Don Pablo Pedro’s work flutters on the edge of libido insanity. It embodies grotesquely beautiful scroll paintings featuring twisted hermaphrodites in kama sutra type positions, marked with multiple genitalia. Playing tantric wizard, Pedro takes us for a hedonistic ride through all of his rosy, maladjusted conquests. Along the way, we see fine line work and light acrylic washes on muslin. Muslin is the light cottony material used by designers to fit models before cutting a pattern. Here, the artist uses it to attain a flat surface which compliments his precise drawing ability. It seems appropriate, as the artist’s work is easily suited to T-shirts and canvas bags. It holds a pop element near, yet references the old religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.The narrative, taken directly from multi-armed Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shows work that is happily consumed with variations of her likeness. Substituting arms for male and female genitalia, the appendages pile on top one another turning into “third eyes” and “fourth arms”. Newer studies, concentrate on multiple partners more than parts. Also portrayed in hedonistic positions, subjects mimicking, love, lust, faith, and dreams materialize. Comparisons to Surrealism, Japanese scroll work and comic books have been made. There is a Crumb association, but Pedro goes to further lengths. He takes the psychedelic yogi route, opting for freak show characters instead of urban myths. His mysterious subject matter holding true to the power of sexual desire.
Southern California, thanks to its diverse landscape, has always enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres. Los Angeles in the 1980’s saw a kaleidoscope of tunes, and different beach communities, the Valley, South Central, the Inland Empire and East LA each had its own form of local music. Plus, since the late 60’s, a growing number of major record labels had/were setting up their headquarters there. Coupled with an abundance of clubs, Los Angeles become the epicenter of the music industry.
So, not surprisingly, major rock groups did very well in Los Angeles – devoted fans packed their venues. While the alternative scene got less coverage, the free press such as L.A. Weekly, the L.A. Reader, BAM, Rock City News, and Music Connection provided the recaps and nightly gigs around the town.
The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) culled from their Herald Examiner photo archive and worked with the Gary Leonard Collection, LAPL and Photo Friends to present From Pop to the Pit: LAPL Photo Collection Celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene, 1978-1989. The images show the diversity of the decade as well as the different groups who had hit singles, infamous moments, and thrilled countless fans.
If you’re local to Los Angeles, stop by and see the exhibition at the LAPL History & Genealogy Department from January 8 to June 28, 2015. In addition, there’s a companion catalog available for purchase on Amazon.
Luis Lorenzana is a Filipino artist who uses surrealist painting and sculpture to tease and reflect upon the state of consumerism and technology in the present-day world. His style is decidedly “lowbrow” — it is playful, and rich with satire and humor — but his works involve explorations of elitist cultural trends and re-interpretations of classical, “highbrow” art. This particular series is called instanity, a combination of “instant” and “insanity,” which reflects the idea of material excess and immediate gratification: we need to have everything, and we need to have it now. The fact that Lorenzana bends artistic temporalities (by painting Angry Birds into a classical landscape, for example) further shows an insane desire to compress time and space into one material instance — even the result is a little bit strange.
The characters in Lorenzana’s paintings are intentionally ugly. His painting of the Venus — recalling of course, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus — is portrayed with an over-sized head and asymmetrical breasts, unsettling her status as a venerated artistic figure. Lorenzana’s sports-car-driving characters are likewise strange and hyperbolic, with their striped suits, cigarettes, stacked mustaches, and cavalier attitudes, all of which denote a level of excess and materiality that has turned into madness and ludicrousness. These unpleasant representations of culture poke fun at our own “instanity,” and, more generally, at the sheer monetary/aesthetic value and elitism often associated with fine art.
When Elana Pritchard was sent to the women’s division of the Los Angeles County jail for two months in July 2014, she decided to document her experience using only the paper available to her and a golf pencil. She witnessed strange, horrific, even threatening situations, but was able to turn the time into something productive and enlightening for her readers. Even right from the first moment on the bus from the court hearing to the jail, she observed some unbelievable things.
I saw some ugly things on that bus: prostitution, nudity, profanity. A group of male prisoners ganged up on me and thought they could pressure me to show them my breasts — in exchange for crystal meth. I tried telling them to mind their manners, but it didn’t work. I just had to sit there and wait for it to be over. Even though they were all in handcuffs and blocked off by a barrier, they still succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the guards knew what went on in the back of the bus, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t care. (Source)
Subjected to a squat and cough every time upon re-entering the jail, along with 40 other people in the room, Pritchard fast learned to forget about any sort of dignity. Humiliation and verbal abuse were everyday occurrences for the inmates. Hygiene standards were questionable, and the ladies were supplied with used underwear to put on each week.
Every jail has it’s myths and legends, and Pritchard does a good job of accurately confirming or dismissing even the most outrageous ones. Read more about her experience and see more drawings here. (Via LA Weekly)
Traveling all over the world, street artist No Touching Ground wheat pastes compelling imagery amidst various cities architecture that adds depth to the context of our time and place. Recently, in Greece, he posted work concerning their social political climate under the title “Ingredients Of An Uprising”. In one of them, an Axe body spray bottle, re-worked to say “Anarchy for Him” floats over other graffiti on a busy street.
No Touching Ground creates a nearly optical illusion as his work is so photorealistic that it blends into its surroundings in an uncanny way. He began by working around images of animals from the wild, and people dressed up like animals. His work has since become more political, ranging from symbolic elements indicative of social tensions, to portraits and quotes of protestors met at a demonstration. In Seattle he voiced many of the emotions surrounding the tragic death of John T. Williams at the hand of a Seattle police officer. His work is aesthetically lush and important for our social consciousness.
A rather mysterious artist, No Touching Ground has work all over the world. Alaska, Seattle, South America, Europe, and now Greece, there is no saying where his work will show up next.
The altered visions of Lori Nix have led to the creation of transfixing dioramas, which she photographs to look like reality. Often building an entire scene around one object or piece she finds compelling, these worlds are pain-stakingly intricate. The body of work featured, City, offers glances into a post-apocalyptic city, one devoid of human life and beyond collapse. Vegetation and foliage crawl into the scenes, taking over the man-made aspects. Debris everywhere, the rooms appear untouched from how they were before. All the details and minutae indicating human life is there, strewn about.
The dioramas are a time-consuming creation; Nix spends about seven months constructing and photographing a single work. Each diorama is built only to be photographed from a single angle, and she controls and manipulates all of the lighting until she arrives at her desired outcome. A film purist, Nix shoots on an 8×10 large format camera, allowing her to make massive prints of her work.
“Since my earliest days I have always worked with fabrication, either through darkroom manipulations or even room sized installations. My strength lies in my ability to build and construct my world rather than seek out an existing world. Inspiration comes from reading the daily newspaper The New York Times, science fiction paperbacks and magazine articles. I get most of my ideas during my morning subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go to my day job. Something about the morning light, the rocking of the subway, seeing the cityscape pass by opens my mind up to inspiration.”
In a sociopolitical environment wherein Western music was banned, music-lovers in 1950s Russia (who were called stilyagi, similar to our modern-day “hipsters”) found an ingenious way to pirate the popular tunes they loved: by printing the music on exposed x-ray film salvaged from hospital waste bins. The process was unrefined, but subversive; as writer Anya von Bremzen explains,
They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole. You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan — forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens. (Source)
The name given to these bootlegged records was, appropriately, “Bone Music.” The sound quality likely wasn’t excellent, but such piracy was as much a political act as the desire to listen to one’s favourite Western jazz or rock ‘n’ roll — it was a way to cleverly challenge a system that sought to regulate entertainment and youth culture. The Bone Music phenomenon was discovered by the authorities and made illegal in 1958.
The Bone Music records today are curious works of art; you can see the grooves and the circular shapes of the discs superimposed over the bones and viscera of some long-dead stranger. The concept is morbid, and beautiful. As József Hajdú intriguingly points out, Bone Music has a “double function of being both [a] sound record as well as [a] record of the internal human body; images of ribs, skulls and limbs [are] broken by sound waves and shattered by music inscribed onto the surface” (Source). What this macabre association ultimately explores is how we use our material bodies in the creation of art and self-expression, and how, after we are dead, such art becomes cultural artifacts for future generations. We imprint our historical, bodily subversion onto the art we make; and therein lies the beauty of Bone Music.
Check out Hajdú’s page for more scans and insightful thoughts about Bone Music. NPR’s article is also an excellent resource, and it explores many other ways in which people discretely dissented in Soviet-era Russia. (Via Colossal)
Generally speaking, mushrooms are fascinating organisms. As part of the fungi family, they are neither plant nor animal and have an incredible capacity for growth. As evidenced in these stop motion gifs, we witness the mushroom cap or fruit, sprouting out of the ground in various shapes and sizes. The fruit is made up of 92% water allowing for its rapid maturity and part of the fungi you would normally throw onto pizza and salad. It’s this top section, which makes for an interesting visual specimen, as seen here in phallic, veiled and bumpy shapes, credited to nature’s grand design. The part you don’t see, called the root or mycelium, can remain dormant and underground for years. These are the real heroes, acting as nature’s garbage disposals, devouring all that is dead and decaying. Some fungi lore to speak of, includes the toadstool known for its red color, and white dotted spores. Those who grew up playing Nintendo, will remember these colorful blobs as part of the landscape in Super Mario Bros. and incarnate to “Toad” a figure in the game. Psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” are the rebels. In existence since prehistoric times, the fungi first appeared during the mesolithic period as evidenced on rock paintings taken from archaeological finds. Known for its pleasant, hallucinatory effects, studies have shown psilocybin can not only give you a nice high but help with OCD and clinical depression. (via boredpanda)