If you’re in the New Orleans area this Friday come by Loyola University to hear me talk about the history of Beautiful/Decay and the trials and tribulations of DIY publishing. I’ll be discussing how B/D began, how we morphed from a zine to a internationally distributed publication, working in the art/design world, and all the various projects we’ve been involved in along the way. The lecture presented by AIGA, starts at 7pm, and is open to the public. Hope to see and meet all of you there!
Rebecca Steele’s photographs use a sort-of-handmade-but-still-slick type of light and color to make everything objects, like knickknack figurines and trees, feel new. It’s like you’ve just landed on Earth, and the spotlight on your spacecraft is pointing wildly into the night sky in Washington State hitting two red and green lifeforms, this is the first Earth tree you’ve seen. Punk meets philosophy, and the wiser punk echoes your grandparents: stop and smell the roses.
I recently ran into Dan Sabau‘s haunting and ethereal abstract-figurative watercolors at YES Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was immediately drawn to the dashing bright colors and the flow of lines that maintained a definitive form despite allusive strokes of paint. Faces and figures are distraught and aloof, some hidden and others morphed into voluptuous loops. There’s a confounding element of ghastly transparency and confrontational forwardness that makes them disturbing and addictive.
Michael Shapcott is an emerging artist from Connecticut. His paintings and illustrations take traditional portraiture and add elements of folklore and dream imagery, his main source of inspiration. His work is nothing less than powerful, inspiring, and emotional.
Midwestern artist Dave Rowe creates sculptures of time worn structures influenced by American landscapes. His work has developed through a means to “explore history,” as he believes that addressing the change and aging of a landscape reflects not only the passage of time, but also has psychological implications about those who inhabited that change. Memories, ideologies, and personal histories are shaped by one’s surroundings. Therefore, a landscape can serve as a reflection of a collective “personal” experience. By capturing one specific physical moment, the artist allows himself to reflect not a universal or personal truth, but instead, acts as a sort of mirroring of a hyper-specific type of development. The artist re-creates recognizable, yet unspecific buildings that allude to an archival, physical space. His sculptures, focusing on geometrical infrastructures, have been shaped by his own upbringing in the American Midwest and have been influenced by the changes in the American landscape. Specifically, his work focusses on the more rural areas, as the relocation of factories have dissolved the need for industrial buildings. He captures how functionality, or rather, a lack of it, can act as a record of topographical transformation. Even his use of color is a reference to time; he pairs “barn red or tar black” along with “brighter colors evocative of graffiti,” in order to reflect the often seen palette of a forgotten edifice. Rowe creates these structures scaled to hit at eye level, allowing the viewer to enter the space emotionally, and hopes to open a discourse for personal reflection.
It’s always a good thing when a painter reaches into the toolbox and pulls out an unexpected medium or technique to mix into their bag of tricks. Such is the case with German painter Alexander Esters who uses linocuts to create the flat textured effects that pop up here and there in his paintings. This simple use of linocuts adds an unfamiliar depth to his painting technique that makes it stand out from the crowd.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Claude Collins-Stracensky. See the full studio visit and interview with Claude and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Claude’s studio is in a commercial building in Downtown, Los Angeles right where two fairly busy streets intersect. It’s a few floors up, and as soon as Klea and I stepped out from the elevator doors Claude’s Vizsla dogs greeted us with wild tail-wagging enthusiasm and then lead the way into the studio. It’s a huge corner space with tons of natural light streaming in through the wide windows that lends an almost limitless feel to the room. I took a few minutes to wander around and take it all in— the dogs tumbling about together in play, the dust particles fluttering in and out of the hazy afternoon light, and the many projects underway, all of them in various states of completeness. At any given time Claude is often at work on multiple endeavors, taking time with each to experiment, re-think, tinker and tweak. His studio is a like a research lab where he plays around with concepts and materials, creating mock-ups and models, and then tries to bring these ideas to life with his hands. There is a bit of a “mad scientist” in Claude— he approaches his work with unfettered imagination and whimsy, totally unafraid to scheme and dream big, and he seems almost possessed by a rampant curiosity about the natural world and how it works. At the core of Claude’s practice is a preoccupation with physical systems and processes and the innate dynamics of different materials, and the ways in which these forces and elements can interact to bring about a new consciousness of one’s surroundings. Embracing a range of mediums, his practice often plays with perception and aims to expand his viewers’ visual experience and spatial awareness to create impressions that go beyond an everyday understanding of the world. I got the impression that the wheels in Claude’s brain must always be spinning at top speed, never at rest, always at work on questions, always in a state of assessing and hypothesizing. Which is kind of funny, because he comes across as super mellow… but I didn’t let that easy-going vibe fool me!
Some people live life large not having time for life’s small obstacles. such is the case with street artist Aryz whose massive murals start with size xlarge and go up. Aryz’s murals of invisible men, bathing beauties, and humble farmers in fields of flowers demand our attention not only with their massive scale but with their gorgeous and bold colors which can be seen from miles away.