Steven Charles has a show of new work up now at Stux Gallery in Chelsea. Although he was friendly meeting Steven for the first time was a little unsettling. It felt a little like I imagine spiritual seekers felt like when they met the Maharijji in the 1960s’, like meeting some strange saint. I met him through Aaron Johnson who told me Steven was one of his favorite painters.
During the studio visit Steven and I talked about how he was working as a janitor, but just a couple of years ago he was selling paintings for six-figure sums. He was another victim of 2008, but he didn’t seem bummed out. In fact, he was just going along, and to use another Maharajji idea, he seemed very present. His painting method involves creating something to react to: a painting could start by splashing paint on a surface or by gluing a kid’s sock to a board. Click read more to see his work in progress.
For the last 4 years I’ve made a pilgrimage to Mammoth Lakes for the holidays to get a break from work and get some quality snowboarding in on one of the best mountains in the world. I didn’t do much work during my trip but lucky for you I managed to photograph a handful of vintage signs that can be found in tiny towns between Los Angeles and Mammoth. I’m not sure what it is but these old signs have a certain character that you just don’t see in signage these days. Here are a few of my favorites.
Casey Jex Smith makes work which draws images sacred to high-geekdom, art, and religion together until they are inseparable. I have been into his work since seeing it in person at the Drawing Center a couple of years ago. Some of Smith’s influences are: Dungeons & Dragons manuals, Agnes Martin paintings, Mormon architecture, and Sunday School flannel-board cut-outs. Casey and his wife – who is also an artist, Amanda Michelle Smith, both teach high school art in CA.
Ukrainian illustrator Vasya Kolotusha has a great eye for pattern, texture and color. Taking inspiration from fashion blogs and models, she captures a playful essence in her sketches and animations. With a clean aesthetic, and a slight 80s twist, her images are cool, stylish, classic and quietly humorous. Illustrating for magazines, bands, and posters, Kolotusha’s lux style is a popular one.
Her latest experiments with adding neon light tube details to her sketches are a good match. They are reminiscent of 80s hairdressing signs, a piece of art from a time when sign writing was champion. She has a very simple yet effective technique of isolating her subjects and placing them inside a very graphic background. Her drawing style is so detailed and rich, they succeed in being intriguing, and translate well into animations.
Experimenting with the GIF format, Kolotusha is exploring the process of sketching – making visible to us viewers the preliminarily lines, the building up of color. We can almost see her hand adding background detail and extra flair and then continue on to edit everything we have seen her create. By exposing the whole drawing exercise, she captures our attention, rather than boring us with fussy detail.
Following on from her previous series of people wearing helmets, this series of illuminated girl portraits are a promising sign of things to come. This illustrator is one to watch!
After a full day at the studio last Saturday I popped into the opening for Default State Network, a new show opening at Raid Projects curated by NYC based artist Ryan Wallace. I’m always a fan of artist curated shows and DSN does not disappoint with a great mix of painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture that will excite anyone looking for a mix of craft and concept.
It took us nearly 6 months to get the new B/D site and shop up and running, so getting it off the ground was a huge relief for me and the other cult members over here at the office. Making the shop was relatively easy, as we do a lot of web related projects through our design agency Something In The Universe but we haven’t packed and shipped our own products for our online shop since 2003! Until now we’ve worked with various fulfillment companies to run our online shop. While these fulfillment companies did a good job we always felt a big disconnect with our biggest asset, our readers and fans (that’s YOU!) Sure, it’s nice to have someone else handle the packing and shipping of orders but we had zero interaction with the people that truly care about what we do. Being able to write a hand written note to a shopper when they buy our favorite shirt, or send them a few stickers for free, or toss a random ‘zine in your order just to make their day is what it’s all about. These are all little things that might not matter to bigger companies but they make a difference to us.
I never got into this to make a quick buck, so it’s a great feeling to finally connect with all the other creative memebers of the Cult Of Decay throughout the world. Our first week of shipping had a few glitches but we’re already getting a great response from you. It’s amazing to get so much positive feedback in less than a week! I sent out a package on Tuesday and by Friday I get a Tweet thanking us for the order. Technology is amazing! We got some big plans for the upcoming months so make sure to sign up for our email list to get special discount codes, updates on sales, artists interviews and a whole assortment of other B/D news that we can’t release just yet.
Also, if you missed this in earlier blog posts we’re giving you 15% off Book 4until the end of this week. Just use Use discount code:BDECAYBOOKCULT.
So a big shout out to the entire Cult of Decay no matter where you are. We’re a small group brought together by our love for pushing the envelope, creating amazing things, and doing things our own way. Long live the Cult Of Decay!
The Site Unscene is one of only a handful of new businesses radically changing the landscape of the art world for the better. JB Jones and Wil Atkinson, who founded The Site Unscene [TSUS], are two of the greatest people around – so it’s no wonder that artists as diverse as Gregory Siff and XVALA treat them like family and often drop in to their headquarters from time to time just to say hello. However, one of the most unique aspects to their HQ, besides the art and artists themselves, is that TSUS have a massive garage space where the artists they represent, as well as their friends, are able to come in and paint for however long they need to – which is crucially important, especially to those who work with spray paint and don’t have the space to do so where they live. They even have lockers for all the artists to store their supplies in! I guess you’re wondering what exactly TSUS does and the only way I can explain it is to repeat their mantra of “We help make art happen” – since they really do it all, from putting on pop-up shows to helping an artists realize an ambitious project. In fact, I love TSUS so much that I frequently ask JB and Wil if I can do many of my interviews with artists at their space because everyone instantly feels right at home with the vibe they’ve set up for it. In the future I hope that we will begin to see the downfall of snooty gallerists who are rude to young collectors and the rise of organizations like The Site Unscene who open their arms welcomely to anyone who loves art – whether or not they have a Phd or a zillion bucks.
When Philadelphia-based artist Drew Leshko cycles around his neighborhood, he can’t help but look at the buildings, windows, doors, posters, trash cans and signs around him in a very different way than most people do. For him, they are the beginning of his next project – shrinking them into miniature replicas of themselves on a scale of 1:12. He cuts, glues, builds, layers, and sculpts 3D versions of different store fronts from wood and paper. Leshko says his art form is a way of preserving and archiving the condition of the buildings on his street, the rate and speed of gentrification and also comments on what people consider worth preserving, and what is worth destroying.
His paper sculptures are nostalgic of a time past; a look at his local life when he was younger; a recreation of what was. He has created versions of his grandfather’s camper from the 80s, a local church, a strip bar, a cigarette outlet, a deli, dumpsters, even vending machines. The accuracy of his miniatures and the attention to detail are what make his sculptures as impressive as they are. He even paints rust on over the old gutters or windows and puts acid rain deposits on the footpaths.
Leshko has not only been busy making building facades and details, he has also turned his attention to replicating campervans.
The buildings are huge undertakings and take a lot of time and patience. So I began to think about some smaller sculptures I could make, but most importantly, what type of objects can be constructed of paper? I started to think about tractor-trailers, vans, food trucks, and similar vehicles when I landed on camper trailers. My work has always included commentary on the temporal nature of things, so the transient nature of “RV culture” fits right in to that idea. (Source)
Leshko’s celebration of a particular moment in time is a good reminder to appreciate the way things are in our own neighborhoods – because they will certainly be changing, for better or worse.