A Day In Decay: San Francisco (Part 4) Ala Ebtekar Studio Visit

ST. FRANCIS FOUNTAIN SAN FRANCISCO

No trip to SF is complete without visiting St. Francis Fountain, the ultimate brunch spot. I ordered the wrong thing and my server was cool enough to bring me the right stuff without gruff. I felt like I should have given him some B/D shirts or a book but I didn’t have anything with me. I have no idea what his name was but someone reading this blog has to know him. Blonde dude with tats who looked like a surfer/skater type and was wearing a hat with the rim bent back ala Suicidal Tendencies style. If you know who he is email us on our contact page so I can send him a care package for the great service. Okay let’s head back south….


ALA EBTEKAR

On my way back to Los Angeles I stopped by the studio of Ala Ebtekar located near Stanford. I’ve known Ala for a while now and we both show at the same gallery in Dubai. Although we grew up on different coasts Ala and I share a lot of things in common. Both of us come from Iranian families but grew up in the states. We both were involved with graffiti art from a young age and still reference and draw inspiration from that era in our lives. The above image is a pair of sneakers that Ala altered with traditional Iranian calligraphy and patterning. The fat laces were hand made in Iran.

ALA EBTEKAR

Although Ala grew up in the states he studied with a traditional Iranian calligrapher during a visit to Iran. His mentor’s influence comes out in the work in a variety of ways.

ALA EBTEKAR

During Ala’s many trips to Iran he began to collect old Korans and manuscripts. He would find them in Bazaars and other old shops, spending only $30-50 per book.

ALA EBTEKAR

Some of these books are hundreds of years old. Just look at that old leather cover! It’s ancient.

ALA EBTEKAR

The insides of the books have great miniature illustrations and even feature handmade text and verses from the Koran that the previous owners had written in the margins.

ALA EBTEKAR

Ala is deeply influenced by these ancient books, often using the antique paper to paint new images on. The result is a mix of old meets new, east meets west, and traditional calligraphy meets pop culture/graffiti sensibilities.

ALA EBTEKAR

ALA EBTEKAR

ALA EBTEKAR

Various reference images and installation shots scatter the walls and tables in Ala’s studio. I love the hand painted jean jacket in the photo next to the bboy addidas clad hand to the right.

ALA EBTEKAR

Even kids in Iran get down with graffiti.
ALA EBTEKAR

Ala and I were tripping out over these tips. You know graffiti has gone mainstream when it comes in packaging like this. Back in the day we had to buy caps from some shady dude living in his parent’s basement.

ALA EBTEKAR

All eyes are watching you.

ALA EBTEKAR

Ala wanted the work to speak for itself but I managed to snap this photo of him while he wasn’t looking!

ALA EBTEKAR

ALA EBTEKAR

Ala interweaves hiphop culture with Iranian iconography effortlessly.  Everyone needs a paisley patterned hoodie..
ALA EBTEKAR

Or a jean jacket with Farsi back panel.

ALA EBTEKAR

ALA EBTEKAR

Or ornately patterned piece books, markers and boombox.

ALA EBTEKAR

Some of the first works by Ala that I ever saw were these transformer  historical/mythical Iranian figures. Maybe I like these so much because I can relate to the confusion that living in a hybrid culture can create. But what is there not to like about a transformer with a serious ‘stache?

ALA EBTEKAR

ALA EBTEKAR

Here are some sketches and drawings from the transformer series.

ALA EBTEKAR

This guy was sitting on a shelf. I’m pretty sure I had one at one point as well. I wonder if Spongebob will stand the test of time like Transformers did.

IMG_3324

Okay now i’m back on the road heading back to the best city in the world, Los Angeles! But first I gotta stop by the Cherry spot and grab a giant bag of Ranier Cherries!
Thanks to everyone in SF. I had a great time. See you all soon.
P.S. the guy in the photo is hitting on the cherry stand girl big time! Some guys have no shame.
  • http://www.inkstainedhands.com Bill

    I love the calligraphy, jackets and boombox. Ancient books are some of the most awesome things to look through. Once I looked through an Albrecht Durer book, I had to wear gloves, it felt like I was touching something holy.

  • http://daledreiling.net Dale Dreiling

    Ala…a genuinely cool and positive human being.

  • Angela

    Jordan was probably the guy who served you @ St Fran