Tags archives: blog

  • Brooklyn's Slothrust will be releasing their second full length album later this week (October 28th) on Dangerbird Records, and if you're unfamiliar with this trio, it's time to give them a listen.  The new album titled, Everyone Else grabs you immediately with a surf rock instrumental track that makes you wonder what's coming next, and then you hear the melancholy vocal intro of track  two- "Like a Child Behind a Tombstone."  It's a slow build up into a guitar driven rocker with metaphors abound, and now you're hooked on lines like, "I think my face looks like glass, but my body feels plastic" and "I feel like a child hiding behind your tombstone."As impressed as I am with Wellbaum's eloquent lyrics, musically the band has great range. From the punk-esque, Violent Femme's like, edgey cut, "Trial and Error" to the bluesy "Horseshoe Crab" and the jazz influenced "The Last Time I saw My Horse," they achieve a range of music that isn't often heard from today's one trick pony, cookie-cutter bands.  And if you're into the more classic rock sound, "Mud"  takes you on quite a journey with a blues inspired intro, to a classic guitar driven, drum heavy rocker. Dare I reference the greatest of the greats Led Zeppelin?This is an album for music lovers who can appreciate the achievements of a band that's hitting it's stride and has the ability to capture the best of rock, jazz and blues on one album.--Frank JacksonYou can see them live at Irving Plaza on Saturday, Oct[...]
  • There was once a professor who consistently lamented people not spending time with a work of art. She felt that consuming art became speedy, mediums were not fully appreciated in their details, and therefore a lot of great artwork may never get proper recognition. It's safe to say this is true for many people, and even those like myself who studied art have definitely overlooked pieces due to the extreme saturation of available art to see, especially in a metropolis like New York City (though it is something I greatly try to avoid while in a space.)I was stuck in front of Scott Williams' painting 50th Street Maspeth this past weekend, due to the intimate space at Art101 being packed with people, but I'm glad I was. His work first appears like an impressionistic modern landscape - a view of the street, cars parked, sunny day, fence to the side - but the more I stared at it the more odd I found it. I noticed his use of perspective is based on traditional one-point perspective yet it is shifted off to the side thereby disrupting the everyday banality of this type of setting. Furthermore, his use of oil paint appears both deliberate, in regards to shadowing and color, and accidental in regards to the application of paint itself. This imbues the scene with a sense of randomness and further complicates it. He writes of his "chance" paintings - "For on site, 'plein air painting', a map of Queens and Brooklyn was marked with gridded coordinates. Throwing numbered and lettered coi[...]
  • I came across Katy Grannan's photographs at Salon 94 after visiting the New Museum next door. While individually they remain striking portraits, albeit not vastly unique in the photographic spectrum, what makes her work important lies in her documentary approach to the sleepiness, strangeness, and pathos of Modesto, California.Also the setting of her upcoming documentary, The Nine, the pieces ranged from large-scale individual portraits, to landscapes, and video clips. The portraits are blazing in their preciseness and their size allows for the individuals to tower over the viewers, commanding the most space and attention in the room they are in. The men are shirtless, and the women sport outfits that look like they're from the 80's. A look of disillusionment permeates through their faces, however, and in the case of the women, it betrays the vibrancy of their clothing.What's really at the heart of Grannan's work is a commentary on the American class system - ripe in the media these days thanks to shows like Making a Murderer - and "the other side of the American Dream." Modesto was the location in The Grapes of Wrath and Dorothea Lange's photograph Migrant Mother, both gripping portrayals of The Great Depression's physical and emotional effects on the psyche and physicality. And essentially, Grannan's work from Modesto serves as the setting of our contemporary depression. And the photographs speak for themselves in this regard - the subjects are present but not f[...]
  • "Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task." Henry James' words are apt in describing the art-making process, and how it can explore uncertainness through introspection. In the process, the artist and viewer enter into an intangible, unpractical, and highly emotional place that is ultimately the most passionate because it allows them to explore the more ambiguous realms of the self.This is exactly the intent and effect of "I DREAMT," New York performance artist Nicholas' Gorham's recent production. In it, he lip syncs sound bites by Delia Derbyshire, a leading British electronic musician from the 1960s. He was utterly fascinated by their evocative beauty, and knew he would eventually incorporate them into a performance. The sound recordings are different voices describing a nightmare of being chased, and Nicholas switches from one character to another in a matter of seconds. This is achieved by having light projections of different outfits cast onto his body, which is the sole illuminated presence in a darkened room. Coupled with the haunting repetition of phrases, such as "I'm running away...running, and running, and running" in each of the different voices, the result is dark, painful, but incredibly engrossing especially if you have ever had nightmares.He plans to take this the exploration of the subconscious further in his upcoming Christmas theater production, also focusing on time, space, identity, and superficiality but with a stronger social co[...]
  • I once read that people who see faces in inanimate, non-portrait objects, are neurotic, and the article did not mean that endearingly. If that's true, then children who make animal and human shapes out of clouds (so many) are neurotic. And truthfully, most artists are too. So with that, I will use this post to talk about an artists who plays with this idea in a rather beautiful way, and to tip my hat to those individuals who choose to and are able to view the world in a more fascinating way.Jane Lafarge Hamill's paintings combine traditional portraiture with modern abstraction. Her works first appear as a slather of saturated, vibrant colors, enhanced by her thick application of paint. However, though appearing haphazard, the way she has manipulated the paint allows for a vague, albeit familiar, image of a human's face to come through. Depending on how she has arranged the lines sometimes the face is in profile, sometimes face front.What really allows for the portraits to be visualized is not in the revelation of facial features, as they are pretty blurry, but in the way the lines make up the shape of the head - the forehead, jawline, and neck specifically. While this alone makes her painting style unique, what makes her work beautiful is her use of color. Her pieces are not exceptionally large, rather they are on the smaller side, yet they instantly pop out due to the layers of applied color and the vibrancy of the palette.What is especially contemporary [...]
  • I once had a friend ask me, "What exactly is graphic design?" The answer seemed pretty easy, as the name appears self-explanatory: design using graphics. But, truthfully, it was harder for me to get into the details of what exactly it is, even though it has been one of the most prolific and widely-used art forms in the modern era. And not unlike some other forms of modern art, there is the hackneyed response, "I could totally do that" while viewing graphic design that has been elevated to a higher status. In fact, I even heard it at the Cooper Hewitt's long-running installation How Posters Work.Amazing to hear that response, given the museum's breadth of information presented about not only about the history of the medium but also contemporary approaches to it. Furthermore, the beginning of the exhibit, before really immersing the viewer in the posters themselves, contains a section attempting to relay just how graphic designers see, and how it subsequently affects how we decipher messages from images, be they subversive or overt. For example, how designers use black space, how they visualize colors to lay over each other and blend, and the ways in which they see text aligned on a poster to result in certain reading patterns. That was particularly interesting as areas of posters are darkened except one swirl-type shape, and it notes that eyes begin at the thicker portion of the illuminated swirl, and move down to the thinner part across the page. Images are placed alo[...]
  • NURTUREArt's group show Sextant looks to our sense of reality and place as constructed from memory, history, and objects. While a serious subject, some works are able to retain playfulness, an example being Igor Ruf's video work The Cave (2015). The artist as actor recites the same lines over and over as he moves and dances around a cave space. Subtitles indicate that he is saying he has bananas and a guitar, among other basic necessities, and he doesn't need much else. We see Ruf repeating names and asserting his identity, and it's unbelievable in its goofiness. He touches on the ability objects have in shaping our memories and how those moments cumulatively form the perception we wish to have for ourselves, and for others to have of us, and he maintains a lightheartedness throughout. Calum Craik has two pieces in the show that also examine, as he writes in an artist's statement, "a hazy memory, actual events, and experience." He is more interested in pop culture, however, as he feels that "everyday objects act as vehicles to question and imagine...documents, photographs, and raw materials act as a mechanism to reconsider truths, events, or invent new possibilities." This certainly rings true in Lesiure (2013). A space blanket, shiny and geological-looking, is situated across a small image of a California pool that lays flat on the floor. Above this image hangs a small bowling ball resembling the earth. This creates a shadow on the lower left corner of the p[...]
  • Bushwick Open Studios wrapped up a while back and this year featured a lot of wild installations, fantastical sculptures, and a return to painting. While I was there, I stopped in Pablo Garcia Lopez's studio where I saw his work that mixed all of the three. A couple of weeks later, I went back to sit down with him and talk about his practice and transformation into an artist.Garcia Lopez did not begin working professionally as an artist until recently - his background is actually in neuroscience. He holds a PhD and still teaches classes. One of his published papers on Santiago Ramon y Cajal, known to many in the field as the father of modern neuroscience, plays heavily into his artistic practice. Cajal moved away from the accepted comparison of the mind to machines, and rather pursued the idea of comparing the mind to nature, specifically plants. Cajal said, "The cerebral cortex is similar to a garden filled with innumerable trees, the pyramidal cells, that can multiply their branches thanks to an intelligent cultivation, sending their roots deeper and producing more exquisite flowers and fruits every day." Writing in the 19th century, his words come into play much later in the silk sculptural installations by Garcia Lopez.After learning of his background and interest in this matter, I was immensely curious as to how exactly it manifests in the artist's religiously charged works. He explained that his use of silk relates to the individual fibers of the brain, and [...]
  • It was a cold Saturday afternoon, but I was motivated to trek over to Chelsea to check out the Kitchen Girls & Toy Boys show at Rush Arts Gallery.  Artists Sindy Butz and Sol Kjok are participating artists in the show and have both worked with AFP on various projects.It didn't take long for me to identify Sol's very large piece, "Strings Attached" as I walked into the gallery.  Her figurative work bursts off the canvas with great detail and her use of color brings out the emotion in her characters.  In this piece the characters are strung together and appear to be grasping and climbing over each other while still maintaining a certain co-dependence.I was impressed with the overall quality and diversity of the work in the show.  The work of Reinhold Gottwald caught my attention. His colorful, small, abstract pieces on wood are hung/arranged as if they are a group of  planets sharing the same solar system. I found Markus Fiedler's beeswax sneakers quite intriguing and an interesting piece(s) to be included in the show. I was impressed with the incredible detail he was able to achieve using beeswax.I noticed Sindy crouched down on the floor, but I didn't realize that her performance had already begun. What is she up to this time? Sindy's not afraid to take on the not so obvious social issues of the day. Her thought provoking work continues to evolve and this performance would not disappoint.  The message on the floor read, "The West Tastes like Gold." As Sind[...]
  • Over the course of the past few years, vinyl has made something of a comeback. Spurred on by nostalgia and hipster culture, records sales are once again on the rise and the average person has a turntable. This renaissance has changed not only the popularity of vinyl, but has also changed the access to records. You can find them everywhere from Amazon to Urban Outfitters. Younger artists, who may have missed the vinyl boat all together, are releasing new music in this older format. To meet the demand, several services have surfaced to supply music fans with the newest pressings. Here are a few options to help you expand your record collection and/or just explore new music:Vnyl is a record subscription service that has gotten a lot of press lately, both good and bad. Using Vnyl, subscribers can determine the contents of their delivery by indicating which “#vibes” they would like to go with. The hashtags to choose from range from #betweenthesheets to #cooking to #work to #danceparty and more. Once the records have been put togethers, they’re mailed to the user, much like in Netflix's old DVD-in-a-paper-sleeve model. From there Vnyl allows subscribers to hold on to records they love and return the ones they don’t. Subscribers can also track the journey of each record, from one Vnyl user to the next. Each person can comment on their experience and inform whomever gets the album next.Vinyl Me, Please funtions in a similar way. Much like a book of the month club or the free [...]
  • Were you at this past weekend’s Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival? If not, you missed borough-load of great parties, soundtracked by scores of brilliant artists and DJs. One of the best was the Rinsed closing party, held in a Bushwick warehouse space and featuring guest sets from the inimitable Detroit producer Omar-S, the always-worth-catching Chrissy and the Basement Floor label’s Turtle Bugg. In case you’re not familiar with Rinsed, the soiree has featured iconic artists and DJs along the lines of Inner City, MK, MJ Cole, Juan Atkins and Todd Edwards; stars of slightly more recent vintage like Jackmaster, Jacques Greene, Ejeca, Ben Pearce and Chris Malinchak; local players like Juan MacLean, Justin Strauss, Morgan Geist, Populette and Aurora Halal; and a list of outliers that includes Actress, NGUZUNGUZU, Ital, Sepalcure and Jaw Jam. Oh, and a bunch of other people, too—not bad for a shindig that, when it debuted four years ago, hosted about a hundred people in the loft space above Public Assembly. Nowadays, resident spinners Dan Wender and Blacky II, along with Rinsed’s indispensable “visual aesthetician” A.Pop, are among those running the show in Kings County. We asked the core gang, Brooklynites all, what they loved about their home borough, and here are their wide-ranging replies. A.PopSome things I love about BK:That you can find cappuccino Lays chips in Bushwick, the best slice of your life in Midwood, 24-hour amazing tacos in Sunset Park, or blue ribbon[...]
  • Celebrity ghost writer Michael Malice is the subject of Harvey Pekar's Ego & Hubris, and is best known for co-authoring books with prominent personalities like comedian D.L. Hughley. In an interview, Pekar aptly describes Malice as someone who is "motivated by things that are different than what motivates other people."  Take his recent output Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, which explores the life and influence of the beloved/feared former North Korean leader. Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Malice breathes new life into a little odd man from a "hermit kingdom" that many in the West would rather sweep under the rug of history.He's also a fanatic of obscure 80s finds.Follow him, Dear Reader, at @MichaelMalice. In the meantime, discover three of his prized personal possessions after the jump.-Jacqueline Colette Prosper, @yummicoco1) Traditional North Korean Suit Backstory: [When I was] going to North Korea, one of the things I really wanted was a handmade North Korean suit. There was someone on my tour who had one of those accordion cameras, like 1890s-y, but it was digital, and my guide did not know what that was. I'm like "oh, it's hipster," and then I tried to explain what "hipster" means. To a North Korean it was very hard for me to do, but fortunately good friend Nichelle Stephens had given me a definition years ago to mean "someone who likes anything that's old," so I said that's what "hipster" means. Later[...]