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Ultimate Americana: Portraits of sleazy 70’s motels
07:00 am



Mike Mandel is best known in the art world as one half of Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, the guerrilla artists that terrorized the Bay Area in the 1970s with their scathing billboard “advertisements” featuring flaming oranges and mushroom clouds. At first glance, the strange installations were graphically cohesive enough to blend in with the warm, modern scenery—the exact sort of scenery Mandel captured in his motel photography. Traveling across the country for this or that art project, Mandel started out collecting postcards from sleazy little motels, but eventually started taking pictures himself, taking the viewer on a sort of ghostly tour of long-gone 70s design and road culture.

...traveling throughout the country, my girlfriend at the time, Alison Woolpert, and I would stay at some, shall we say, “economy” motels. We pulled into one in Texas on a wintry night and upon waking in the morning we realized that the sheets had not been changed after the visit of the previous motel guest. When we indignantly complained to the owner he shot us back a dirty look, “What do you expect for five dollars?” What we did expect was that no matter how shabby, beaten down or forgotten a motel might have become, there was always a motel postcard to be had: a memento of a one night stop, a promotional calling card, a free mailable note card to report back on the progress of a vacation to those back home.

We would often take the back roads, sometimes follow old Route 66, and we would find those sad, forsaken motels that had been sucked almost out of existence by the newer corporate chains situated just off an exit ramp on the newer highways. We bypassed Motel 6, Travelodge and Howard Johnson’s. After all, their postcards were usually just the same design with a different address. But we’d go out of our way to stop at every independent motel we could find in hopes of finding a postcard that would be even more banal than the one we had just found down the road.

To the modern eye, everything looks retro and trashy (especially if you’ve ever stayed in a motel that hasn’t redecorated since this period), but the complete lack of human subjects gives the series a stark, tidy effect. I’d imagine a hotel could get some serious kitsch-seeker traffic if they tried to decorate like this today. Stay in a cheap, sleazy shithole and be “ironic.” What a great country we live in, eh?



More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Stunning mosaics of famous paintings and photos (and Hunter S. Thompson!) made entirely of LEGOs
09:24 am

Pop Culture

Hunter S. Thompson
Andy Bauch

Hunter S. Thompson LEGO mosaic
Hunter S. Thompson LEGO mosaic. Made with 7,393 LEGO bricks

Andy Bauch, an artist and software developer from Queens, New York (now living and working in LA), creates his incredibly detailed mosaics using thousands of LEGO bricks.

According to Bauch, his obsession with LEGO pieces didn’t start when he was a child, but rather later on in life. In 2010 Bauch created his first LEGO mosaic, a reproduction of a Roy Lichtenstein painting which came about in order to impress a girl. I’m not sure if Bauch’s attempt to find love by way of LEGO was successful, but his reproductions of two of Lichtenstein’s paintings,  “Girl with Hair Ribbon,” and “The Kiss V” are spot-on. It takes Bauch many thousands of LEGO bricks (with hundreds of dollars spent on the LEGO pieces themselves), and anywhere from ten to 60 hours to make one of his bricky works of art. When it comes to his creative process, Bauch is tight-lipped, preferring to credit a team of “pygmy hippos” as the driving force behind his painstaking pieces. Bauch’s LEGO portraits are also available for purchase (from $1,800 - $3,600 each) via his Etsy shop.
LEGO mosaic of
LEGO mosaic of “The Kiss V”. Made with 3,491 LEGO bricks (originally painted by Roy Lichtenstein in 1964)
More of Bauch’s LEGO mosaics, as well as a time-lapse video of Bauch putting together “Girl with Hair Ribbon,” can be seen after the jump.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The pornographic propaganda that was used against Marie Antoinette

Recently, the “newsish” website Gawker ran a nasty little expose on the CFO of a major media company, who had allegedly attempted to purchase sex from a porn star. Many readers were livid, citing an invasion of privacy, or even perhaps a whiff of homophobia in the story (the CFO and the porn star were both men). Gawker argued that their mission has always been to dig up dirt on the rich and powerful, and though there was some debate on whether or not the subject of their story was rich and powerful enough to constitute such focus, they argued the story constituted public interest before eventually retracting it with apology.

The scandal sparked a debate, with Jeet Heer over at The New Republic arguing that such nasty tactics aren’t productive praxis for class war:

The Condé Nast executive is seen as a legitimate subject for attack because of his wealth and class privilege. What the adherents to Gawkerism rarely consider is whether tabloid gossip is really the best tool for fighting a class war.

Unfortunately, Heer completely overlooks the fact that historically, gossip, libel and denigration have been an integral aspect of class war, and the tabloids have usually been the medium of dissemination. Just ask Maria Antoinette, for whom the libelle—a smutty little tabloid in the form of a political pamphlet—proved an incredibly effective piece of political propaganda. These were not sophisticated political tracts—they often simply depicted Antoinette in pornographic situations—orgies, incest, lesbianism—everything you could imagine. Sometimes the purpose of these cartoons was to actually accuse Antoinette of such acts, but often they were simply a form of degradation.

The cartoon above features Antoinette with the Marquis de Lafayette, a politician and general who fought alongside against England during the American Revolution. Considered a military hero, he was appointed to the National Assembly by the King, and though he remained a royalist, he sympathized with Revolutionary values and attempted to institute them politically. As a result, he was distrusted by both the revolutionaries and the monarchy. There is no evidence that he had an affair with Antoinette; the cartoon is actually intended to illustrate Lafayette’s allegiance to the crown. His “steed” is a pun, as the French word for “Austrian” is very similar to “ostrich,” and Antoinette was often referred to as “Austrichienne,” or “Austrian Bitch.”.

You may find the tabloids gauche, you may find their targets undeserving, you may even argue that we live in a more civilized time—a time when tabloids should be retired in favor of more dignified debate and politics; but if you’re wondering whether or not tabloids are effective in class war, I’d remind you that the road to the guillotine has always been paved with smut.

Marie was often depicted in lesbian trysts, generally assumed to be Yolande de Poligna or Princesse de Lamballe. The text reads, “I now breathe only for you, a kiss my beautiful angel.”

In a subtler comic, Marie stepping from Versailles to safety, bearing the King and Prince on her back, giving the French people a view up her dress in the process.
More 18th century political smut after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Wes Anderson tributes: Because fan art is deep if it’s mopey & twee
09:54 am


Wes Anderson
art show

Martine Johanna, “Oh..Margot”
I once heard someone refer to Wes Anderson’s films as “expensive dollhouses,” which, while bitingly pointed, I find a little harsh. For one thing, I think Rushmore is a masterpiece, and even if his later films don’t possess whatever intangible quality I loved most about Rushmore, they’re obviously not throwaways. For another, while the uncannily warm, color-corrected tableaux of Anderson’s later work can be a bit twee, they’re undeniably beautiful and intense—and who doesn’t love a good dollhouse? Nonetheless, there is an aesthetic cult around Anderson’s work that goes way past appreciation and borders on corny. You know the crowd; ukuleles, cardigans, deep in pouty ennui, only know the really pretty Velvet Underground songs (and can play them on the ukulele). They’re not hard to pick out of a crowd, and now they’re featuring their Wes Anderson-themed art in serious gallery shows.

The Anderson-inspired art show, titled “Bad Dads”—I presume in reference to his constant theme of disappointing paternal figures—started in San Francisco in 2010, and was originally advertised as an art show/costume party (imagine a million girls dressed as Margot Tenenbaum trying to look sullen, yet beautiful, ugh). The show proved so popular that it’s now going on its sixth run, this time at the Joseph Gross Gallery in NYC. Below you can see art from the upcoming feature, as well as work from previous events, some of which has already sold for a pretty penny.

I’m torn, because not only is it an interesting experiment to take what is essentially fan art out of the DeviantArt ghetto and put it into the “respectable” art world (and don’t kid yourself, it is fan art), but also, some of this stuff looks quite good! (I’m particularly fond of the Kanye West crossover, since a contemporary sense of humor is a nice contrast to Anderson’s out-of-time pastels.) On the other hand, Wes Anderson? Really? Aren’t their directors who could inspire more exciting and varied shows? What about Kubrick? Truffaut? Kurosawa? How about anyone who doesn’t have a favorite Parisian taxidermy shop?

There’s only so much mopey and twee one can take!

JOEMUR, “I’m going to kill myself tonight”

Hari & Deepti, “I Wonder If It Remembers Me…”

Ivonna Buenrostro, “What’s Wrong With You?”
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The men of ‘Twin Peaks,’ drawn as Sailor Jerry style pin-ups
08:03 am


Twin Peaks
Emma Munger

Several months ago when we showed you Emma Munger‘s wonderful Sailor Jerry-inspired pin up artwork of the women of Twin Peaks, one of our readers posted the comment “Where are all the half naked men covered in logs? We demand equality!” Perhaps the artist heard and heeded that plea, because she’s added the MEN of Twin Peaks to the series.

And there’s a really funny twist: these aren’t beefcake poses. Just like the women, the guys are drawn in the manner of female pin ups. Which is hilarious on Ed Hurley,  the Horne brothers, and Pete Martell, but frankly disturbing on Killer Bob and One-armed Mike. And the pin up of Dr. Jacoby? Yeah, that one’s in a class all by itself. Prints of Munger’s work are available from søciety6.




See more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
KISS: Their X-rated early days
09:30 am



Before KISS became a kid-friendly marketing machine with their own line of dolls and comic books aimed at the eight-to-sixteen demographic, the group maintained a darker, edgier, and more decidedly adult image. KISS, after all, came from the same sleazy New York scene as the Dolls and were demonstrably more musically aggro than most of their early ‘70s contemporaries—and let’s not forget the lyrical themes of alcohol abuse, prostitution, pedophilia, and anal sex

It was during these early years that KISS recorded their second album, Hotter Than Hell. Though it contains some of KISS’ best songs, the record suffered from notoriously muddy production. The cover artwork, while striking with its Japanese-inspired visuals, also suffers from a degree of print-muddiness in the photo images of the group. What ended up on the album sleeve barely hints at the debaucherous photo session that spawned those images. Some sources have described this shoot as having devolved into a full-on “orgy,” although Peter Criss’ ex-wife, Lydia, has played down those allegations.

Kiss Fan Site has reprinted some outtakes of the Hotter Then Hell photo session, along with quotes from the band members describing the wild shoot. One wonders how history would look back on KISS if they had kept with the Bacchanalian “sex and drugs and rock and roll” image implied in this shoot. Photographer Norman Seeff emerges as the character responsible for much of the insanity. Apparently everyone was wasted, except for life-long tea-totaller, Gene Simmons.

This is definitely not the kid stuff we saw a few years later with Marvel Comics and Hanna-Barbera TV movie productions. The mise-en-scène of furs and rugs and glitter and skulls and ropes and Coors cans with drunkenly splayed, mugging, groupie-groping band members is, if nothing else, a beautiful rock and roll mess.


Gene Simmons: We did a photo session with Norman Seeff in Los Angeles. Norman was a very bright but strange guy who believed that photo sessions should be this other thing. So he would create a climate and bring down everybody and anybody. Girls who would blow you, anything that would happen just to get a sense of something.



Peter Criss: It was a wild photo session for the back cover. I was sitting in the armchair there with this broad giving me head with this mask on. It was really fucking wild. Paul was in bed with a bunch of broads and me in a robe over this big knight’s table’s chair. The photographer [Seeff] got us all drunk. That was the idea. He got us all loaded. Everyone was drunk except Gene but Gene had to be drunk on the whole room being drunk. Even the models and the people in the room were drunk. No one was sober but Gene but he had to be intoxicated from just the intoxication of the whole vibe.



Paul Stanley: I don’t know if anybody can make out the back cover of the album but we were having this wild, wild party with tons of people in weird outfits. Ten minutes after that picture was taken I passed out. I cut my hand, I don’t know how I did it. It was pretty strange. I was so drunk that they locked me in a car and I couldn’t find my way out. Like any of the Fellini films, Satyricon, it was bizarre but it was really great too. It was a party unlike most others that I’ve been to. A lot of the pictures taken for the back cover have never seen the light of day because some people didn’t want to be incriminated by the pictures. Someone would go, “Oh, I can’t let so-and-so see me at that party.”



Norman Seeff: The Hotter Than Hell photo shoot was done at the Raleigh stages in Hollywood. The front and back cover were shot on the same day. I had just come back from Japan and met one of the great Japanese artists, Tadanori Yokoo. He was a combination of Timothy Leary, Andy Warhol, and Picasso. I think the way KISS were dressed and who they were suggested to me that Yokoo’s work would be an ideal direction for them. As we went further, I thought “Why not put the title in Japanese as well?” I called in a brilliant designer, John Van Hamersveld, to do the design. The album’s title dictated the party shot, the Satyricon fantasy concept for the back cover. My whole approach is forging a creative partnership with people, it’s very free-form. I made it clear that this is a stage for creative improvisation. KISS were doing a rock ‘n’ roll ballet for the shoot where each of the individuals were playing a part. It was incredibly exciting, they worked so well off of each other. They came in and they delivered.



Gene Simmons: That session was one of the few times that I’ve seen Paul drunk. He was blitzed. The only thing that was missing was Rod Serling going [imitates Serling’s voice] “Witness Paul Stanley entering the Twilight Zone.” There was a photo of him with a girl who had nothing on, sort of painted like Goldfinger with silver stuff. I don’t even think Paul was aware that there were forces of gravity. So he reached over and in one shot you sort of see him nuzzling with this chickie and the next second he’s over the bed. He’d fallen over. At the end of the photo session I had to carry him to the car and lock him in the back seat.



Ace Frehley: For one photo session we did for the Hotter Than Hell album, this doctor told me I could only put makeup on half of my face. So all the shots were profiles [laughs]. I got into a car accident. Something pissed me off. I got drunk one night and I kept driving around the Hollywood Hills. I kept going around the same block faster and faster [laughs] until I lost control and hit a telephone pole. I think I was just testing destiny. I got out of the car and I had cut my head. I walked back down to the hotel and I knocked on my road manager’s door and there’s blood running all down my face. He said, “Oh God, what happened to you?” I go, “I wrecked a car.” One of many [laughs], it was like the beginning of the saga.

More photos after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Vagina yarmulkes really exist
09:05 am



Etsy offers some truly fascinating options in the way of DIY religious paraphernalia; whether it’s chintzy Wiccan charms or chic, modern crucifixes, there are niche articles of worship for nearly every strain of spirituality. Then there is Etsy seller Zoe Jordan of Tel Aviv, Israel, whose store BeanSproutLadyJew offers handmade “Vagina Kippahs,” knitted yarmulkes of a graphically vulvar nature. Obviously, these little Semitic statement pieces are intended for the more liberal observer of Judaism.

These unique and meticulously handmade kippahs (kippot / ki-pot) are the perfect gift for the ladies in your life. Ideal for Bat Mitzvahs, Lesbian Weddings, Lady Rabbis, Feminists of the chosen variety, Midwives, Doulas and Renewalists. Also great for any-gendered and any-affiliated folks who appreciate a cheeky traditional-non-traditional way to acknowledge and REMEMBER WHERE YOU CAME FROM. It’s kind of like a high-five and a wink at your creator.

These kippot (למה? כי פות) are inspired by the fact that typically kippahs sit on the crown of the head, in the exact spot that (typically) the baby’s head first enters the world in birth. They are not intended to be irreverent but rather to embrace the wholeness and transcendent power of life.

Ok, ok, but what if you don’t see a vulva that resembles your own? Don’t worry, she takes custom orders!

Examples shown are from the birth set (of increasing dilation) but non-birth oriented kippahs are in the works as well. Kippahs can be custom-ordered and modified with regard to colour palette, anatomy, grooming particularities, size, and if you think of other variations, feel free to discuss with me.

Now I am all for more terrifying vaginal art, but doesn’t the more . . . dilated of the options defeat the purpose of the kippah, which is intended to cover the head in reverence to the creator? And far be it from me to question gynocentric interpretations of religious garb, but I just prefer my fashion—whether religious or secular—without an anus. But you go, Zoe Jordan; you have created a truly . . . unique product!




Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Subtle, intense photographs depict powerful feelings of anxiety
12:27 pm



“It’s Hardly Noticeable,” the title of San Antonio-based photographer John William Keedy’s remarkable photographic series on anxiety, is decidedly ironic. It was a phrase he committed to his diary at a moment when he thought he was succeeding in hiding his illness to the outside world. As he says, “I was so convinced I was doing such a great job of concealing my anxiety, when really I wasn’t.” As Keely also noted: “So it’s ironic, a little tongue-in-cheek. The images themselves are so theatrical, and over the top and not by any means subtle. But it’s like, ‘Don’t worry, it’s hardly noticeable.’”

Keely was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder eight years ago—his photographs are an attempt to deal with the issue in an artistic way. The pictures are carefully composed to seem ostensibly “normal” but to unsettle the viewer in a very subtle way.

“The idea of mental illness for those that haven’t experienced it firsthand is that it’s something purely psychological. But for me, a lot of it was physical,” says the photographer. “You know, the doorbells work, and the lights are on inside. But in order to use them, you have to go though this really physical pain.”


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Miniature recreations of Philadelphia’s vanishing urban artifacts
08:41 am



A miniature replica of The Forum
A miniature replica of The Forum XXX Theater in Philadelphia (RIP)
Long-time Philadelphia resident and artist Drew Leshko, has created incredibly detailed miniature versions of some of his city’s decaying architecture.
Miniature version of the Revival Temple in Philadelphia
Revival Temple
Inspired by subjects found in his own neighborhood, Leshko’s goal was to enlighten people to the ever-encroaching gentrification of his city by preserving structures and objects in miniature form that have been a part of his community for many decades. Especially structures that will soon be replaced by shinier, newer buildings or businesses. Using a layering technique, Leshko carves his three-dimensional relics out of paper and wood and creates 1:12 scale replicas of fading local attractions like the “Set- it-Up-Go-Go-Bar” (which is still open), XXX movie theater “The Forum” (RIP), or everyday objects like dumpsters decorated with bumper stickers, signs, long gone businesses or other reminders of the past.
Close up of miniature/phone and stickers (finger for scale)
Wherever you might be reading this, it’s likely that in the very recent past you have said goodbye to yet another part of your own town’s cultural heritage. And there seems to be no stopping this disturbing, profit-driven trend. Thanks to an artist like Leshko, a piece of that heritage will live on and be remembered by those who grew up with them, and will hopefully serve as a reminder to future residents of cities like Philadelphia that preserving our past has as much to do with ensuring our future as anything else.
Miniature of The World Famous Set it Off Go-Go Bar
Miniature of The World Famous Set-it-Off-Go-Go-Bar in Philadelphia
United Check Cashing miniature replica
United Check Cashing
More miniature Philly after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Shitty tattoo portraits of your favorite musicians
10:46 am



Kurt Cobain
I know fully well beauty is in the eye of the beholder. HOWEVER, some of these tattoos of rock stars and musicians are absolutely jaw-dropping, in my opinion. To put it kindly, I feel they lack a certain… well… something. Something is what they lack, but I’ll leave the appropriate adjective up to you.

I have a sneaking suspicion a few of these were either lost bets or drunken mishaps. I don’t know what could possibly be to blame for wanting a geriatric Mick Jagger etched into your flesh for the rest of your life. Still the blame for some (most?) of them would have to rest squarely on the shoulders of the artist responsible. Like the guy who said “Sure I can do Dave Grohl. I’ve done hundreds of Dave Grohls” to the hapless fool who walked into his shop that day (see below). And the Jimi tat. Ooph. Tragic.

Now some of you readers may really dig a few of these tattoos and think I’m dead wrong. So it goes with art. It’s all subjective.

Marc Bolan


Joe Strummer

Iggy Pop

Kate Bush

Jimi Hendrix
More tattoos after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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