quirky plays on words, killer hand-lettering,
and a raw, cave-painting depiction of mankind
This past Sunday was a bittersweet coming together as our neighborhood celebrated ten years of Zebulon with one final night of music and friends. As I looked around the room at the early crowd – kids scampering about on the stage up front and their parents hanging back by the bar – I got to thinking: what would all of us have done without this place? Over the past decade it has served as a community hub for many of us: we watched World Cups and elections here: screaming and celebrating, we met our soul mates here (I met mine) and celebrated weddings (including my own), bid farewell to friends, welcomed new ones, chimed in new lives (including little Henri’s)…
Of all the great things Zebulon gave us, one of my favorites were Guillaume’s daily posters, done in chalk on the vertical board by the outer door, visualizing the music that was to come that night. These daily sketches used quirky plays on words, killer hand-lettering, and a raw, cave-painting depiction of mankind. Fortunately, the images were carefully photographed and collected for us to admire on their Facebook page. I’ve compiled some of my favorites from the past years here. All the best to Guillaume & Jef’s next adventures: thank you for welcoming so many of us into your world.
I stumbled upon Brooklyn artist Sam Trioli while scouting the interwebs last week and subsequently fell in love with his entire body of work. These vibrant pieces from his Sagebrush Gulch exhibit definitely struck a chord: perhaps in part for the nostalgic tangent that it led me on as I pulled out my Color-Aid paper and had a little impromptu art-school cut and paste sesh. Sagebrush Gulch was on display in Miami last spring as part of site95’s exhibition series and includes a few dozen paperworks as well as a large-scale outdoor mural and sculpture. Be sure to check out Sam’s portfolio here, and, if you’re in the Boston area you can view his latest series, Brumaire, at Howard Yezerski Gallery up until December 22nd. Definitely an artist to watch!
“Receptacle or Art Toy, every character exudes its optimistic narrative strength, full of magic and imagination.” Jaime Hayon
Jaime Hayon is on the fast track to completely winning over my heart. First there was his Green Chicken, with its childish, nonsensical spirit, and now, in collaboration with French glassworks legend, Baccarat, Hayon has created these spectacular crystal and porcelain vessels for a collection simply titled: Baccarat Zoo. Their tongue-in-cheek opulence is right on the money (a hefty wad of money).
I’ve got my heart set on the bears above: which is going to put Henri’s college fund back a few notches, but I’m sure he won’t mind as he wistfully stares at the cubs: perched faaaaar out of curious baby’s reach. If you’re more of a duck or monkey person then you’re in luck: the collection includes a few of those critters as well. Sorry. No giraffes.
You’re in town for the summer games: might as well leave your mark! Every street artist knows that London is a classic canvas and a long-time hub of the graf world. And what better way to get your tag on than with Krink’s K-60 paint marker in gold? These are the classic markers from the famed Brooklyn ink company (those mailboxes doused in dripping paint? Yeah, that’s Krink). Each squeezable bottle of K-60 has a broad, round tip and goes on super opaque to ensure that your John Hancock is scrawled to last.
I rarely pine for a work of art. I must sheepishly confess that you’re more likely to find me daydreaming of a big leather bag than a painting. Not to say that I don’t ♥ art: Matisse, Brancusi, Ernst, Morris Louis, and so on… I just… I don’t need to own them the way I need to own a Reed Krakoff Boxer bag. You know.
But Alma Allen? I’ve been jonesing for this Joshua Tree-based artist’s delicate little sculptures: thinking about which I would own if I could, the precious spot on my desk where it would live, how would it feel in the palm of my hand, how I probably wouldn’t be able to stop at just one…
The stone, bronze, and wood works by Allen have the sumptuous, lusty curves of a Maillol but also a precious quality, evoking the nostalgia of long-forgotten curios. And yet, they’re not relics of the past. They are a modern celebration of the earth: a blast of nature’s colors and resources. Marble, alabaster, malachite, serpentine: we sometimes forget that this is what Earth is really made of.
I’ve always been a lover of quilts – watching my mother create exquisite ones as a child, starting my own collection once I moved to New York City and discovered the East Village Flea and the wonders of eBay, standing awestruck before each Gee’s Bend quilt during the Guggenheim exhibition a few years back… The diversity of the genre – from the pure white and meticulous piqûre de Marseilles to the bright, appliqué styles of Hawaii – the history of quilts is rich with local tales and oozes the patient expertise of endless cultures’ womenfolk.
Needless to say, I get weak in the knees when coming across a quilter with a new style or story to tell. Jimmy Mcbride aka Stellarquilts is definitely a fresh voice at the quilting bee – using galactic imagery as his textile inspirations. My favorite from his current Etsy collection is, bar none, the Phobos V2 quilt (above) – a quilted replica of one of Mar’s moons. The quilts range from a modest $1,000 to $12,000+ so start pinching pennies for your very own piece of art to cuddle up in.
How does an artist move forward without forsaking his past? Take something he’s already made and give it new meaning? Over the course of one year, filmmaker Jim Helton documented New York-based artist Chris Rubino as he explored these paradigms and new direction in his work.
The final 12-part short film, “Love Kills Demons,” is a sweeping tribute to art, romance and inspiration. We’ve played it a dozen times! Peering behind the artist’s studio doors, we watch Rubino’s screenprinting, painting and drawing come to life. We see his old posters snipped and screened anew. We wander with him through Lo’s Williamsburg ‘hood, spying unexpected beauty and scribbling little love notes.
First-rate cinematography and deft editing take Rubino’s colorful work to lush new levels. Add to that the otherworldly sounds of Big Blood’s accompaniment… and this short film series is a downright feast for the senses! Watch “Love Kills Demons” in its entirety here.
Although Karolin Schnoor’s roots are in Berlin and her home base is London, we can’t help but notice (and love) the very Slavic vibe behind her illustrations, paintings, and sketches. Each stippled, crosshatched, and patterned image is chock-full of magical creatures and characters. Reminiscent of Russian embroidery, they have a folkloric depth that constantly teases the imagination with memories of childhood fairtytales. The artist has done commercial work for a litany of clients including some great publications (Worn Journal,Huck,AMMO,Unser) and her paper goods are available in a smattering of online and brick & mortar shops around the globe (Stitches & Daughters,Frank Works,Etsy,Poketo).
While the Americans are still cranking out duct-tape wallets, the Slovenians have gone above and beyond. (Tape wallets? That’s sooo ’90s Janeane Garofolo at a Pavement show.) En lieu of spray-paint, the ten-person ORTO collective relies on neon-toned industrial tape — the material best known for fixing disasters — taping over the city’s dull streets with scream-worthy graphics. It’s both a snarky inside joke on the disastrous state of our cities (uh, they need some repair) and an inversion of masking tape’s previous use in street art — to nail down stencils and mark outlines. It’s also damn fun — and that’s probably why this new form of street art has been popping up everywhere.
Tape Art pays homage in equal measure to stripey-high-art-painters like Jules de Ballincourt and grungy, old-school tape street artists like Mark Jenkins (Who I got to hang out with back in 2006). But they’re not just doing this to show off. “Our sticky art is eco,” they write in their cheeky manifesto. “It is not only easy to apply, but easy to remove. Simple and fun!” Well, the results are anything but simple. Forget lame outline drawings. They can make geometric patterns as intricate as those on the walls of mosques; they can mimic the sweeping curves of spraypaint graffiti with the hard lines of tape.
In this time-lapse video, see two of the collective’s artists, Fejzo & Luka Ursic, show how its done. When they’re not rolling and unrolling themselves in the sticky stuff, they’re taking over a Maribor pedestrian tunnel (just beneath Titova Street), covering three blank panels with their weird visions. (And playing over the accordion-toting street musician with “Crazy Yes” — a track from Turin’s DID.) Watch them make in tape a giant man baby, a mean dog, and a tiny city. But this isn’t just cartoonish: they take up exacto blades and rulers to achieve the subtle curves of a mountainous Japanese landscape, complete with bending waterfall. It’s gorgeous, subtle, sparse. About as far from a tape wallet as you could get.
Sebastiaan Bremer’s Schoener Goetterfunken series top: "Atop Faith's Lofty Summit" (Auf des Glaubens Sonnenberge) bottom left: "A Friend, Proven in Death" (Einen Freund, Geprueft im Tod) bottom right: "In the Universal Time Machine" (In deer Grossen Weltenuhr)
These new works by Sebastiaan Bremer are a tinted and tender reflection of the artist’s personal history, full of the vague layered euphorium that tends to surround family holidays of years gone by. Bremer’s personal photographic archives have long been the source material of his mixed media work but this latest, polka-dotted series has a clearer optimism and sense of celebration than earlier collections (like this one and this one).
Sebastiaan Bremer’s Schoener Goetterfunken series top: "To Virtue's Steep Hill" (Zu der Tugend Steilem Huegel) bottom left: "Joyful, as His Suns are Flying" (Froh, Wie Seine Sonnen Fliegen) bottom right: "Run, Brothers, Run Your Race" (Laufet, Brueder, Eure Bahn)
top: A.W. Bruna & Zoon’s Zwarte Beertjes paperback series bottom from left: Georges Simenon’s Maigret en de Maniak van Montmartre, Maigret en de Lange Lijs, and De Klasgenoot van Maigret
Dutch author and illustrator Dick Bruna is probably best known as the creator of Miffy — Nijntje in Dutch — the cute but inscrutable rabbit dressed like a toddler and pictured, in bold lines and primary colors, at the zoo, in the snow, at the seaside, etc. In the 50s and 60s, however, working for his family’s publishing house (A. W. Bruna & Zoon) Bruna also designed posters and covers for over two thousand different books. His covers for classic detective stories and thrillers by Leslie Charteris, Havank and Georges Simenon in particular highlight the virtues of his design approach. Stark contrasts, flat color and the slightly unexpected shapes of decoupage combine not just to ornament the books but to convey a durable, iconic impression of their contents.
from left: Havank’s Het Geheim van de 7de Sleutel, Het Probleem van de Twee Hulzen, and In Memoriam de Schaduw
While they each conserve a hint of Bruna’s characteristically taciturn whimsy, the covers can establish as well a feeling of suspense, a gloomy tension and an often gritty, distinctly European atmosphere. Every good autumnal thriller should have such a cover. Our favorite: the layered, not quite tesselating shapes & reflections of boats on the cover of “Maigret and the Headless Corpse”. We love the way the stillness of the water and the balance of the composition are disrupted by that grisly, understated title.
top from left: Georges Simenon’s Zondag, Zwarte Beertjes Literair Akkoord, and Georges Simenon’s Maigret en het Lijk Zonder Hoofd bottom from left: Leslie Charteris’ De Saint in het Harnas, De Saint op de Loer, and Vendetta voor de Saint
One of our hands-down favorite crews bombing the walls of Tel Aviv is the Haifa-based Broken Fingaz Crew. The 10-year-strong foursome (Tant,Unga,Dezo, and Kip) have a hypnotizing and intricate style which recalls 1960’s psychedelic posters, old school American comics, and B-rated horror flick poster typography. They’ve spent a big chunk of this summer leaving their mark on the walls of Beijing and Guangzhou, having been in China for the MIDI Festival, and are now back in Israel, set to collaborate with Zion Skateboards on some sure-to-be-stellar decks!
Well, it’s old news that we’re killing the planet and along with it, many of these adorable fuzzy creatures! Need some crappy stats to scare you into action? The Nonlife Zoo’s mission statement is chock full of them. How about this doozy: “more than one kind of species vanishes from earth daily”. Or this one: “human activities have resulted in the extinction of 736 kinds of biological species as of 1600”. A mere-mortal response would be to throw our hands in the air and assume that these planet-crumbling issues are bigger than us, but the key to the conundrum is in the baby steps. By acting on a local level, instigating conversation amongst friends, and, when gifting or when scratching that consumer itch, supporting projects like The Nonlife Zoo (who donate percentages of their sales to the WWF’s conservation efforts), these baby steps add up to a planet leaps and bounds more likely to survive. Read more about designers Owen & Cloud’s activism-through-design here!
The Nonlife Zoo card and Keychains (with eco grocery bags!)
The generation of Cracked Magazine readers and skateboarder rats has found its mark in the comic world. Traipsing across a macabre scene of sand fleas, shadows, and black widows — this is the world which cartoonist Travis Millard imparts upon the viewer. His comics are indicative of an innate need for humor to more easily swallow the grotesqueness of the human psyche and social landscape. Whether peering into a mirror and seeing a semblance of our true selves or the environmental hazards of living in the city, Millard uses his depth of perception to display life for what it can be (and all the apathy and paranoia that breeds the urban basket case). Being time-relevant material, you can find his work on skateboards, VANS, and in the form of the many zines uploaded at his website.
Millard’s sense of humor can be found in his real-life attempt at becoming Limp Bizkit’s new guitarist:
“So I put on some eye liner, and interviewed kids in the freezing ass parking lot of a Guitar Center in Arvada, Colorado for like 8 hours while I waited to audition. Then when my time finally came to try out, I just destroyed the amplifier and the guitar and knocked over some coffee and only took 20 seconds of my 60 second audition time. I kind of got pushed by one of the guys on the way out of the little audition room and triumphantly announced my victorious selection as the new guitar player for Limp Bizkit to the room full of awaiting applicants who were all very pissed at me. The article came out with a photo of my hotmail address on my application and I got hounded by some violent hate mail and excitable band sluts trying to make a connection.” — via Fecal Face
Texas Hairdid Zine was a collaboration between Travis Millard & Mel Kadel