mas­ter­pieces. Think about the lay­ers of mean­ing and ref­er­ence that the art cre­ated will bury you under, or even bet­ter, check out this great video doc­u­ment­ing some of the best pieces.

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Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities

June 10th, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher

OpticalOne Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities

We live in a world that is con­stantly expand­ing; a real­ity con­sis­tently grow­ing in size and appear­ance. Every day over 300,000 new births expo­nen­tially increase our global pop­u­la­tion. Rapid devel­op­ments in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy allow us to see the truths and con­se­quences of pop­u­la­tion growth, while simul­ta­ne­ously afford­ing us an ever increas­ing view of the uni­verse beyond our lit­tle spin­ning space rock, assur­ing that, for those of us who are pay­ing atten­tion, we wake up each day in a world that is both lit­er­ally and per­cep­tively larger. Maybe it’s the weight of that size that draws me to minia­tures, their inti­macy and per­ceived del­i­cacy in sharp con­trast to the boor­ish girth of real­ity. While hob­by­ists have been man­u­fac­tur­ing micro-​environments for decades, the past few years have seen an inter­est­ing increase in fine art minia­tures. Artists like Thomas Doyle, Joe Fig, and Wal­ter Mar­tin and Paloma Munoz use the mate­ri­als of train model experts to cre­ate sur­real 3D scenes, while oth­ers, like Amy Ben­nett and James Case­bere build mod­els as mate­r­ial for paint­ings and pho­tographs. Open this sum­mer at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, and run­ning through Sep­tem­ber 18th, Oth­er­worldly: Opti­cal Delu­sions and Small Real­i­ties is an impres­sively broad sur­vey of con­tem­po­rary art involv­ing minia­tures, orga­nized into four dis­tinct themes and run­ning a wide range of medi­ums and moods. Surely an exhibit high­light, the ever bril­liant Thomas Doyle has cre­ated his largest work to date, a site spe­cific instal­la­tion span­ning two floors of the museum.

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One Work — JoJo Luzhou Li’s Ball and Ground

June 9th, 2011 by Sean Ripple

jojo One Work   JoJo Luzhou Lis Ball and Ground

JoJo Luzhou Li’s bio­graph­i­cal back­ground is a bit of a mys­tery, and con­sid­er­ing the fact that there is no hyper­link to her CV on her web­site, I think she’s ok with this. How­ever, I sup­pose if one really wants to pry, there’s always the phone or email.

I’m con­tent to sim­ply exam­ine Li’s Ball and Ground to get to know where’s she’s com­ing from. With a sur­re­al­ist sense, she bends and warps the mate­r­ial nature of stuff and image into a con­found­ing dis­play of hyper­re­al­ity. Hers is a world where objec­tiv­ity is a soup poured out of the can.

Noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar never looked so good.

Jojo on ilikethis​art​.net

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Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.

June 8th, 2011 by Jeffrey Pena

heirtoday1 Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.

You might have caught Hec­tor Her­nan­dez’ reveal­ing inter­views with emerg­ing artists on his con­tem­po­rary art blog, Art Czar. Her­nan­dez is also a mem­ber of Los Out­siders, an Austin based artists col­lec­tive that curates cul­tur­ally dri­ven exhi­bi­tions along­side col­lab­o­ra­tors Michael Anthony Gar­cia and Jamie Castillo. Recently, the col­lec­tive curated “Hasta La Basura Se Sep­ara” (Eng­lish: Even the Trash Gets Sorted.) Los Out­sider curate a very a pro­pos exhi­bi­tion tying together artists across the Mex­i­can dias­pora in, “Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.”

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Aaron Nagel x Shooting Gallery

June 3rd, 2011 by Chloe Gallagher

Aaron1 Aaron Nagel x Shooting Gallery

I’ve been a fan of Oak­land based painter Aaron Nagel for years. I can’t quite recall where I first saw his rich, sen­sual paint­ings, only that they struck me with such force that I closed my eyes and they were still there. After my dis­cov­ery I kept com­ing back, like a kid who’s found a cave in the woods behind their house, cir­cling back again and again, peer­ing from afar, closer each time, look­ing for warn­ing signs that per­haps it is unsafe, or worse, unreal. I must have vis­ited Nagel’s site a dozen times before read­ing that he was entirely self-​taught. “Aha,” I thought, “You see, it is unreal.” A rab­bit hole rather than a cave, all the more tempt­ing to ven­ture into. Last April I had the priv­i­lege of inter­view­ing Aaron for Curbs, and learned a lot of fas­ci­nat­ing things about his process and influ­ences. Last month I received word that he is hav­ing another solo show at the Shoot­ing Gallery in San Fran­cisco open­ing June 11th, enti­tled A Thin Line. I can only imag­ine what kind of magic he has in store.

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