Category Archives: Art

A Clay Statue For El Chile

Clay Woman of El ChileIt was the second day of construction. We were supposed to be building, but the supplies still hadn’t arrived. We were hanging out near the half constructed bodega that we were working on and started noticing the clay.

Natural inclination is to make little balls of clay. My soon to be sculpting collaborator Saelee mentioned Hikaru Dorodango, the Japanese art of polishing balls of mud until they are shiny. Tried that, and it did not really work out. Plus, I think you have to do it for a long time.

The mud balls – er clay – turned into an attempt to make a basketball out of clay for a quick game.

Also was not successful, but that basketball became the base for our “snowman”, which grew more elaborate as Steve – another esteemed colleague – began to gather small bits from around the construction site: roasted corn husks, flower petals, coffee beans, sticks, wood shavings. Really much of the natural detritus of the village.

It started to form. Eyes, ears, mouth, hair, lips, eyebrows, nose and arms. Then some clothes.

As we worked on this figure, more and more people from the town coming to watch. Absorbed, we did not notice that we had a huge audience until we were almost finished and at one point I remember Saelee asking, “there are a lot of people watching, aren’t there?”. I don’t really know if the people were thinking that we were just crazy gringos or some wayward santeros. Probably the former, right?

The end result is what you see in the accompanying picture: a fully formed clay woman.


I spent last week drinking beer and riding my bike around the Black Rock Desert. Exactly what the doctor ordered to clear all the BS outta my psyche(for the time being I guess) and to return to life and work much refreshed.

There is a lot I could say about Burning Man, and risk being a “Burning Man Bore” but to me the real kicker, and the real reason that I love going out there is to spend quality time with friends that I don’t often get to see. I love the aspect of a coordinated vacation.

But yeah. You can expect hundreds of picture from me and them over the next couple of weeks.

And if you emailed me in the last week – I will be getting to you soon. I really should have set an auto-responder, but OK, I didn’t.

How We Made Our Wedding Invitations

In sticking with our “homemade wedding” script, we decided to make the invitations for our Croatian wedding ourselves, through the industrial magic of silk-screening. This after investigating a number of options such as letterpress or Crayola.

We knew from the get go that the graphic that we wanted was one of a traditional stone house from the island of Brac – circular and made from the white stone known as Bracki Kamen(literally “Brac stone” in Croatian). Luckily, we have a scale model of this, which served as a more than willing subject for our photo session.

Then I took the photograph into Photoshop and constructed a graphic from it. I made it into a flat black and white image by adjusting the brightness levels until I got just the balance that I wanted, and added some embellishments.

Separately I set the text, which would be the second of two screens that we would use to make these invites.

After that, it was time to do a little shopping. First, we needed to get the actual screens that we would use to make the invitations. Two screens – one for the text, one for the graphic – done at 160 mesh. Along with the screens we needed inks and various other supplies such as stirrers.

After getting the screens taken care of, we headed over to McManus and Morgan(I am linking to the Google cache because there site always seems to be down, sadly), a superb paper shop near MacArthur Park, where we browsed a wide variety of amazing decorative and art papers and envelopes(seriously, check em out). Ending up with a stack of white paper for the invites, and some nice brown envelopes.

After that came the screening, which is fun once you get a rhythm and a flow going where you just create them one after another, like magic. First we did the graphic in color on one side, then flipped it to do a light graphic background and the text on the other.

After that we stuffed the envelopes. One thing to note is that we made our own postage stamps using a service called Zazzle, which lets you make customized postage from your Flickr pix for a nominal fee. We were rather pleased with the results and the feedback has been great.

Ghanaian Kickboxer

I have long had a real thing for homegrown African movie posters. They are the kind of thing where they just throw the branding away and go with what they feel. And I can appreciate that. I saw a book full of these posters once at Book Soup, and was instantly enthralled. The loving renders of Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Woody Allen and various Nigerian stars appealed to me with their honesty. Plus they color and the way they are drawn looks really cool.

ghana-14Anyways, the particular case that I wish to discuss is regarding an example that I found on a page of African movie posters(it’s in French, so if you don’t read French you are pretty much SOL or you can go to Google translator). It is a poster for Jean Claude Van Damme’s 1989 blockbuster “Kickboxer”.

We see that instead of the standard issue boxing gloves normally favored by kick-boxers, he has on his hands rags embedded with shards of broken glass. Is that Ghanaian style kickboxing?

I guess in Ghana it’s not really kickboxing until you suffer multiple lacerations. That’s just how they do it. It sort of reminds me of the time when a kid at my school got into a fight with the Japanese foreign exchange student on the basketball court and the foreign exchange student went over to the side of the court and picked up a broken bottle. I was like, “Psst, normally around here we punch – or more realistically – just clumsily grapple each other. No need to send him to the hospital for a silly basketball dispute.” Every country has their own rules I guess.

So it’s this type of local touch that really makes these posters appeal to me. I guess its the same reason that Turkish ET will always have a special place in my heart.

Arroyo in Miniature

Mary-Austin Klein(aka half of Echo Two Niner) is having an opening this Saturday, April 1st at Bliss Gallery in Pasadena. “The Arroyo in Miniature, Memento Paintings to Treasure”:

Featured in this solo show of most recent works by Mary-Austin Klein are small-scaled (2 x 3 inches) oil paintings of views along the Arroyo Seco. Delicate concrete bridges, homes clutching the crumbly hillsides and the immense wall of the San Gabriel Mountains come together to make a show depicting a utopian vision and a consciousness of denial that exists in southern California. Living in a region with geological forces that can change the landscape in a moment’s notice, these paintings are to be future mementos to remind one of what once was.

Art vs. Taste

Yesterday, I was briefly involved in a discussion about the difference between art and taste, and what constitutes “artistic ability”. I will outline a few of my opinions(not necessarily the opinion of management) on the topic, “after the jump”.

Art is something that comes from practice. Practice and study: study of concepts relating to a particular medium, for example: line, composition and perspective in photography, and the practice of using the tools(pen, sword, Photoshop, guitar, etc) and accompanying technical skills to better express the knowledge one has of those concepts, as well as the idea that originally inspired you.

Art is something that must be practiced and studied. Anybody can express themselves – we are all crying when we come out of the womb. But art is the ability to express yourself and your ideas well through the efforts you make to increase your skill in a particular form. The main ingredient in becoming a great artist is essentially hard work and dedication. You don’t get credit for being an artist until you actually do the work.

Accompanying this practice of art is the ability to have good taste. The two things go hand in hand: someone with good taste has the beginnings of artistic inclination, maybe without the accompanying practice, but they might have “a good eye”.

Good art depends upon people with good taste, in essence to act as amateur(and in rarer cases, professional) critics to offer feedback by the act of choosing to support(aka buy) the work of an artist, designer or craftsman or not. This “critical filter” helps the artist to understand the needs of the people to whom he or she is trying to relate.

Of course – and I should have mentioned this earlier(I guess I just considered it to be common sense?) – taste is completely subjective. What I consider “good” you might consider “tacky” or “middling”. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so in the end a solid judgment of something comes from the actual execution(which can in many cases be judged by adherence to certain “objective” principles such as composition), how well the artist demonstrates the craft that they have taken years to master. Often I will look at something that is not my cup of tea and think “Well, I don’t particularly like it; but damn they did a good job”.

That said, I have difficulty writing about art – I often ramble(and for that I sincerely apologize to all two of you out there who got this far). I am much better at actually making it, than trying to analyze it, but I thought the discussion I had raised some interesting points and I wanted to see if I could possibly address them. I am still practicing becoming a good writer, so my expression here may be crap – I pray you forgive me.

Oh, and to any of my MFA friends: feel free comment me a new one.

A Little More On Playstation Portable Graffs

Not to beat a dead horse, but I want to talk a little bit about the fake Playstation Portable graffiti by Sony. Since it has been talked about to death(I first saw these in New York), I don’t really have much more to ad except that Sony has really been shooting themselves in the foot lately.(first the DRM, and now this.)

Wooster Collective presents this arresting image of a Sony hired gun artist doing it for money.

Below is an image portraying public reaction(and by public I mean taggers and street atrists) to these corporate incursions. Image from Vidalia.

Also, here is an informative thread on Flickr, in the Graffiti group.

Despite this fiasco, I bought a Sony Vaio laptop last month and it’s pretty ill, so I will give them credit there. I just don’t want to see Vaio graffiti written on my kitten. Stick to advertising in computer magazines you nuts. Nobody like ingenuous “urban” crap.