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Studio Visit: Alexandra Grant’s Bold Text Paintings

As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Alexandra Grant. See the full studio visit and interview with Alexandra and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.

Alexandra’s studio is in the historic West Adams district of Los Angeles, just a short distance from Koreatown and Downtown. From the outside her building looks like a non-descript, kind of funky commercial space that in no way expresses how big her studio actually is. The place is huge with a cavernous feel to it— cold, shadowy, and resounding with echoes, it heightened every one of my senses. Everything I took in seemed exaggerated: the damp air, the bright fluorescent lights, the vibrant colors of Alexandra’s paintings, and the steady rhythm of her voice. Long after our visit those impressions continued to linger, as did much of my conversation with Alexandra. She is a force to be reckoned with— her brain is agog with ideas that she expresses in a continuous flow of conversation, often jumping from one thought to the next as they wildly run through her mind. Her energy is infectious and inspiring, and makes you feel like the world is in fact full of promise, insight and adventure. Many of Alexandra’s paintings are collaborations with writers and their ideas, which makes sense because she appreciates the complex nature of dialogue: the exchange of both concepts and language, the act of deciphering and interpreting, the twists of subtext, and the inevitable losses in translation and how we make up for them. By borrowing writers’ poetic language she utilizes the format of dialogue to create “conversation” between image and text. In engaging text and image this way, the work then becomes a liminal space that challenges the viewer’s ability to perceive and hold both elements at once.

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Manuel Vason Interview

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Veenus Vortex + Manuel Vason Collaboration 2006

Seems like we have a sexual theme going today on the blog so I thought i’d add another post to the mix by sharing this great interview with Italian photographer Manuel Vason on one of my favorite new art&design blogs Yatzer. The interview is a great read so make sure to give it a look.

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Two Rabbits

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My good buddies at Two Rabbits Studios have recently updated their site and online store.  If you haven’t heard of these fellas, you should put your ears to the ground more often. Though they may be named after a small gentle animal, they are a stampeding herd of buffalos who will trample you with their design and printing skills.  They’ve done concert posters for all of your favorite musicians and probably your mother’s favorites as well. (P.S. They silk screened one of the inserts in Book 2).

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These Aren’t Your Grandma’s Embroideries: Alaina Varrone’s Erotic Stitching

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Alaina Varrone is a embroidery artist who, according to her, was born to a family of weirdos and storytellers. She uses this natural inclination to tell tales using thread which are often explicit and erotic in nature. We see naked men and women, sexual acts, and general kinkiness stitched into cotton fabric. Sometimes, Varrone will use delicate-looking floral patterns that add to the delightful absurdity of her work.

Typically, embroidery is seen as a craft, and an activity that’s a favorite among grandmothers (although it does have a thriving community of younger folks). It’s content is generally seen as inoffensive and family-friendly. Varrone has turned this convention on its head by sewing scenes that that are anything but. Her characters go after their desires and fantasies, creating an amusing juxtaposition between how we’re used to seeing embroidery versus all of its possibilities. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Chris Burnett

CalArts seems to always churn out great designers. Chris Burnett is no exception. His portfolio is full of work that lives and dies by the grid but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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While Sigur Rós is this year’s Headliner at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, I’m just as Excited to See Útidúr!

I’m heading back to Reykjavik, Iceland at the end of the month for my fourth trip to the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival! While I’m super excited to see Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men on their home turf, I’m just as excited to see Útidúr (pronounced: ooh – detour). There are so many amazing bands in Iceland and the Airwaves festival really gives you the opportunity to see most of them in various small venues around Reykjavik. Útidúr has this magical quality about them, kind of like the country itself – I’m talking to you Blue Lagoon. If you like Beirut, you’ll definitely want to check these guys out. You can stream and buy their debut album at Bandcamp and watch the live performance video for their song, Fisherman’s Friend below. 

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Chad States Explores Ideas Of Masculinity Through Craigslist Encounters

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“I want to show that, despite stereotypes, that gay men can be masculine too.

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“When I wear men’s clothes I feel comfortable and confident in how I look on the outside which now matches the inside.”

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“I have been called a SNAG (sensitive new age guy), a renaissance man, a male in touch with his feminine side, etc….I think that I am masculine in the sense of self reliance.”

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“I am strong emotionally, have always stood up for myself and fear nothing. I happen to be physically strong but that isn’t where I derive my masculinity.”

Philadelphia-based photographer Chad States creates ”Masculinities’,  a series of photographs and text devoted to create real, tangible accounts of men and their thoughts on masculinity in order to expose the complexities and difficulties in trying to define the masculine. States, interested in creating a large sample of men and their accounts, exposes his project on Craigslist and only takes subjects who are interested in participating in this project.

“Growing up as a gay man in the U.S. I have always been aware of how men were supposed to act and I judged myself against these ideas. Masculinity was always something that was attractive to me but when I tried to unpack what made someone masculine I found it hard to define. Masculinity seemed based on relativity and shifted in different circumstances and cultures.”

The series, inspired by State’s own struggles with understanding conceptions of gender at an early age, set out to investigate the matter by photographing these men in their home.  States explains that “the structure of the project created a special circumstance in which those who were still willing to participate had a strong need to have their own masculinity confirmed by the photograph.” The men got to choose the ways in which they were portrayed, they picked what they wanted to wear and they choose to stand by or sit in any position they felt truly comfortable in.

 I used a 4×5 camera only taking about 8-10 shots per sitting, so the poses and choices are very intentional on part of the sitter.” (via Feature Shoot)

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Beautiful/Decay 2011 New Years Sale!

2011 is going to be one hell of a year, so to start things off on the right foot we’re giving you 30% off the entire b/d shop for one week. Get that new b/d shirt, the missing copies of back issues to complete your Beautiful/Decay magazine collection, or perhaps even a grayscale beanie to keep your head warm. Just use discount code: new30year during checkout and you’re all set!

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