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.

Wreckage of the Dominator

Hull of the DominatorChristmas day seemed like a great time to visit the decaying hull of 44 year old crashed freighter scattered in pieces on the coast of Palos Verdes.

In March of 1961 the Greek freighter Dominator got stranded on some rocks at the base of the cliffs:

The Dominator was a sensational story at the time it went down after striking a reef one early evening in March 1961. It carried 29 crewmen and 9,000 tons of grain. There was no difficulty in saving the crew, only in saving the ship. Tugs struggled for several days, trying to free the freighter from the rocks as crowds gathered to watch from the cliff tops.

It has been sitting on the beach, rusting ever since. Here is a photo taken at some time in the early 1980s, showing the hull more intact than it is now.

To get there we used directions taken from, coupled with my trusty Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County guide(get one today, seriously). In both cases, the directions took a little interpretation, so we ended up finding a trail down the cliffs which the surfers were using to get down, at the corner of a bluff.

It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you like to take pictures. Plenty of excellent rust textures, and decaying bolts for macro fanatics. Be aware, though, that the terrain is plenty rocky, so be prepared for that.

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.

The Worst Intersections in LA

If you hate shitty intersections, then you will love the list of Shittiest Intersections in LA.

In the disclaimer, it is noted that these are not the busiest, but the shittiest. Intersections that are poorly designed or so hard to use for some reason, that they have made themselves shitty.

I am glad that the The Beverly/Temple/Virgil/Silverlake mind**** is featured, as well as any Trader Joe’s parking lot. Too true.

Not Amused By This New Traffic Scheme

Regarding Mayor Villaraigosa’s new traffic plan to post traffic cops at intersections, Skunks of Los Feliz writes:

I haven’t really noticed a positive effect on travel times at Beverly and Rossmore, which is the only intersection on my commute patrolled by traffic officers under Mayor Villaraigosa’s newly enacted traffic plan.

I would take it one step further actually and say that in some areas(I am driving Melrose or Beverly eastbound from Hollywood to Echo Park at traffic time), these well meaning officers have actually made traffic worse.

I first noticed the extra congestion last Friday – I was wondering what the problem was until I saw the traffic cops at major intersections. At first, I thought that the traffic lights were going haywire, so that’s why they were there. But it was not the case.

I feel like twenty minutes or so are added to my drive home, and even though I have an iPod full of the ultimate in music, I am not amused by this new traffic scheme. Maybe others will disagree, so I can speak only for myself – what do y’all think?