Essentially, Black Sheep is a collection of photographs, stories, and reflections on family from the perspective of individuals involved in underground scenes, aiming to challenge the presumption that people involved in subcultures—be it hardcore, punk, graffiti, skate, tattoo culture, or whatever else–come from unstable homes or have poor family values.
There are over 100 contributors: everyone from Darryl Jenifer of the Bad Brains to Melissa Auf der Maur of Hole; Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins to brothers Dave One and A-Trak. In some cases I really felt like a peeping tom looking into a window at the lives of some of the icons who molded my youth. The book is about family values: how these people were shaped as kids, and what values they’d like to instill in their own children.
A big part of this book also seems to be helping people not familiar with underground scenes to break the negative stereotypes surrounding people who are in some way against the grain. Yes, you can be a tattooed hardcore frontman who takes his kids to the park every day and has Sunday brunch with his grandmother each week. This is really “The Osbournes” meets Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Not only is Black Sheep a great book but it was also compiled by Karyn Gray, one of my all time favorite B/D interns. Karyn moved to LA from Canada to work with us for a few months and it’s so great to see that she’s started a career in publishing. Congrats Karyn!
Ryan Bradley’s large, intricately composed pastel paintings of attractive female faces are seductive. The delicate paintings are “unfixed,” which means the pastel is left loose. This creates a surface similar to butterfly wings. If you touched the paintings, some would rub off onto your hands. I can’t help but think there is some relationship between the fragility of the surface and the portraits’ beauty. Like the really ripe moment when someone is at the tops of their looks, you know it can’t last, but you can look away either.
Kevin Lyons is a beast of a designer, after receiving his masters degree from CalArts in 1998, KevinLyons has worked for Nike, both in and out of house, has been Art Director of Urban Outfitters on two separate occasions and has been Art Director at Girl Skateboard Company. This year Lyons released his own line of toys (UPROCK ANIMALS) through Sony Creative in Japan. He also produced two clothing lines; one for 2K called Atlantis, and the other under his personal namesake, NATURAL BORN. In the midst of all his various design work, Lyons has stayed true to his patented hand-drawn style. He is currently in a group show, at HVW8 gallery in Los Angeles, with fellow CalArts grads Michael Leon & Geoff McFetridge.
This past year at Warwick Art Gallery in Queensland, Australia featured a cozy site-specific installation called the Knitchen. As the name suggests, it was a kitchen adorned with knitting (some referred to it as a yarn-bombing). Yarn-covered chairs, sinks, coffee cups, and even a turkey occupied the space from July until August. This endeavor was the result of 50 artists working over the course of seven months. And, it shows. Nearly everything – from a phone cord to the label on a jam jar – is the result of a meticulous attention to detail.
Karina Devine, the Warwick’s gallery director told ABC Southern Queensland that the installation was inspired by an old-fashioned kitchen (hence the phone). “I got a new oven last year, and kept my old oven so I could wrap my oven,” Devine said. “The most exciting part for me was creating the crocheted gas flame, and hand sewing the orange flecks.That gives me a little bit of a kick every time I see it.” (Via Lustik and ABC Southern Queensland)
Marie-Lou Desmeules is French-Canadian artist currently based in Spain who uses layers of paint and plastic to perform “surgery” on people, sculpting them into bizarre representations of celebrities, world leaders, housewives, bondage, and more. Encounter Desmeules’ creations and you will undoubtedly look twice (or thrice): her “living canvases” are alarming and oftentimes grotesque. The slabs of paint make her sculptures look as if their skin is about slough off like wax in a fire, leaving a mouldering skeleton beneath (when, in fact, there is real flesh and bone). The glued-on hair also lends to a creepy, cadaverous effect. There is a tangible element of satirical humor, as well; from Obama’s Mickey Mouse ears, to fashion icon’s Karl Lagerfeld’s melted face, to the manic smile of a woman on a blind date, Desmeules has done a brilliant job exploring the line between disgust and delight.
Shock and intrigue aside, Desmeules’ choice of “living portraiture” is rife with social commentary. By disfiguring admired cultural icons such as world leaders and celebrities — people who always appear to be perfectly composed — she playfully “dethrones” them, unveiling them in all their flaws and fleshly humanity. As John J. Staughton writes:
“Celebrities are praised for their beauty and perfection, yet that isn’t what makes them so desirable or recognizable, as Desmeules’ work shows. It is actually the very fact of their fame and prominence that draws us to them; they are as grotesque and outside the realm of normalcy as anyone with a humpback or a facial deformity. Our attraction is just as powerful in the opposite direction.” (Source)
As a further comment on standards of beauty and perfection, Desmeules calls her sculptures “surgeries.” Instead of a scalpel, her instruments are her paint brushes and hands, moulding “normal” people into “idolized” figures who end up mutilated by projected aspirations of status and beauty; what was once venerated and desirable becomes ludicrous and revolting. Desmeules’ work is a sobering — and amusing — reminder of the power of the image to influence and deceive. (Via Juxtapoz)
New York based artist Amy Hill modernizes the Renaissance. As you can see from the majority of her work, Amy draws her inspiration from fifteenth century Flemish painters. I really enjoyed her Bohemian series.
Jeff Eisenberg creates almost Rorschach-like images that hover somewhere between structural vector flights of futuristic fancy and strange biomorphic organisms. Conducted on multiple layers of mylar, they could almost be strange architectural blueprints for a sci-fi movie. He also works in the less common medium of sound installation. All inspired by automatic-writing creative exercises, the works have a strange, abstracted linguistic impulse. Read the full interview detailing Jeff’s studio practice, sources of inspiration and his unique brainstorming process.