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Noted poster artist dragged into local election fracas over charges of anti-Semitism
10.15.2014
01:45 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Politics

Tags:
Kent Smith
Derek Hess
Mikhail Alterman


 
Amazing the trouble that a reaction-baiting local TV news segment can work up, isn’t it? In Euclid, a small city to the east of Cleveland, Ohio, the race to send a representative to the state house in Columbus recently got a healthy injection of political punk art—not always the most welcome addition to a candidate’s resume. The controversy stems from a book that one of the candidates wrote in 2008, a book of good old-fashioned pamphleteering called Please God Save Us. The text of the book is by current Euclid school board member and possibly future state representative Kent Smith, and the art is by renowned master of the punk rock poster idiom, Derek Hess.

On September 22, a markedly one-sided news segment by political reporter Tom Beres on local station WKYC all but accused Smith of being a virulent anti-Semite—over a book that has nothing to do with Jews or Judaism—because Hess (not Smith), in order to land a specific point about specifically extremist brand of Republican thinking—incorporated a modified swastika in some of the images. Predictably, it isn’t all that difficult to get the vox populi tut-tutting if you show an older voter a picture of a swastika and refuse to explain the full context. The WKYC segment explains that Smith is listed as an author of a book that does have a weird kind of swastika-ish symbol on the cover and then cuts to some older women saying (and this is a quotation), “I find it very disturbing, I find it insulting,” etc etc. Basically a respectable TV station said “Boo!” to some random shoppers in a retail mall and got them to say “Eek!”
 

 
Kent Smith finds himself in a tough race with Republican Mikhail Alterman and Independent Jocelyn Conwell, a race that would be a shoo-in for the Democrat if not for some gerrymandering shenanigans from 2010 that put portions of impoverished (read African-American) East Cleveland and predominantly affluent and Jewish Beachwood into the previously unified 8th district of Euclid. Alterman is an interesting guy, a former metal DJ at WRUW, the radio station of Case Western Reserve University—hey wait, don’t you reckon Alterman has to have purchased more than a few pentagrams in his day? Does that make him unfit for office? (For the record, Cleveland.com, the online presence of the Plain Dealer, enthusiastically endorsed Kent Smith on October 3, saying that Alterman is “armed with lots of ideas but some don’t make sense.”)

I spoke with Smith on Sunday evening. He insists that there isn’t anything to the charges, reasoning that the book has been in circulation for a while without anyone objecting to any anti-Semitic content: “Mr. Alterman and the Ohio Republican Party are not objective book critics or art reviewers,” said Smith. “The reason they are offended by the positions taken in the book is because those positions run counter to their Far Right, Tea Party agenda for Ohio and this nation. Please God Save Us has been in circulation since 2008 and not one professional, impartial reviewer found it to be antireligious or anti-Semitic.”
 

 
The fuller context you need to know is as follows: Kent Smith is a responsible and accountable representative of his community; the book was an expression of Democratic anger directed at the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, and Smith is being branded an anti-Semite for images he did not draw in a book that has zero to do with Judaism. But more to the point, the book has been out for six years now. It was conceived in 2006, not long after the bitter defeat of John Kerry, when liberal anger over the excesses of the Bush administration was at its peak. The book was released on July 4, 2008, the heady days of Obama’s first presidential run, and received positive notices from many quarters, including the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Weekly, Real Detroit Weekly and Juxtapoz. The book received national coverage for a brief period, and to be frank, nobody said diddly squat about any anti-Jewish sentiment in the book. Kent Smith has run for office several times since then and the issue has never come up because it’s completely clear that the charges of anti-Semitism are utter nonsense.

The book has ten chapters, which tackle themes like opposition to creationism, opposition to fossil fuels, opposition to the Iraq War, support of stem cell research, and a few other topics like that. Where’s the substance to the anti-Semitism charge? Alterman threw a stinkbomb into the middle of the race as a kind of Hail Mary pass, but the tactic reeks of desperation and threatens to sully Kent Smith.
 

Kent Smith and Derek Hess
 
And what of Derek Hess, self-described “superhero + overrated artist” (the verbiage comes from his own website). Angry, oh so angry, intemperate, irresponsible Derek Hess? Come now, this is rank silliness. Hess is a gifted graphic artist of whom it can safely be said that moderation is not his strong suit. But who really gives a tinker’s damn about the political agenda of Derek Hess? He’s not running for anything. He’s an internationally acclaimed artist whose work the Louvre in Paris has calledune remarquable série d’affiches” (a remarkable series of posters); the museum has acquired some of Hess’ posters. Derek Hess is not an amateur, he’s not a crank, and he’s not a joke. If anything, the decision of Derek Hess to choose Smith as a co-author can only reflect positively on Smith.
 

Mikhail Alterman
 
Let’s talk about the “swastika.” It isn’t really a swastika, to begin with. You can see it on several of the images on this page—it’s a swastika that Hess has (rather cleverly) modified with some care to make a specific point. In the book, which probably nobody involved in this whole fracas has even read, Hess explains that the symbol in question, which variously appears on a U.S. flag where the stars would normally be and as a kind of elongated cudgel, is a “Crosstika,” elaborating further that the hideous red Republi-creature is holding a “half swastika, half cross” that is designed to “create blind faith and allegiance, much as the swastika was used by Nazi Germany.”  In other words, Hess is linking the swastika with the extremist right wing, which makes sense insofar as the original Nazis were an extreme and hyperconservative reaction to left-wing/collectivist political groupings like Marxism, socialism, and so forth. In other words, Smith and Hess aren’t advocating anything at all with respect to the stupid swastika.
 

 
One might ask, what is Mikhail Alterman’s objection to anti-fascist art? Why is he hostile to outspoken denunciations of fascism or movements that bear some similarities with fascism? Does every political objection have to take the form of “candidate X” strayed within 1000 feet of “annoying object Y”—is that where all thought processes have to end? Does anyone, Alterman included, really want a world like that? I’m pretty sure the answer is no.

As Smith said to me, “Neither Derek Hess nor myself are anti-religious – any religion. But we both strongly disagree with Republican Party positions on the economy, environment, going to war over trumped up claims and faulty intelligence, freedom to marry and women’s reproductive rights.  Please God Save Us is a rebuke to the Far Right and I do not back off from what I wrote.”
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Sugar skulls of the dead: Dia de los Muertos portraits of Blondie, the Ramones, Lemmy and more
10.15.2014
08:51 am

Topics:
Art
Punk

Tags:
Blondie
Joey Ramone

Blondie Parallel Lines Sugar Skull art by Ganbatte
Blondie Parallel Lines sugar skull album cover
 
Leisha Ganbatte is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Barcelona, Spain who enjoys creating sugar skull versions of punks like Blondie and the Ramones. Ganbatte’s designs appear on everything from posters to pillows and she’s even got a line of cat inspired stickers that feature images of Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie as Aladdin Sane. Ganbatte’s latest subject is the one and only Morrissey whose image she has emblazoned on a line of stickers along with lyrics from the Moz’s solo catalog. Swoon! Prices vary from item to item. Examples of the ridiculously cool stuff that is available in Ganbatte’s Etsy store follow.
 
Ramones by Ganbatte
Ramones
Joey Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Joey Ramone
 
Dee Dee Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone
 
Buddy Holly sugar skull by Ganbatte
Buddy Holly
 
Lemmy cat sticker by Ganbatte
Lemmy cat sticker
 
Aladdin Sane cat sticker by Ganbatte
Aladdin Sane cat sticker
 
Morrissey stickers by Ganbatte
Morrissey stickers
 
Joey Ramone pillow
Joey Ramone pillow
 
Dee Dee Ramone pillow by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone pillow

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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David Lynch not being Lynchian enough according to New York Times
10.14.2014
01:25 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
David Lynch


I Burn Pinecone And Throw In Your House (2009)
 
New York Times art critic Ken Johnson does not like David Lynch’s new art exhibition, David Lynch: The Unified Field, and not because he doesn’t like David Lynch. No, Johnson seems to be under the impression that Lynch’s work isn’t Lynchian enough, saying:

Is Mr. Lynch as compelling a fine artist as he has been a filmmaker. The short answer is no. Images of sex, violence, trauma and black comedy abound, but many of the qualities that make his movies so singular—so “Lynchian”—are missing. The convoluted narratives, shifts from noirish realism to hallucinatory surrealism, erotic sensuality and creepy voyeurism, atmospheres of suspense and dread, mood swings from wonder to hysteria to bottomless grief, battles between innocence and evil: these dimensions aren’t fully realized in Mr. Lynch’s paintings.

First of all, I actually find Lynch’s art to fit very nicely within his larger canon, and I wonder why Johnson can’t see what appears so obvious to me (Eraserhead immediately came to mind). Mind you, Lynch actually started out as a visual artist, and since half of the work displayed was created before his film career (the other half being more current pieces), it’s ridiculous to say this isn’t a coherent body of work. More to the point, it’s surreal to hear a critic say an artist isn’t creating art within their own self-made idiom—I’m pretty sure whatever Lynch makes is going to be “Lynchian,” by definition.

A little more research into Ken Johnson’s previous criticism shows that he’s caught some flak for sexist musings on women artists, and once in a review of a black art show, argued black people aren’t suited to assemblage style sculpture because it doesn’t reflect their black suffering or some shit (I wonder what he’d do if he saw a black ballerina or black classical musician). I say enjoy Lynch’s paintings if they’re your thing—or don’t, if they’re not your cup of (hot!) coffee—but can we all agree that The Times’ art critic ain’t much of an authority on “authenticity?”
 

Boy Lights Fire (2010)
 

Pete Goes to His Girlfriend’s House (2009)
 

Bob Loves Sally Until She is Blue in the Face (2000)
 

Mister Redman (2000)
 

Hello (2012
 

Untitled, 1971
 

Sick Man with Elephantine Arm (1968)
 

Woman with Screaming Head (1968)
 

Flying Bird with Cigarette Butts (1968)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Walter White goes Gonzo: ‘Breaking Bad’ illustrations by Ralph Steadman
10.14.2014
01:11 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Television

Tags:
Breaking Bad
Ralph Steadman

Saul Goodman Ralph Steadman
Saul Goodman by Ralph Steadman
 
For the upcoming limited-edition Blu-ray release of Breaking Bad, show creator Vince Gilligan joined forces with Gonzo illustrator Ralph Steadman to create six different covers for each season of the show. Available in February, these spectacular collectibles will be sold exclusively by Zavvi.com ($30 bucks each). Pre-order is going on now but be forewarned, the Gus “The Chicken Man” Fring edition for season four (as well as Mike Ehrmantraut’s season five and Hank Schrader’s show finale edition) have already sold-out. Images from each of the six covers follow.
 
Gus Fring by Ralph Steadman
Gus Fring
 
Walter White by Ralph Steadman
Walter White
 
Hank Scrader by Ralph Steadman
Hank Schrader
 
Mike Ehrmantraut by Ralph Steadman
Mike Ehrmantraut
 
Jesse Pinkman by Ralph Steadman
Jesse Pinkman
 
Via Paste Magazine

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Berlin slated to lose two graffiti masterpieces
10.14.2014
08:33 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Berlin
graffiti
Blu


 

Anyone who works in the medium of graffiti can’t be too enamored of the possibility of permanence for his or her work. The destruction or evanescence of the works is kind of built in, whether the antagonist is the cops, the weather, or rapacious developers. But as graffiti becomes a more accepted part of the art world, the hopes for longer durations rises. A year ago, in October 2013, the incredible exterior of the legendary 5 Pointz space in Long Island City in Queens, New York, was painted over in stark white, a sobering reminder that the exigencies of commerce will generally trump a technically illegal grassroots art movement.

It looks like something of the sort will happen to the remarkable murals of the Italian street artist Blu in Berlin—murals that Artnet earlier this year named one of the five most important murals in the city. The Blu murals are located on Curvystraße, in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, and were painted in 2007 and 2008. One mural shows the torso of a man straightening his tie and wearing gold watches on both wrists which are connected by a chain. The second one shows two figures trying to unmask each other, with the one holding his fingers into a W (for West) and the other into an E (East).

Graffiti art has a special status in Berlin. Since 1989 the city has been defined by squatter culture, after the unused living spaces of the then-squalid Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg neighborhoods in East Berlin were occupied by young people—that tone has come to define the famously “poor but sexy” world capital. I visited the city in the summer of 2013, and the preponderance of graffiti was a little bit mind-blowing, it’s clearly semi-legal there and a source of scruffy, anti-establishment local pride. I was strolling in Kreuzberg when I happened upon a tour group that was on the theme of urban art and local left-wing activism—you’d be hard-pressed to find such a tour in New York City, let me tell you. I followed the group for the second half of the tour, and in fact the guide showed us the number three entry on Artnet’s list, the “Cosmonaut Mural” by Victor Ash on Mariannenstrasse.

It was reported last week that real estate investor Artur Süsskind and the architectural firm Langhof plan to tear down the buildings and replace them with 250 apartments, a kindergarten, a supermarket, and an open air terrace facing the Spree River. Not to be deterred, Berliner Jascha Herr has launched an online petition calling for the artworks to be protected under Germany’s monument protection statute. As Herr writes, “The city of Berlin loves to promote its alternative scene—and more precisely the cultural value of its artists—but it simultaneously discards them. It is simply about selling to investors who only see personal profit in the alternative landmarks of the city. But the cultural identity of the city belongs to all of us.” Unfortunately, it would be unprecedented for the landmark protections to be extended to artworks as young as seven years old.
 

 

 
Two nifty time-lapse videos documenting the creation of the two murals after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Satanic panic! ‘El-Diablo’ handblown glass bong mask
10.14.2014
08:06 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs

Tags:
Satan
Bong mask

El Diablo bong mask by Etai Rahmil
“El Diablo” glass bong mask by Etai Rahmil
 
Portland, Oregon-based glassblower, Etai Rahmil is the man behind a new line of handblown glass bong masks. Each fully-functional mask (to all you stoners this means you can toke up while wearing it) comes with an LED light stand, two-hole perc (or “percolator” for you non-stoner types) in the nose, and is decorated with an ounce of moldavite glass. Moldavite is a naturally occurring kind of glass that is formed following interplanetary collisions. The glass is only found in Czechoslovakia and most of the science community believes that it was formed around 14.8 million years ago following the crash of a large meteorite. And while just typing that gave me a contact high, it’s obviously a huge selling point when it comes to the masks hefty price tag of $6,500.

Serious stoners may inquire about the mask by contact Rahmil directly at etaiglass@gmail.com. You can also find the “El Diablo” model at The Cave in San Mateo, and the large and mini-sized “Mask of Moldauthein” (pictured below) at the Peace Pipe Smoke in Santa Rosa, California. More images of the masks follow as well as a video that shows the mask in use.
 
El Diablo glass bong mask by Etri Rahmill
El Diablo glass bong mask
 
The Mask of Moldauthein by Etri Rahmill
The “Mask of Moldauthein” glass bong mask
 
The mini glass bong mask Etai Rahmil
The “Mini” 10mm glass bong mask
 

 
Via the Weedist.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Artist paints generic ghosts over found photographs to haunting and nostalgic effect
10.13.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
photography
ghosts


Spin Me Round
 
Artist Angela Deane’s ghost photography complicates nostalgia with a very simple technique: she drapes the subjects of found snapshots in a “sheet” of white paint, dotting on two little eyes where appropriate. My first impulse was to see if Deane actually takes commissions (you know, for when you want the memory of the company, but not to gaze on your own misguided hairstyle or horrifying fashion sense), and it appears she does, counting Amy Sedaris among her clients. The motivation behind Deane’s work however, is one of anonymity as much as it is of recognition and belonging. Deane says:

These ghosts are the ghosts of moments, of days, of experiences.  With the specifics of identity obscured by paint I like to imagine it’s as if you and I can partake in the memory, share in the experience, allow the snapshot to seem familiar. Let’s share some memories, shall we?

Deane’s ghosts are actually quite cute—reminiscent of a classic Halloween from yesteryear, but there is also a haunting quality to her work (pun only half-intended). Humans are no longer the primary indicator of the time period, so we scan the film quality and details from the setting or landscape to tell when the picture was taken; viewers wander the space of the picture, regardless of its inhabitants’ identity, as if the present is now haunting the past. Nonetheless, the ghostly figures feel familiar, as if scratching off the paint would reveal a favorite uncle, your mother’s best friend from high school, or even your own younger face.
 

Beneath the Palms
 

Untitled
 

All For You
 

Reach for Me Across the Flowers
 

Together For Soup
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Is banned art-film, ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,’ the weirdest music movie ever made?


 
Director Todd Haynes is well-known for his arty, fictionalized depictions of music iconography. Velvet Goldmine was a glam rock epic, with characters modeled after Bowie and Iggy, while I’m Not There features seven different actors portraying “fictional” facets of Bob Dylan’s personality or mystique. Both films blur reality with stylized interpretations, but neither takes even a fraction of the liberties Haynes exercised with his 1987 grad school student film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.

The film opens up on Karen’s death, then flashes back to narrate her rise to fame. It’s a spasmodic format—switching between interviews with peripheral music industry people, random footage and fascinatingly elaborate mise-en-scène reenactments staged with Barbie dolls and melodramatic voice-overs. In reference to Karen’s anorexia, Haynes actually whittled down her Barbie effigy with a knife for later scenes, mimicking the progressive emaciation of her body. It’s a dark portrayal of a slow death, Karen and Barbie, both icons of American perfection, wasting away before our eyes.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is technically illegal to exhibit, although since the advent of YouTube, it’s a bit of a moot point (the upload embedded below was posted in 2012). Karen’s brother Richard sued Haynes for copyright infringement. MOMA has a copy but even they aren’t allowed to screen it. Even if Haynes hadn’t used Carpenters songs, there’s a good chance Richard Carpenter would’ve found basis for a lawsuit. Haynes portrays Karen as the victim of her narcissistic and tyrannical family, even suggesting Richard was closeted.

It’s difficult not to be sympathetic to Richard Carpenter who probably viewed the film as mere ghoulish, exploitative sensationalism. It’s a strangely invasive and voyeuristic piece of art, and the argument could be made that it’s totally unethical in its ambiguous, semi-biographical fiction. It’s also totally hypnotic, with a compelling narrative and a pioneering experimentalism that makes it one of the great cult classics.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Paris museum promotes Marquis De Sade show with orgiastic trailer (NSFW)
10.10.2014
11:54 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Sex

Tags:
Marquis De Sade
Musée d'Orsay


 
The Musée d’Orsay, the legendary museum dedicated to impressionist and post-impressionist art housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station in the center of Paris, has a big show on the legacy of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the Marquis de Sade, coming up in a few days (show starts October 14). The show, called “Sade: Attacking the Sun,” will focus on “the revolution of representation opened up by the author’s writings,” according to the museum. The exhibit will feature presumably challenging and sensuous works by artists such as Goya, Géricault, Ingres, Rops, Rodin, and Picasso. De Sade’s groundbreaking works include Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue and 120 Days of Sodom, which was later adapted by Pier Paolo Pasolini as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.
 

 
On its website, the Musée d’Orsay warns (in bold text), “The violent nature of some of the works and documents may shock some visitors.” A similar disclaimer might apply to the show’s promotional video, directed by video artists David Freymond and Florent Michel. In keeping with the Marquis’ licentious philosophy and writings, the video consists entirely of quick cuts of dozens of (mostly white) people engaged in group sex in a huge darkened expanse. The camera eventually pulls out to reveal that the bodies are configured to spell the word “SADE.”

Funny—the only orgy I was ever at, we spelled out the word “EXCELSIOR.”

The video is NSFW but that should be pretty obvious, and to be honest it’s pretty low-stakes smut…..
 

 
via Artnet

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Nightmarish horror photography from Russia
10.09.2014
11:26 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Russia
Photography

Dens by Moppaa
Dens by Moppaa
 
After looking through several pages of photographs by 27-year-old Russian photographer, painter and digital artist Moppaa, it didn’t really come as a surprise to learn that he started his art career engraving portraits on gravestones. Beyond that, there is not much known about this young artist but I did manage to dig up an interview he gave less than a month ago over at In Dark We Trust and gained a bit of insight into what makes Moppaa tick.
 
Moppaa (Eugene Kuleshov) says his interest in photography started in 2012 after he surprised his girlfriend with a photograph and “liked” her reaction to it. I can only assume that her reaction was positive as Moppaa has gone on to create some fairly terrifying images that often feature his girlfriend (who appears to be his wife now) as the subject. Moppaa’s goal as an artist is to make people “shit their pants” (me = mission fucking accomplished!) and is planning to publish a children’s book of horror stories. When asked to describe himself in three words he choose, “maniac”, “paranoid” and “artist” (me = agreed). So please, grab another pair of pants before you view the following images from this young, beautifully deranged artist. You can also view his full gallery here. If you need me, I’ll be under my bed.
 
Clown by Moppaa
Clown
 
Scout by Moppaa
Scout
 
They by Moppaa
They
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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