Weekend link-o-rama

May 19th, 2012 | By | 1 Comment »

Lush. Photo by Lush

It’s that time of the week again… Here’s what I’ve been reading across the rest of the web:

  • Caber’s drips are fantastic.
  • Yes, there’s a new Banksy. Moving on…
  • I’d like to point out two fake Banksy social media accounts that I’ve been enjoying late. The first is the @BanksyIdeas Twitter account. It’s full of ideas for future Banksy pieces that will hopefully never be made. The other is The Real Banksy, a tumblr account made by Cardinal Burns. They are a comedy duo with a new show on E4 in the UK, and the guys behind this video. Their suburban Banksy character will feature in every episode of the Cardinal Burns show on E4. Here’s one of their new Banksy sketches.
  • Shepard Fairey has worked with Neil Young to make paintings inspired by Young’s latest album. The work will premiere at Perry Rubenstein Gallery’s brand new LA space in June during a one-day private event. Of the one piece previewed so far, the work looks distinctly Shepard Fairey, but also distinctly un-OBEY. I like it.
  • Saber is upset and taking to Twitter because this fantastic mural was buffed. While Saber seems to think that the wall was buffed for something related to the show Sons of Anarchy, The LA Weekly has the least biased overview of what’s gone down. Whatever reason though, it’s a real shame that that mural was destroyed. I must note that I find it interesting how, in the past, Saber has been all about the rights of property owners to do whatever they want with their walls, but now he has suddenly changed his tone and begun speaking out against public advertisements now that work by his friends has been destroyed. Glad to see the change of heart, but I’m disappointed that it took such an unfortunate incident for Saber to see some of the downsides to public advertisements.
  • Galerie F, possibly Chicago’s next art gallery focusing on street art, has taken to Kickstarter to help fund the repairs to their space that will make it usable a gallery.
  • Jordan Seiler’s latest endeavor is something quite different from PublicAdCampaign… It’s an augmented reality app for Android phones that will insert 3d murals onto potentially any building. Right now, it’s in the beta stages, but this could be huge. Sort of like what FriendWithYou did with Becks, but with even more potential.
  • Word To Mother’s show at White Walls looks great. That said, Word To Mother still seems to be finding his voice. He, as usual, experiments with some styles that are little-more than his own riffs on ideas by Barry McGee, Phil Frost and possibly Saber. In the past, he’s fiddled with things very reminiscent of Swoon and Monica Canilao. But the funny thing is that Word To Mother already has a style that is distinctly his own and almost all of his best work is in that style. While yes, the baseball bats inspired by Phil Frost are cool, it’s the original works on wood featuring characters and bits of text that are the stand-outs and the pieces that are most unique to Word To Mother. I understand not wanting to be boxed in and the urge to experiment, but this piece which clearly developed by spending a lot of time looking at Barry McGee/Phil Frost/maybe Saber is not the way to experiment. Still, overall looks like another cracker of a show from Word To Mother.
  • Two bits of Kaws news this week: He has a show in Hong Kong that his fans are going ga-ga for. I love the red Chum painting, but otherwise I’m not really bothered, although I think Kaws is, surprisingly, someone whose work is best appreciated in person so maybe I’m just plain wrong for being unimpressed by the jpegs. The big news for Kaws though is that there will be a balloon of one of his Companions in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November.

Photo by Lush


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UGLAR: L.A.’s Best Kept Secret?

April 25th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

PUSH x UGLAR x ZES for L.A. Freewalls

If that is the case, they aren’t hiding very well these days.

I suppose you could blame TNT’s popular TV cop drama Southland for some of that. The group’s “Painting the Painters” mural was prominently featured in a recent episode titled, oddly enough, “Risk.” In addition, UGLAR member Evan Skrederstu was commissioned by The Wende Museum (the same institution that commissioned RETNA, D*face, and Herakut to paint portions of its Berlin Wall) for the L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s “Play Me, I’m Yours” Project to paint a piano to stand across from LACMA, next to the wall segments.

The group has also completed two murals with ZES (including one in collaboration with PUSH for L.A. Freewalls), and features in the upcoming La La Gallery show.

The word is out, it seems. So who are they?

UGLAR stands for Unified Group of Los Angeles Residents and consists of five members: Evan Skredertsu, Christopher D. Brand, Steve Martinez, Espi, and Jose A. Lopez. They recently added ‘works’ to their name in honor of the great public works projects that were once commonplace in Los Angeles during the era of Rivera and Siqueiros. Originally, however, the group took their acronym from the Ulysses Guide to the L.A. River when they created a book celebrating the river and its inhabitants in 2008. This culminated in a show at the Pasadena Museum of California Art that featured Chaz Bojorquez and others. Perhaps what is most remarkable about that show is that the group fabricated and installed the entire exhibition by hand and brought the feel of the concrete L.A. riverbed indoors by obliterating the white gallery walls.

And yet, just a glimpse of their work shows it to be incredibly diverse. Martinez paints, photographs, and is the only member to use Photoshop in conceiving his pieces. Lopez graduated from graffiti lettering to abstraction years ago, even taking to etching some recent works on copper. Espi adds a spiritual element to the group it seems, but what else would one expect from the Art Director of the Los Angeles Friends of Tibet?

As a group, they do far more than walls. They are kings of scale, from the huge to the tiny, from murals to bugs. Yes, bugs. The story goes that Skrederstu and Brand were painting in the L.A. River a decade ago and accidentally sprayed a cricket blue. What grew out of that happenstance is amazing to see. Yet, what I find so fascinating is they do more than simply paint, and they don’t work exclusively with aerosol. Brand also sculpts, and is capable of some incredibly lifelike pieces similar to those of Ron Mueck. By way of example, check out the severed head below.

At a time when many are asking if street art can transition indoors (obviously the techniques can, but how well, and to what effect?), it is fascinating to watch contemporary street artists adapt to new spaces after having few limits. I can’t help but wonder which artists will transcend such labels by producing regardless of venue, and which will be limited in new environs. Considering the breadth of UGLAR’s skills and polish, it seems reasonable to conclude that they have all the potential necessary to effectively make that leap. Perhaps most importantly, they don’t seem satisfied to work exclusively on the street, but anywhere their creativity takes them.

UGLAR's "Painting the Painters" on Southland (© TNT)

"Old Blue Eyes" by Evan Skrederstu (Piano Painting Process)

"Abstract Warfare I" by Skrederstu, Brand, Lopez, and ZES

"Starting of a New Metropolis 1" by Jose A. Lopez, Etched on Copper

"Namakubi 2" by Christopher D. Brand

"Untitled (WWII)" by Evan Skrederstu

All photos courtesy of UGLARworks. For more photos click here


Category: Art News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Upcoming: L.A. Freewalls Inside

April 17th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

A note from the editor: Yes, the Daniel Lahoda in this post is the same Daniel Lahoda who was investigated by the LAPD and complained about online on numerous occasions. While, to my knowledge, Lahoda has never been arrested and none of the past complaints have resulted in civil litigation, there were a lot of complaints about Lahoda being brought up consistently for a number of years. It’s impossible for me to say for sure what happened in Lahoda’s past. What I can say is that he does seem to be making an honest go of things with his current projects. I’ve had personal issues with Lahoda myself, but as far as I am concerned, this new gallery of his is a time for second chances. Since the last of the complaints against him surfaced, Lahoda has gone above and beyond with his noncommercial ventures like the LA Freewalls Project and involvement in changing LA’s mural regulations. If you asked me today, “Would you do business with Daniel Lahoda?”, my answer would be a cautious yes. If Lahoda did make mistakes in the past, I do not think he will make those mistakes again. Consider this aside as my way of publicly putting rumors and allegations from Lahoda’s past in the past and instead deciding to focus on the here and now. – RJ Rushmore

Daniel Lahoda’s L.A. Freewalls project has changed the face of the Arts District in Los Angeles. That much is inarguable. In fact, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine what the old warehouse district looked like without the rotating gallery at 7th & Mateo, ROA’s outdoor exhibition spanning Jesse and Imperial, HOW & NOSM, DABS & MYLA, Shepherd Fairey, and perhaps most indelibly, JR’s L.A. Wrinkles. Trust me, this is a good thing.

So what happens when these muralists that have transformed a neighborhood bring their work inside to the brand new LALA gallery? Can it maintain the same level of energy? The verdict will have to wait for the opening, but at first glance, you simply cannot argue with that lineup.

Up-and-coming artists like Anthony Lister, ASKEW, and ZES, all of whom have recently had some of the hottest shows anywhere, are in it. ZES’s mural partners in Little Tokyo and in L.A. Freewalls (alongside the incomparable PUSH, who is also in the show) UGLAR, are represented in the forms of Evan Skrederstu and Christopher D. Brand and possibly some special guests. On top of that, there’s HOW & NOSM. There’s Dan Witz. That alone is a killer group.

But throw in someone like, oh, I don’t know, Ron English–not to mention MOCA “Art in the Streets” vets like Shepherd Fairey, SABER, RISK, and SWOON? Well, let’s say that things just got serious. And they might get crazy too. In a good way. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Quite honestly, I haven’t seen this kind of excitement around in a while. Ever since Art Walk wrecked Gallery Row with its costly series of missteps, Downtown Los Angeles has been bleeding galleries. Upper Playground is gone. Mr. Cartoon’s shop is gone. Worst of all, Bert Green Fine Art, the originator himself, is gone too. The truth is, Downtown L.A. needs an innovative gallery–one willing to take risks, one unafraid to offend or prompt dialogue–more than people think.

Can LALA Gallery be one of those? Come April 21, we’ll find out. But on the evidence of the incredible show roster, it’s off to a very promising start.


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Progress: UGLAR x ZES Mural

February 24th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

UGLAR x ZES, as yet untitled mural

As RJ recently mentioned, L.A. is alive right now and ZES’s “Excavated Revelations” (a collaboration with RETNA which runs through February 25 at Known Gallery) is a big part of that.

But shows aren’t the only thing contributing to that feeling. Commissioned by the Holdup Gallery, ZES is currently collaborating with UGLAR’s Evan Skrederstu and Jose A. Lopez on the facade of the old Brunswig Drug Company Factory Building in Little Tokyo.

Originally built in 1931, this art deco tower now hosts a seamless integration of ZES and Lopez’s abstract work, one flowing into the other–and echoing, with one of ZES’s trademark curvatures in its lower left corner, a nautilus shell’s curl. These bursts of color frame an unsettling juxtaposition: an orangutan holding an AK-47 and what will be a walkie-talkie when Skrederstu completes it.

Location: On 2nd, west of Central, next to the Second Street Jazz Bar.

Close-ups: Skrederstu's Orangutan, Lopez & ZES's Flowing Abstractions

Photos by Ryan Gattis


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags: , , ,

UGLAR’s “Painting the Painters”

November 30th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Courtesy of UGLAR. Click image to view large.

Balancing elements of local heritage with commentary on the process of large-scale, public works-style painting, UGLAR recently utilized techniques of fine art and street art to pay tribute to L.A.’s three greatest contemporary muralists, Willy Herron III, Kent Twitchell, and Chaz Bojorquez, with a massive mural just north of Chinatown called “Painting the Painters.”

Roughly 20 feet high and 100 feet long, the piece features several crewmembers depicted in the process of painting it (anchoring its left side is a larger-than-life Sergio Diaz, and spaced throughout are life-sized representations of Jose. A. Lopez and Evan Skrederstu), as well as a color-chart chameleon whose scales reflect every hue in the piece, and Tlaloc, the Aztec rain deity. It’s a piece that honors those that came before while commenting on the process of mural-painting, and could only have sprung up on the streets of L.A.

Location: 1726 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Sergio Diaz (L), Willy Herron III (R), and Christopher Brand touching up a tentacle.

Kent Twitchell

Chaz (In Progress)

Tlaloc and the Chameleon

Photos by Ryan Gattis unless otherwise stated


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