Category Archives: Fine Arts

[Traveling Tales] An Inspiring Stroll Through Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum

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A week in the South 💜✨

I think at one point or another, we’re all either turned off from – or turned on to – different types of art; I’ve been enamored with the musical process since I was a little kid, but in first grade -after viewing ‘color by numbers’ as more of a competition to finish first than an exercise in observing the intricate nature of shapes and sizes – art (painting, drawing, sculpting and the like) simply just lost me.

A week in the South 💜✨Throw on some old Mozart and we can talk, or let’s discuss the sociocultural importance of ‘Pope Marcellus Mass‘ – but the second you’d bring a Rembrandt or a Monet anywhere in my general vicinity and my boredom would be palpable. Living in Los Angeles, there are so many different venues to enjoy the arts – and so many different forms and iterations of the artistic process, that you nearly have to go out of your way not to enjoy them.  Which, I did, for my first few years living here but I’ve learned that you’ll keep disliking the things you don’t like if you keep avoiding them, and the more I’ve jumped feet first into the deep end of the artistic process and finally, art has been making a splash everywhere I’ve looked.

A week in the South 💜✨

The Crystal Bridges Museum caused quite a stir when it was built, receiving outcries from more populous cities and snarky artsier-than-thou personalities from San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago: why were historic contemporary pieces from the likes of Herring, Rockwell and Warhol being sent to the rural, deep South? Why couldn’t it be where a larger population, a more “educated” and “artistically inclined” population lives? But to me, the real question is this: why shouldn’t it be?  Why shouldn’t everyone be able to enjoy art, especially when art is for everyone!  Crystal Bridges is absolutely free to the public, proving that once and for all – no one, no matter where they live, should be deprived of art, of this beautiful process that is usually borne out of strife, out of the human need to connect and understand our emotional nature.

A week in the South 💜✨

But even between the LACMA, Getty Museum and Getty Villa, Broad Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum – I didn’t really get it until I went to Arkansas almost half a decade years ago. Because the art there did just what I know it will do for everyone in the town, bind them to our collective unconscious that we all tap into and remind them that someone, somewhere sees the world in the same technicolor vision that they do.

A week in the South 💜✨

Crystal Bridges is the reason I first fell in love with art, with the unexpected twists and turns of sculpted work and the obscure nature of three dimensional pieces; between the contrasting complexities of color patterns and shifts between shades of color; and it’s the reason I’m still falling in love with new artists, painters, sculptures and styles.  The brainchild of architectural mastermind Moshe Safdie, best known for his Habitat 67,  the grounds also offer a look into a Frank Lloyd Wright spectacle known as Bachman-Wilson House that had migrated from the Millstone River all the way up in New Jersey. The terrain of Crystal Bridges boasts gorgeous grounds and wonderful, winding trails that take you through the lush landscape and next to the babbling river that runs through the property.  Last, but certainly not least – if you’re hungry or in need of something tasty to sip on, get your fix at their incredible restaurant Eleven.  From signature drinks named after their collection of fantastic fine arts to the Pig Ear Nachos, I think it’s necessary to give it all a whirl -because you’re in Arkansas and you might as well enjoy yourself, damnit.  Next time I come out for work, I’m planning my trip around making it to a weekend Brunch at Crystal Bridges so I can finally see everything the grounds have to offer, strolling leisurely through the museum, soaking up beauty around each and every corner.

For more on the Crystal Bridges Museum, or as I prefer to call it – the one not-directly-Wal Mart related reason to visit Bentonville – head to their website and socials.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

For more on my trip to Arkansas, including the glorious Southern food and beautiful scenery – head to my album here!

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨ A week in the South 💜✨

A week in the South 💜✨

 

[The Audiofiles] Enter The Intersection of Music and Art with’Life is Beautiful’ Visual Artists Charlotte Dutoit and Felipe Pantone

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For centuries, the idea of festival has conjured up ideas of celebration and admiration, overflowing happiness and dexterity among the arts; a literal feast for all of the senses. As the fine arts circle and intertwine with each other, there’s been an innate, inexplicable tie between music and the arts. Both works of passion, music paints our auditory experience in much the same way that a painter, sculptor or designer creates in the physical world. This year at Las Vegas’ fabled Life is Beautiful Festival, witness firsthand how music and art intersect on a higher plane.

Purchase Tickets for Life is Beautiful

Landing on the strip this weekend from September 23rd through the 25th, Life is Beautiful is back for their fourth consecutive year. In addition to an internationally respected group of musical acts across the breadth of the spectrum from Bassnectar, Flume, Major Lazer, Bob Moses, Chromeo, Zhu, Crystal Castles and so many more- the festival plays host to equally talented visual artists.   Curated and commissioned by the esteemed mind of Charlotte Dutoit, founder of the JUSTKIDS organization, Life is Beautiful has blossomed into a mecca for world renowned visual artists, featuring murals and installations from all over the globe as well. This weekend’s event will be highlighted by art tycoons including US grown Shepard Fairey of “Obey Giant” fame and Tristan Eaton, while corners of the globe from France, Japan, Spain, Norway, Poland and Argentina are represented with works from Fafi, Mark Drew, Dulk, Bezt from Etam Cru, Martin Whatson and Felipe Pantone respectively.

We were lucky enough to catch up with visionary mastermind Charlotte Dutoit and the kinetic contemporary magnate Felipe Pantone on their craft and influences, the creative process, music, art and all things in betwixt.

The head honcho on the art scene for Life is Beautiful, Charlotte Dutoit has perfected the art of curation. Charlotte has been with Life is Beautiful since its inception four years ago, applying her taste-making abilities to both the murals and installations programs. As founder of the JustKids organization, Charlotte has now even curated people – bringing together an exceptional network of otherworldly creatives, artists, designers and art consultants to collaborate on gallery shows and spaces for high profile clients.  Charlotte has created and designed spaces at first class US festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas and Coachella, internationally acclaimed events in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Berlin’s Urban Nation, not to mention – producing proper gallery shows in Puerto Rico, London, and Berlin.

What goes into curating a large scale event like Life is Beautiful?

Life Is beautiful takes almost a year of preparation. My job ranges from artistic visioning to hands on delivery. It includes the conception of the lineup, the team recruiting and supervision, the locations choice, the equipment and material logistic, the planning, the designing, the marketing, merchandising etc. Of course I am not alone, Life Is Beautiful is a perfect example of a spectacular team work. It’s a collaboration between very specific and specialized talents, and we learn a lot from each other every year.

If we took a walk into your home right now, whose art will we find?

Mostly new Contemporary Artist such as Borondo, Roa, Dates Farmers, Patrick Martinez, Daniel Arsham, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Alexis Diaz, Ana Maria, Saner, Cyrcle… And some Modern Artist like Carlos Cruz-Diaz.

What type of art do you find the most inspiring?

Art with a meaning, that provokes questions and challenges modern society and conventions. Art that brings new discussion toward the art.

Tell me a bit about the Justkids Organization, what drove you to create it and how does it inspire you?

Justkids is a creative house of artists, curators, art events creators and brand marketers. Together we produce, curate and manage art projects for institutions, cities, brands and private clientele. It’s a constant emulation between us and it’s allowed me to collaborate and work with the people I admire. That’s my fuel!

The Life is Beautiful Festival poses the perfect cohabitation of Live Art and Live Music; how does music inspire your work?

I am passionate about music since I was a kid. Actually, my first job in Paris was in the music production. So it’s of course it’s a pleasure to collaborate on a festival where the attendees are real music enthusiasts and culture lovers! Music is a source of inspiration and an infinite niche of references that I appreciate when I recognize them in art, could be in the aesthetic, in the message or in the attitude.

What’s your favorite genre of music?

Hip- Hop, Punk Rock, Electro, Folk…

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

Kurt Vile

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

Beastie Boys, Check Your Head Tour! It’s a piece of my childhood, the music I grew up on and I continue to listen. They brought so much coolness, new style and new energy that it’s a constant inspiration for me.

Which other artists on the lineup are you excited for?

Janes Addiction!

In the 21st century, it feels like everything is interconnected these days. How does social media enhance the artist experience and connect you to your fans (and peers)?

It’s a perfect to show a project from scratch to completion or to show the insight of our Art event. It’s also a good way to tell people where we are so the Art enthusiasts that live around can pass by to see it live. It’s a fantastic tool and we all took advantage of it to share on a global scene and it’s really worked for the Art.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “curators block” feel like and how do you get over it?

It happens all the time and I have learned to deal with them now. It’s annoying when you have a dead-line but I don’t see block as a frozen state, they are entirely part of the creative process and the necessary space and breath to deliver the idea that will satisfy your goal and creativity.

 

Inspired to pick up a spray can at the ripe age of 12, Felipe Pantone firmly found his footing within the graffiti circuit and hasn’t looked back since.Currently a full time artist, Felipe crafts nearly 200 to 250 pieces a year between various mediums from graffiti and canvases to murals. Thematically, his work circles around modern methods of communication and the fast paced world we inhabit. Though you won’t be able to catch him personally at the festival, you’ll be able to marinate in the perspective shifting precision of his work. After Las Vegas he’ll be heading to Detroit, Tahiti, Mexico, Miami and finally back to Europe

 

What’s your preferred artistic medium and what other mediums do you dabble in. Will you be employing any new methods this event?

I always use spray paint. I studied fine arts so I learnt most of the common techniques and I figured that the best for me was the one that I started using as a kid to paint on walls. It’s the most versatile one. With the same tool I can paint from tiny little canvases to huge 10 stories walls. I’m trying something special for LIB, a sort of integration of my sculptural work with my mural.

When art is psychedelic and thought provoking, it deserves music that parallels – how does music influence your work?

I listen to music all the time when I’m working. From songwriters to indie when I’m at the studio, and electronic music mostly when I’m painting outside.

What influences the subject matter of your work?

I reflect on the present and the kind of life that I have. This feeling that a lot of people of my generation are experimenting nowadays. The fact that everything changes really quickly, that you can spend 12 hours on a plane and be on the other side of the planet, and still have a Skype meeting with you from. I try to live and understand the present through my work.

Would you say that your work fits into a particular art movement?

I’m part of the street-art scene since I come from painting on the streets. But street- art, if a movement, is a very loose one. There isn’t an ideology behind it. I wrote the “ULTRADYNAMIC MANIFESTO”, a new art movement, ha, ha. It was more like an exercise, trying to put on paper what I wanted to do. Of course I don’t follow it, I think these are times of dissolving tradition and staying away from collective thinking.

Have you ever done stage design, album, LP, EP or promo artwork for a musical artist? How does that collaboration process work?

I owned a records label for a little while. So I created art works and music videos for the artists. It was really cool since I had full control and they trusted me. I really enjoy these kind of collaborations when the musical artist control the music, and the visual artist control the visuals 🙂

What’s the last record your purchased?

Hmm, honestly it’s been a while. I have a Spotify subscription and I stream everything from there or Soundcloud. Probably the last album I bought is Tom Waits “Bad as Me”.

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

El Último Vecino.

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

I really enjoyed that Etienne de Crécy show where he played inside these big cubes and the projections were just amazing. I remember that being very inspiring.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “artists block” feel like and how do you get over it?

I think that the more you do, the more creative you are, the more ideas you have, so I feel really good these days that I produce so much work. Always – something that you paint today inspires you for the next piece. When I get blocked, visiting museums and watching some of the masters’ works is really refreshing.

One thing I’ve found in life is the best things are usually shared; how do you feel about collaborating on your craft and how is the creative process enhanced when you’re surrounded by a collection of equally talented peers?

I have a couple of assistants and that makes things way easier. Somebody to share your concerns with, ask for second opinions… And of course also helps productivity wise and fun wise.

Make sure you give each area of the festival some proper attention, be prepared to be inspired and open your soul with every experience possible while at Life is Beautiful. For more on Charlotte, the JUSTKIDS Organization, Felipe Pantone and Life is Beautiful – head to their social media channels.

Charlotte Dutoit: Website  | Twitter | Instagram

JUSTKIDS: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Felipe PantoneWebsite | Facebook | Vimeo| Instagram

Life is Beautiful: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

[Artist Spotlight] Lili Lakich

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The more I become acquainted with Los Angeles, the more I’ve realized that street art is literally any and everywhere around this amazing city.  My neighborhood – Melrose and Fairfax – is essentially a mecca for street artists; the area is riddled with skate shops, tattoo shops and a rich hodgepodge of different artistic types. The end result? Alleyway after alleyway, covered from head to toe in the most vivid and vibrant graffiti, street art, acrylic art and multimedia art I’ve ever seen.

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A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering around the downtown area in search of something more or less transformative; for the amount of street art we’ve come across (hint: a lot) – for everything I’ve loved, I’ve seen three things I couldn’t reconcile or wrap my head around.  Thankfully, the Little Tokyo area of downtown essentially screams in equal parts culture and art.  One thing I didn’t know until recently was that the area hosts the largest Japanese-American population in the United States and stands as one of only three Japantown’s; the other two residing in San Francisco and San Jose, respectively.   Being the urban adventurers we are, naturally we were scouring parking structures, back alleys and side streets in search of the perfect piece, picture – or, hopefully – both.  After an hour of prowling the streets, we stumbled across an incredibly industrial yet new age art gallery.  One peak inside at the fluorescent art and we knew we had to explore; it turns out we stumbled into the Lili Lakich Gallery of Neon Art and we were not mad about it!

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Lili Lakich has always craved the contrast of a dark night and bright, neon lights. Originally from Washington DC, the Lakich family migrated from Washington DC to Arizona along with her father’s military career.  His idea of vacations were road trips and her family would choose their hotels based on the awesomeness of their neon signs.  And from a young age, this helped shape her love of all things fluorescent.  Route 66, Las Vegas – they weren’t just culturally iconic cities, they had become meccas of art and creativity; they were inspirational.   After bouncing between the Pratt Institute in New York and the London School of Film Technique – she finally settled down in New York to complete her BFA in ’67 and the next year she moved to Los Angeles to pursue art as a career.  Within a few short years, she began showing her awe inspiring sculptures – first in ’73 at Gallery 707 and then in ’74 for her first solo show.  In 1982, she created the Museum of Neon Art and worked as it’s first director until 1999 and since then has had shows all over the world, from Tokyo to Paris and her work can be seen in many major publications on neon and contemporary art.

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As I mentioned earlier, she currently runs the Lili Lakich Studio in Japantown which houses tons of her works – from her latest to her greatest, in addition to showing off the works of her students.  Yes, students!  One thing we discovered while talking to her was that she hosts an 8 week workshop on creating neon art! So even the average Joe can create art that glows; genius!  Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t afford to take this round of classes but trust me when I say it’s now on my bucket list of things to do before I leave this lovely city.  There’s something to be said for passionate people and Lili Lakich sure is one of them.  If you’re based in the LA area and want to hear more, simply head on down to Japantown and meet the woman for yourself! She’s wonderful, kind and more than willing to share her love of art with anyone who walks in her doors.  Or, if you can’t find the time to stroll through the shop, pick up a copy of her autobiography – For Light, For Life, For Love; now, onto the art!

 

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[Artist Spotlight] Tomoko Konoike

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The other week I was going through my typical mid-week, 2-o’clock-feeling routine: grab a hot cup of tea, surf reddit and other news outlets for ten minutes and see what was going on in this fabulous world that we’re living in.  After minimal scrolling, I found something that made me stop in my tracks – the amazing sculptures of Japanese artist Tomoko Konoike.  Konoike is a graduate of Tokyo’s famed University of Gedai – one of the oldest art schools in all of Japan.   Originally founded in 1949, the University was the result of merging the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Tokyo School of Music; both respectively founded in 1887.

Tomoko’s art takes on a life of its own as she introduces it within unique environments and mediums; often using herself as a reference point – whether it’s through manga, pop culture or Shinto animism – Tomoko truly embodies the breadth  of Japanese art.  Though the wolf is extinct in Japan, one of the most amazing things to me are the way she can capture their dichotomy of delicacy and death, of beauty and violence; essentially, they’ve become a spiritual allegory.

I’ve been staring at her works in awe since last Friday and I’m beyond excited to share some of them with the world.  Tomoko primarily works with crystals, but employs different mediums – like using broken mirrors or drawing them with graphite.  The end result is a creative, surreal look at the world around us.  For you Californians – especially those of you up North – you’re in for a super special treat: Gallery Wendi Norris is currently hosting ‘Earthshine’,  Tomoko Konoike’s American Solo Debut in San Francisco.  Her work will be on display until October 26th so be sure to check it out!

Last but definitely not least – as much as I love using my own images I’ve yet to see one of Tomoko’s works live so I’ve scoured the interwebs to get the best shots of her work.  And, as such, each picture will take you to another original post about Tomoko, her sculptures and her shows.

Reflective Six Legged Wolf Covered in Mirror Shards

The making of ‘Earth Baby’

Earth Baby

Hidden Mountain Reverse

Shira—Spirit from the Wild (detail), 2009, Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper, 1.82 x 16.32m

Spirit of the Wild: Japanese ink, shell powder, gold leaf on Kumohada-mashi paper (Japanese paper)

The Return-Sirius Odyssey: acrylic, sumi, Kumohada-mashi (Japanese paper) and wood panel