Beast Coast to Best Coast: Its art art everywhere…

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When I worked in DC, I used to walk out the front door of my office building and across the street to the National Portrait Gallery, to think.  I’d stroll and think. It was the perfect place to do so; with free admission you can simply pop in for 15 minutes and roam the halls, rubbing elbows with America’s earliest painters or modern photography exhibits, just long enough to get your mind working in a different direction again.

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Now when I walk out the front door of my office building, I quickly find myself at Michael Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s a block east of CNN’s LA bureau on Sunset and Cahuenga. A news ticker streams the headlines across the street to Amoeba Music, one of those old dinosaurs–a real live record store.  If you were wondering where to find the best pizza in all of Hollywood, let me just tell you, this place is like walking into and out of Brooklyn just crossing the threshold.  If you tweet Joe’s Pizza @joespizzait they will give you 15% off your order.  They’re on Hollywood Blvd. and Wilcox.dc3

Note to self: Don’t get derailed by the costume shops and bewildered tourists muddling over the pink and black, flecked terrazzo streets. Hollywood Blvd. can seem like a strange place, but the buttoned up hipster kids are really just programmers and the cats with the full sleeve tattoos are the graphic designers. Trailer Park, the entertainment marketing agency that puts out the slickest movie trailers for blockbuster films and designs campaigns for the latest video games, is just up the boulevard.

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Walk down Wilcox to Selma and you’ll see one of the most precious gems of all. The empty building directly on the corner gets buffed over almost every day because almost every night street artists put up new wheat pastes.  If you catch it at the right time, you can find some pretty epic work.

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Art that is born from a determined, rebellious spirit and put into action, long after the rest have resigned to the morning. Art that knows no boundaries, for better or worse, in the search for a voice.  The same way that a good and gritty ground game in a campaign can achieve an eloquent brilliance. Or epic disaster. But somehow still give everyone a good laugh.

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During the election, it was awesome.

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I started snapping them with my iphone whenever I was quickly passing by, then posting the photos to Instagram.  Different artists have found the posts and its connected me to new friends and collaborators. The pieces I’ve spotted have been so unique and special to me, for their content but also for their ephemeral timeliness, like pop culture hitting you on the head with a hammer. Then disappearing the next night. A real live street art twitter.

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That’s the fortunate thing about doing what I do, in the place I do it.  We consistently embark on new creative endeavors.  Surrounded by corporate news headquarters and small powerhouse production shops, 15 minutes to the local government of Downtown LA, and never too far from a coffee shop for those long and caffeine-fueled brainstorming sessions. We strike a chord between fine art and street art.  Guerrilla film-making and presidential advance.  Nestled in the craziest little neighborhood, but ready to travel anywhere, in the name of inspiration.

Blind love for SONG 1: Mixed media outdoor exhibition at the Hirshhorn museum

hirshhorn3For nearly two months the Hirshhorn museum, with its circular shape and unique design, has served as the canvas for an experiential artistic exhibition.  California born and based artist Doug Aitken has transformed the iconic building into a living, 360-degree film reel, projecting his original short film SONG 1 on the entirety of the building every night until May 20th.  The short is set to the tune of the hypnotic “I Only Have Eyes for You” which bellows on repeat from speakers surrounding the museum out onto the National Mall and through the busy streets.

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Beginning at sunset and concluding at midnight, the artist’s vision of “liquid architecture” blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.  He fashions a multimedia outdoor experience that makes the audience feel like they are both watching and a part of the exhibition.

hirshhorn2The song which provides the soundtrack for the exhibition, originally written in 1934 but best remembered for the 1959 recording by The Flamingos, opens with a proclamation of blind love. The kind of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching tunnel vision that leaves you dangerously enamored and unaware of everything else. The kind of love blindness that would get you run over by a car if you weren’t careful.
2012-04-05_21-22-16_286The characters in the film, who each seem alone in the midst of the same intensely personal journey, traverse the rounded exterior walls of the Hirshhorn in varying ways so that the film cannot be viewed entirely from one vantage point. The singers helplessly pose questions into the night, unsure about their own surroundings, unable to make the simplest conclusions about reality.  In the fog of passion.  Sitting in the sculpture garden, staring up into the projection–or walking around the building for a new perspective, the singers beg us to answer, “Are the stars out tonight?”  We can’t help but look up into the real darkened sky hovering above our heads. They are. And Venus is low. We go off into a tangent conversation about her as we gaze upward, still humming the song to ourselves.

2012-04-05_21-24-56_20In that song I’ve heard a million times but will never hear the same way again, a dizzily delirious lover laments that he’s unsure if he’s in a garden or a crowded avenue.  And as the characters in the film swirl in and out of different urban scenes, the audience too feels the confusion.  At times they are standing in parking lots upon which the actual trees around the Hirshhorn cast perfect shadows, seamlessly bending reality into art. At other times, blaring sirens screech down Independence Avenue disrupting the focus and yet, somehow mimicking the disorienting effects of this blind love by breaking down and building up the substance and content of the piece, itself.

hirshhorn1Like real blind love, the exhibition swirls around its viewer in vibrant colors and perfect harmonies, familiar images cloaked in compellingly provocative newness.  Even loneliness. Its unsteady and surreal.  Sounds from the city seamlessly harmonize with the sobering but sweet vocals.  Crowds may go by, but the art carries on. The images are evolving, twisting, turning, pulling at your heart in a landscape, cinematic spell.

The installation is entering its final week so be sure to swing by the Hisrhhorn so you don’t miss this amazing experience. With its music, imagery and incredibly powerful moments, its never the same thing twice.  A visual and emotional spectacle as delirious, exciting and confusing as love. A kind of blind love.

But who doesn’t appreciate a well-timed “shoo-bop-shoo-bop.”

That’s all for now cats and kittens.

–Aimee

Interview with internationally acclaimed artist Brett Amory

ImageHey there cats and kittens–check out my interview with the very talented and thoughtful artist Brett Amory this week on Warholian.

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Brett’s work takes you through the solemn sometimes lonely moments of city living and gives voice to the thing we all do every day: wait.

Waiting 101 explores this and more. Happy reading!

–Aimee

5×5: DC art scene comes alive this Cherry Blossom season

Last night was the launch of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ new temporary public art project called 5×5.  Anacostia is the home to one of 25 art installations being put up around the city in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which also began yesterday.

Still a work in progress but set to debut for the upcoming 5×5 festivities, the 4th floor of this otherwise empty Anacostia warehouse has been transformed into ramshackle romanticism by the Monica Canilao and her crew who have traveled the country gathering recycled materials and breathing new life into them to create the installation Home Mender.

The installation is a unique and compelling shanty town of reclaimed pieces of wood, bottles, fabrics and clocks melds together to create a surreal experience.

Pieces pulled from nearby abandoned building weave together an Alice in Wonderland meets cabin-in-the-woods simplicity, where each piece — from a broken clarinet hanging like a wind chime, to rusting metal buckets — tells a punk rock story.

This wild, wooden dream world is part of the larger project called Betwixt and Between, “referring to the artists breathing new life into the ordinary, reinvigorating the fabric of the urban environment” and is curated by SF based artist Justine Topfer.  Justine is working with 5 artists and art collectives from around the world to transform the SW and SE parts of the city with public art projects.

Want to check it out for yourself?  There are a several parties going down in this space from April 14th through the 21st.  In fact, it just so happens that this year’s Cherry Blast music and art party is happening here!

Be sure to follow updates at Art Around which compiles a pretty comprehensive list of the art projects around our fair District. And remember to buy your Cherry Blast tickets as soon as they go on sale, since this annual blossom usually sells out in advance.

See you there cats and kittens!

-Aimee

Andy has Landed: Warhol hits the Mall

Washington DC is preparing for the Warholian Rennaissance sweeping the National Mall. Two exhibitions opened Sunday at the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art, both along the National Mall.

The Hirshhorn, a circular building in its design, is the perfect host for Andy Warhol: Shadows. Andy’s 102 silk-screened, handed-painted piece collection of one single repetitive image. Its simply a shadow on the wall in his office. But its been transformed, tweaked, twisted, colored and screened 102 different ways. And it speaks volumes.The exhibit wraps around the circular structure like a film reel. A walk through Andy’s vision.  Its fantastic! And quite a unique glimpse of the artist’s work.The exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, however, is more familiar.  If the Hirshhorn’s exhibit, featuring work created in the last decade of Andy’s life, is high-brow, the exhibit at the National Gallery is good ol’ Warhol.  We see his affinity for pop-culture-trash-talking-tabloid-celebrity-gossip-goodness.  Its entitled Warhol: Headlines and encompasses the mainstreamy ad man art that made the Warhol legend. This exhibit is gossip-y and silly. Tabloidy and terrific. Sensational and satirical.It follows his obsession with news media. Particularly, it opens on his paintings done by projecting front page stories on the wall and diligently tracing over them.  Free-hand lettering, errors and all.  And then–you travel upstairs, taking the extraordinary journey of his progression into different techniques and evolved lettering. Truly epic newsstand masterpieces that stand the length of the room.I love seeing his soup can style, the pop art appeal, in something other than soup cans!My favorite part of the exhibit were the works featuring both Warhol’s headline designs, and Basquiat‘s hand-drawn profound simplicity.  My most beloved piece in the whole exhibit was this divine beauty:I pretty much just love it and could spend an evening and bottle of wine discussing it!  And, from now until next January you CAN get your Warhol fix on a whole assortment of lectures, concerts and screenings.  Check out the schedule here and see my hit list below: the not-to-miss-moments!So go check it out for yourself and we’ll see ya around!  Take a walk on the wild side.

That’s all for now hep-cats.

–Aimee

Make the Most of your Melons: Become a Fruit Carving Cutie!

Although we are in the middle of the first full week of September, don’t let the fall allergy commercials and the lame-stream media touting the end of summer ruin your sunshine buzz!  The autumnal equinox doesn’t hit until September 23rd and as far as I’m concerned, its more important now than ever to make the most of this final summer fling. So, in honor of the waning summer days, throw one last blow-out BBQ and learn from the best how to wow your guests!  Let’s find out from chef Louis how to carve a watermelon and create some edible art.First, start with a very thin, small blade.  Something like an x-acto knife works best.  Then, carefully cut off the green skin on one half of the watermelon.  Be sure to have a bowl nearby to catch the little scraps!Once you’ve cleaned off an entire half, trace a circle in the center and cut along an outer ring.From here, trace little lines, almost like creating rays coming out of a sun.  Next make a dot with your pencil a bit out and in the middle of each line, and connect into a triangle. Cut along the lines.Keep marking dots in the center of your new lines, and cut into triangle shapes.  Soon, beautiful flower petal shapes burst forth from your melon.Once you have your triangle shapes cut you can make them even more detailed by trimming the center of each. Then keep following the pattern by marking and cutting more triangles. Once you reach the end of the top half, give the bottom edge a bit of a clean up. Pretty soon, if you are patient and diligent like chef Louis, you will have a gloriously flowering watermelon! Trust me, when you bring it to parties people will fret about eating such a masterpiece.  Just tell them, its fruit, DIVE IN!Most importantly, have fun!

Stay cool cats and kitties,

–Aimee

Attack on Art: Crazy and Clueless in Washington, DC

One of the most amazing things about DC is our incredible access to some of the world’s most revered art.  On any given afternoon you can slip into the National Portrait Gallery or the National Gallery of Art and gaze upon the divine work of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir or Leonardo da Vinci.  All for free. Pop in for a 5 minute stroll or spend hours wandering the halls reading every caption to every piece.Unfortunately, though, the fantastic free for all policy has turned into a real free-for-all!  On August 5th, a 53 year old woman from Alexandria, Virginia was arrested for casually walking into Washington’s National Gallery of Art, allegedly yanking down Henri Matisse’s $2.5 million painting “The Plumed Hat” and repeatedly slamming into the wall.  Mon Dieu! C’est terrible! Read the official court report here.

The Plumed Hat, 1919 Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)

Although crazy-pants thankfully caused no damage to this incredible work of art (only the original, antique frame) its shocking to discover that this incident comes only four months after a similar attack.  During the first week of April the same woman was arrested for trying to pull Paul Gauguin’s painting “Two Haitian Women” from the wall, beating it with her fists and trying to remove the plastic cover.  This painting is valued at $80 million and while it also suffered no physical damage, the woman could be heard from the adjacent room screaming at the top of her lungs “This is evil!”

Two Haitian Women, 1899 Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)

According to the Washington Post, the perpetrator later told the court, “I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosex­ual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned.”Since art was first conceived there have been those who’ve sought to deface, devalue, discredit it.  I realize this is nothing new.  However, if history has taught ME anything, its that once people start burning books or art… well… you know what’s next.

Let’s embrace it not deface it, cats and kittens.  We should all be so lucky to explore our talents and gracefully share our worldview with any onlooker. Crazy or not…

–Aimee