Thursday, December 31, 2009
As part of my eighth birthday celebration I wanted to go see "2010: The Year We Make Contact." I thought it was going to be like "Star Wars." It isn't at all like "Star Wars." Oh well. We went to Pizza Hut after the movie, so everything was all good.
Here's another "Contact" for you.
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
Monday, December 21, 2009
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“Come out of your houses even if it is difficult for you, do away with your individual isolation, let yourselves be possessed by the ideas of the working masses and help them in their struggle against a rotten society.”
-George Grosz, 1920
Erica Sheets is an Oakland, California based multimedia artist whose work represents an update of German Socialist Realist work of the 1920’s and 30’s. Sheets blends historical and contemporary references to an effect that is profound, sobering, and visually striking.
Sheets makes a contemporary, American type of Tendenzkunst, or “tendentious art.” Tendenzkunst refers to a type of art being made in Germany after the first World War by such artists as George Grosz, Otto Dix, and John Heartfield, that addressed collective, social concerns as opposed to the personal abstractions of Dada, surrealism and expressionism. A principle of Tendenzkunst is that any artwork not blatantly allied with social change, blatantly represents the dead weight of the status quo.
Much of Sheets’ work deals with issues of labor, class, culture, politics and social struggle. Frequently, her work examines the way that these issues are expressed in and by the body. The machinations of culture and politics maim and deform the proletariat and the bourgeoisie alike. In a work entitled “Fame,” Sheets presents an image of Angelina Jolie morphed with Mickey Mouse and laden with Oedipal associations. The eyes are plucked out, replaced with reflective surfaces, and radiating red string.
Below, under a magnifying glass, is a small image of crippled rat inside of a matchbox.
“Fame” is an appropriate contemporary response to Otto Dix’s 1920 painting Der Streichholzhandler I (Match Seller I), which depicts a blind quadriplegic man seated on the sidewalk, selling matches as the bourgeoisie pass by above.
Sheets makes wise material choices in her work that raise the metaphorical value and befit the subject matter of each piece. Great mental gymnastics are not required to read red string as analogous to veins or rivulets of blood. In Sheets’ paintings “M-2” and “M-3,” which bear images derived from posters urging factory safety, the point is symbolically made by red blood staining yellow skin.
The artwork of Erica Sheets skillfully emphasizes the collective over the individual, social consciousness over narcissistic preoccupation, and practicality over oblique ambiguity. She reminds that art has the power to be at once direct and poetic.
Erica Sheets is co-director of the Basement Gallery in Oakland, California.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
If you don’t like Daniel Johnston, this won’t mean much to you.
But, if you do like Daniel Johnston, and you watch the video, be sure to stick around until the end for a cool surprise. Also, you’ll have to turn the volume up a little.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Some of Santiago’s sculptures resemble religious idols, such as statuary of the Buddha or the Madonna. This resemblance traffics in associations of worship, reverence and ritual, which Santiago handles with an individual stance. His idols appear to be in a suspended state of melting, or covered in ghostly layers of whitewash. Any type of idol is covered with layers of references, associations, histories and superstitions. Such narratives adorn and comprise religions and art worlds. That which seems to cover the features of one of Santiago’s idols is the idol itself.
From St. Peter’s Basilica to the Rothko Chapel, art and religion depend, now and then, upon the ability of an artist to manipulate the material of the physical world to the point of describing some quality or condition of a metaphysical realm. Culture selects which physical stuff will become the language of metaphysical realms. Complexity can be gained when individuals choose that stuff for themselves.
In a work entitled “False Idols…Obscure Objects,” multiple figures of Ultraman, each approximately 20 inches high, appear to battle one another on the gallery floor. Ultraman is a Japanese television character from the late 1960’s. Appropriately, Ultraman is only able to spend a few minutes on Earth at a time, lest he die.
As in the work of Katharina Fritsch, the formal devices of repetition, color and scale complicate the classification of Santiago’s Ultraman idols. Certainly this work says more about the artist, and art in general, than it says about Ultraman specifically.
Much of the power of Juan Miguel Santiago’s work is the elegant way in which it reminds that any type of idol is a physical material dependent upon context found in an array of narratives, from the Old Testament to obscure television shows, for meaning and relevance.
Juan Miguel Santiago teaches ceramic art at Chabot College in Hayward, California. He recently curated an exhibition at the Basement Gallery in Oakland, California. See more of his work here:
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This year has been a disorienting whirlwind for us, but it’s been great. Like Snoop says: “Ups and downs, smiles and frowns.” There have been way more ups than downs and we have a bunch of folks to thank for that.
We are truly thankful for all the new and old friends that we have. We want to say thank you for all the love, support, encouragement, inspiration and blinding brilliance these people have so generously given us this year. Here they are, in no particular order, the coolest, most gifted group of people ever:
The nice guy from Chattanooga who sat beside us at the Phish show in Knoxville
Sunday, November 22, 2009
on The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Myspace blog. I have no idea how these guys found me, but I’m way flattered. If you are unfamiliar with The Brain Jonestown Massacre don’t admit it to anyone, and check this out:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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Norman Mingo is one of my favorite painters. His work has a lot in common with that of Edoaurd Manet, another favorite. Both Manet and Mingo convey much about their subjects by depicting them with only a few specific details, the backgrounds are minimal and flat.
Manet’s work depicts styles and attitudes at the cusp of the twentieth century. His technique basically founded Modern painting.
Mingo’s work pretty much just uses a lot of visual puns to attract kids to spend their allowances, and remind us that Alfred E. Newman is an idiot born under a bad sign.
Manet employs his fair share of visual puns too. All those cats, flowers, and fish, aren’t fooling around. They represent exactly what you think they do. And, certainly it’s not missing the point to think that “Dejeuner sur l herbe” is sort of funny. It’s at least uncommon, even now, in it’s balance of technical merit and raunchy sense of the absurd.
Norman Mingo’s MAD Magazine covers have a way more obvious context in the Saturday Evening Post covers of Norman Rockwell. Both artists use narrative to convey a certain attitude and cultural position. Reading Mingo’s work as parody of the mainstream manners of the Saturday Evening Post, (except when it’s blatantly a parody), while accurate, feels reductive.
The way Manet and Mingo deal with comedy is similar. They both have a fondness for lowbrow jokiness, which makes sense in both cases. Manet is only funny sometimes; most of his work isn’t funny at all. Manet and Mingo depict their subjects in strange world’s of their own, worlds that have their own physical laws yet are superficially similar to ours in the fine details. The subjects are presented in odd, stagey circumstances, and frequently they regard the viewer with an attitude of bemused nonchalance. “What, me worry?”
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"I had a lot of responsibility and it could get intense. But a good kickabout down the road would clear my head. Then, let's get overdubbing."
A kickabout for me and a kickabout for Jeff Lynne are likely to be two different things, but mine is no less good.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Happy Halloween! Bees and I plan to spend Halloween about like we always do. We'll give out candy, watch a scary movie and perform blood rites. In the way of tricks-and-treats, we have this to offer you: "It's Halloween" by the Shaggs. It's our favorite Halloween song. The Shaggs are a group that Frank Zappa allegedly liked "better than the Beatles." And if that's not a legitimate claim to credibility, nothing is.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Many of Hipolito’s compositions display multiple images with individual narratives, separated by a hard edge, on one picture plain. The sharp, total contrast of Hipolito’s work has an aggressive visual edge akin to the graphic design associated with the mediated occultism of certain types of punk, hardcore and heavy metal music.
Hipolito’s work implies enigmatic narratives, as it resembles frames of a graphic novel, or a page of photojournalism, forms of media that often depict crime and terror in achromatic panels. Similar to the effect of crime scene photography, the mundane is transformed into mystery and menace.
The southern California locations depicted link Hipolito’s work to the grim existentialism of Los Angeles noir. His work also finds existential forbearance in the abstract expressionist paintings, and direct, minimal approach to materials, of Franz Kline. Like L.A. based John Baldessari, Hipolito combines images in a way that elicits new associations and confounds conclusion.
See more of Daniel Hipolito’s here: Daniel Hipolito
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
They make these amazing scarves. --->
Brandi Strickland aka Paperwhistle and Tracy Jager of Living Feral. Check it out!
buythisnow on tumblr
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
For a taste of old school flav’ check out Skateboard Kings, a cool 1978 documentary with a stupid name featuring Tony Alva and some of those other Dogtown guys.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
In lieu of our usual Artist Feature we asked Justin Horne to do an exclusive photo essay for BeesAndTrees. What he provided surpassed our expectations and exemplifies his uncanny knack for recognizing and extracting beauty from the most unlikely places.
“Street and Sidewalk”
A photo essay by Justin Horne
These images are excerpts from a series of photographic works documenting the flotsam and jetsam that flows throughout the pavement surfaces of New York City.
Please Click images to enlarge.
“The most powerful works of art for me are ones that inspire a visual and visceral experience. The work is an event, as well as a conduit to a greater process. Hopefully my work can offer an intimate discovery for an individual by relying on their imagination as they encounter it. My work proposes the possibility for some world other than the one we experience. I strive to illustrate the concept of potential, in its most general sense. By utilizing either what is salient, or what may seem intangible, or positing what could be. Potential is the agent to the mystery that keeps a plot rich and rolling. What harnesses potential could very well be a foundation for the next revelation.”
See more of Justin Horne’s work here:
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