Monday, October 14, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Recap

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online. Here are a few more very special pieces from the show that I wanted to share with you. 

Edwin Ushiro "Invitation From A Distant Whisper"

Curiot "Ambystoma Mexicanum"

Diana Beltran Herrera "Hummingbird"

Jolene Lai "Nectar"

Mary Iverson "Sunk"

Mu Pan "An Opossum and Small Opossums"

Ben Strawn "Fermata"

Regan Rosburg "Juste Milieu"

Aron Wiesenfeld "The Settlers"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Sharks

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Shark Toof "Seven Shark Show"

There are over 440 species of Sharks in the world’s oceans, many of which are considered the keystone species of their ecosystem, meaning that their removal from the environment causes the entire food chain to collapse. When hunting, sharks are discriminatory predators, culling the oldest and weakest members of their prey species, which ensures healthier fish populations. Many sharks also scavenge the sea floor to dispose of carcasses that could spread disease. Currently, dozens of shark species are listed as vulnerable or endangered, including the Whale Shark, Basking Shark, Great White Shark, Great Hammerhead and the docile bottom-dwelling Zebra Shark.

Sharks mature late and reproduce slowly. Many species take up to 20 years to reach maturity, and once they are adults, some species take almost two years to bear just a few live pups. Their already low birth rate has been adversely impacted by habitat degradation in their shallow coastal breeding grounds. Bottom-dwelling sharks like the zebra shark are often killed as bycatch of bottom trawl fishing, and open-ocean sharks like mako and basking sharks are frequently caught in long-lines, trawls and gillnets intended for tuna. In many fisheries, tuna boats now catch more sharks than tuna.

About 75 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, which are prized for traditional Chinese medicine and in shark fin soup, considered a status symbol in China and Japan. Shark meat is much less valuable than the fins, which can sell for up to $600 a pound, so fishing vessels have no incentive to preserve their meat. Once a shark’s fins have been cut away, the shark is dumped back into the ocean while still alive, and unable to swim, it dies a torturous death by slow suffocation or blood loss. Due to this rapacious demand for shark fins, many sharks never live long enough to reproduce, so their populations have collapsed catastrophically over the past few decades.

Wild at Heart II: Whales and Dolphins

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Ekundayo "Migrations"

Of the 13 great Whale species, 7 are are endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are succumbing to new and ever-increasing dangers. Collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear threaten the North Atlantic Right Whale with extinction, while the critically endangered Western North Pacific Gray Whale is at serious risk because of intensive oil and gas development in its feeding grounds. There are fears that the widespread use of sonar is causing whales to panic, either beaching themselves or surfacing too rapidly, which leads to potentially fatal decompression sickness. Alarm is also growing over other hazards, including toxic contamination, the effects of climate change and habitat degradation.

Born Free advocates against keeping marine mammals such as dolphins and orcas in marine parks, where they are doomed to a life of confinement and are forced to perform degrading tricks that run counter to their natural instincts. Last year, Born Free completed the rehabilitation of two dolphins rescued from a filthy swimming pool in Turkey. For 20 months, they were cared for and taught to hunt live fish on their own, then returned to the wilds of the Aegean Sea from which they had been taken as babies. To prevent cruelty of this kind from continuing, Born Free is calling for an international ban on the capture of wild dolphins. In the United States, Born Free protests against the dolphin exhibit at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, where more than a dozen dolphins have died in since its opening in 1990.

Wild at Heart II: The Giant Carrion Beetle

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

João Ruas "Necrophagous"

The American Burying Beetle, also known as the Giant Carrion Beetle, is a thumb-sized black beetle with dramatic orange-red markings. In the spring, the male searches out the carcass of a small animal such as a rat, chipmunk or dove and then tries to attract a mate. Once it has secured the attentions of a female, the two beetles work together to carry the body to a suitable place and bury the carcass several inches below ground, then lay 10-25 eggs in a subterranean chamber nearby. The mated pair stays with the eggs until the larvae hatch several days later, and then both parents tend and feed their young from the stored carrion, a behavior that is unusual amongst beetles.

The burying beetle was once common and widespread in the United States east of the Rockies, but is now rarely found outside of Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Scientists speculate that disruptions in the food chain due to the loss of large predators have led to an increase of scavenger species, and consequently the scarcity of small bird and mammal carcasses has limited the burying beetle’s ability to reproduce. The burying beetle is now critically endangered and faces imminent extinction unless captive breeding and reintroduction programs succeed in pulling it back from the brink.

Wild at Heart II: Honeybees

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Esao Andrews "White Bee"

There are 7 species of honeybees in the world, which represent only a small fraction of the over 20,000 known species of bees. They are believed to have evolved in South Asia, where humans have collected wild honey for at least 15,000 years. Honeybees have been domesticated by humans for at least 4,500 years, according to inscriptions in the tombs and temples of ancient Egypt. Prior to European settlement in the early 1600s, there were no true honeybees in the Americas, although a native stingless bee was cultivated for honey by the Maya and many native bees such as Orchard Mason Bees are highly efficient pollinators. It took over 200 years for honeybees to reach the west coast. They were carried over the Rocky Mountains and shipped around Cape Horn by settlers, who needed them to pollinate crops and to produce wax and honey.

Like their relatives, the bumblebees, honeybees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young. Unlike bumblebees, they store honey as a source of food to produce body heat during the winter. It takes the efforts of more than 22,000 bees to make a single jar of honey. In cold weather, honeybees cluster into a ball inside their hive and rotate from the center to the edges so no bee gets too cold. The temperature at the center of the cluster never drops below 80°F, no matter how cold the weather outside. Honeybees are threatened by colony collapse disorder, a mysterious syndrome which has destroyed unprecedented numbers of overwintering hives in recent years. Theories on its causation range the overuse of pesticides to the overharvesting of honey, which is often replaced with high-fructose corn syrup.

However, competition from and diseases spread by commercial honeybees also pose a deadly threat to native bee populations. Dozens of bee species have quietly disappeared over the past 30 years, including the Shrill Carder Bee, Cockerell’s Bumblebee and the Rusty-patched Bumblebee, all of which are on the brink of extinction. Many advocate the local cultivation of native bees such as the Orchard Mason Bee to pollinate crops in order minimize the transportation of commercial hives around the country.

Wild at Heart II: The Malayan Tapir

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Sean Chao "Gentle Swimmers"

 The Malayan Tapir is the largest member of the tapir species, and the only one native to the Eastern Hemisphere. Though tapirs resemble pigs, they are more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. Their distinctive black-and-white coloring acts as camouflage, breaking up the shape of their body so that predators don’t recognize them as animals in the dappled light of the forest. Baby tapirs have striped and spotted coats that provide even more misdirection to predators. Shy, solitary creatures, tapirs live in dense undergrowth near water, and are excellent swimmers. Like the rhinoceros, they can dive and walk along the bottom of the riverbed, where they graze on aquatic plants. They use their short prehensile trunks to feel for tender shoots and strip young leaves from branches.

Although the Malayan tapir once ranged throughout the tropical lowland forests of Southeast Asia, they can now only be found in small numbers in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. Their numbers have declined rapidly in recent years due to deforestation and the damming of rivers for hydroelectric power. In many areas, they are also hunted for food and sport, as well as for their thick skin, which is used to make high-quality leather for bridles and whips.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Endangered Species Benefit

I'm excited to report that Wild at Heart II, the latest installment of the Born Free benefit shows co-curated by myself and Andrew Hosner, will open this Saturday at Beyond Eden, which takes place in the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park. It will feature new work inspired by the world's endangered species from Erratic Phenomena favorites like Aaron Horkey, Aron Wiesenfeld, Andrew Hem, Allison Sommers, Edwin Ushiro, João Ruas, Kelly Vivanco, Tessar Lo, Mu Pan, Sean Chao, Esao Andrews, Mary Iverson and many more. Check out some sneak peeks below from Esao Andrews, Timothy Karpinski and João Ruas, and come out next weekend to see much, much more!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Andrew Hem's Richmond Mural

Last week, Andrew Hem returned from painting a wall for the Richmond Mural Project,  the latest edition of the annual urban beautification invasion curated by DC street art gallery Art Whino.

Employing a loose, painterly style reminiscent of his fine art work, Andrew gifted the neighborhood with a mural that combines pathos and humor in a return to his beloved theme of a world where everyone is accepted, no matter how outlandish they may appear. If you're in the area, go check it out at 14 South 15th Street in Richmond.  

Here are a few detail and progress pics courtesy of Andrew and Aaron "Angry Woebots" Martin

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dabs Myla's "San Francisco Is for Lovers"

Lucky San Francisco! You are playing host this week to dynamic duo Dabs Myla, whose installation "San Francisco Is for Lovers" opens this Saturday, August 17th at White Walls. Get ready for all-you-can-eat sausages, donuts and innuendo!

Rob Sato's "Interinhabitants"

If you happen to be in Copenhagen this Friday, August 16th, make sure to stop by Rob Sato's show "Interinhabitants," which will be opening at Mohs Exhibit.

As always, his watercolor handling commingles an intoxicating and seemingly contradictory amalgam of happy accidents and extraordinary precision. This time around, he appears to be exploring a sort of futuro-primitivist organo-mechanical archaeology with Old World overtones, reminiscent of fantastic artifacts from a bygone world displayed in a museum or discovered on a cave wall many millennia after their creation.

Edwin Ushiro's Black Drawings

Don't miss Edwin Ushiro's haunting black drawings this Saturday, August 17th at Giant Robot's "Stories" group exhibition. He will be showing alongside a coterie of good friends, including Tessar Lo, Sean Chao and Jeni Yang.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Introducing Mark Ryden's "The Gay '90s"

I must once again direct all of my faithful readers to the fantastic blog Ektopia, which just posted a really embarrassingly complimentary review of my introduction for Mark Ryden's recent book The Gay '90s. Jay writes about something interesting almost every day, so you should make Ektopia a regular visit.

Since I was mortified to discover, upon close perusal of the introduction in question, that Rizzoli must have assigned one of its less promising interns as copyeditor, I thought I would post the entire original essay here for anyone who'd prefer to read it in its original state, before the excision of overly subtle phraseology and the insertion of puerile grammatical errors. Enjoy!


"Mark Ryden and the Transfiguration of Kitsch"
by Amanda Erlanson

We humans are time travelers. While our bodies move forward in time at a constant rate, our minds are unfettered, and can move back and forth through time at will. In our idle moments, we cannot resist the bittersweet allure of nostalgia, and love to daydream over souvenirs of times gone by — cherished trinkets that allow us to reanimate an experience long past or evoke alternate versions of reality. As Marcel Proust famously mused, “When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered… the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls… bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory.” Through communion with those objects that resonate for each of us individually, we are able to conjure a delicious sense of longing for some wondrous time when there was still magic in the world, when nature abounded with mysterious things that seemed invested with a kind of spiritual aura.

Doubtless primitive men also wondered upon their sacred amulets and fetishes, much as pilgrims in the Middle Ages journeyed far to gaze on mysterious relics associated with a miracle or infused with the holy effluence of a saint. During the Renaissance, collecting a multifarious display of eclectic objects and natural anomalies was de rigueur for any well-heeled aesthete. Their “cabinets of curiosities” or wunderkammeren were the precursors of the natural history museums we visit today in order to gaze upon the wonders of creation. As the rapid changes of the Industrial Revolution swept aside the natural world, an existential emptiness sprang up in the hearts of men. Having lost touch with the mysteries of the natural world and the predictable rhythms of tradition, they sought to fill that vacuum with a utopian fantasy of the pastoral idylls of yore. With the simultaneous advent of mass reproduction, the glorification of memory was soon popularized and commodified, leading to the frenzied production of nostalgic mementoes calculated to pluck the heartstrings of every segment of society. As those objects traveled through time and their original purpose became obsolete, their essence shifted to symbolize something subtly different for each succeeding generation.

The arbiters of the “highbrow” art world disdain nostalgia and its physical manifestation, “kitsch,” as the pathetic refuge of the uncultured masses, and uphold appreciation of the abstract and conceptual as the distinction of the refined mind. Yet the universal archetypes that connect us all are not nourished within the haughty academies of artistic formalism. They grow within each of us, fed by the dark underground river of our thoughts, feelings and dreams. When we come across a stuffed bunny, a tin robot, or a storybook that sets off a haunting resonance within us, something deep in our psyche has recognized a conduit between the waking world and the fertile landscape of the unconscious.

Despite its tawdry reputation, kitsch is a perennial focus of contemporary art, but artists like John Currin, Lisa Yuskavage and Paul McCarthy approach their subject from the supercilious viewpoint of camp, laughing at its “bad taste” while simultaneously reveling in it. Whereas an artist like Jeff Koons takes an ironic distance from kitsch, transforming a valueless object like a gaudy porcelain figure of Michael Jackson into something valuable — a work of art — by mockingly exaggerating its cheapness, Mark Ryden cherishes his ostensibly vulgar subjects, elevating them to the status of sacred talismans through the time-honored craftsmanship passed down to him from master painters like Ingres, David and Bouguereau. In doing so, he bestows on them new layers of meaning and ambiguity, reawakening them as symbols that can evolve and inspire.

For Mark Ryden, nostalgia is more than a panacea, a gentle salve that soothes the raw edges of modern existence — it is the very lifeblood of art. When he sits down to paint, he is surrounded by a jumble of wonderful old toys, books and peculiar artifacts that whisper to him in their myriad voices, sparking distant memories and forging strange connections. But even a lover of nostalgic artifacts has his limits. Recently, Ryden has been pushing himself to embrace an arena of kitsch so egregious that it makes him feel strangely uncomfortable, and challenges his own aesthetic boundaries — the era quaintly known as “The Gay ‘90s.” He explained, “I would look at modernist attitudes that detest the taboo subject matter of nostalgia, imagination, and beauty, and think about how incredibly closed-minded this attitude is. But I came to realize I have my own thresholds. I gravitated towards the Gay ‘90s because it is the extreme of ‘distasteful kitsch.’ I wanted to play with it. Why not try to pull the lowest of the low into the highest of the high? It is interesting how those exclusionary modernist attitudes are as ‘olde tyme’ now as the 1890s were when modernist thinking was born.”

Today, the 1890s have passed from living memory, and all that remains is a saccharine fantasy. Ironically, the period never actually existed as we now conceive it — it is a frothy confection concocted in hindsight almost two decades later. Our collective imagination of that time is shaped by the kitsch left behind by a thirty-year wave of nostalgia that arose in the early twentieth century. Gay ‘90s mania came to a head with the rise of a new consumer culture in the Roaring ‘20s, an era bracketed by two depressions and two world wars. Conservatives reacted to the turbulent times by pouring out waves of nostalgia about the golden age of their youth. For them, the 1890s were the equivalent of the 1950s for us today — an era of prosperity and idyllic small-town life, the last moments of a simpler time before the advent of automobiles and recorded music. Looking backward, they recalled the “good old days” of straw hats and striped suits, marching bands and barbershop quartets, Gibson Girls and bicycles built for two. Yet in the real 1890s, most Americans either worked on farms or in urban factories, and this small-town utopia existed only in summer enclaves where well-to-do people from the city went to escape the soot and heat. This extraordinary nostalgia for the Gay ‘90s was one of our longest episodes of cultural self-hypnosis, and lasted well into the 1940s.

By the 1960s, when Ryden was a child, the lingering artifacts generated by this fad had begun to seem trite and old-fashioned. Even as a boy, he loved to spend his days drawing or painting alone at his desk, dreaming of Egyptian mythology and metaphysical numbers. But while his creativity was being nourished by the countercultural album art, psychedelic posters and underground comics his older siblings shared with him, he was also being exposed to sentimental pablum like The Lawrence Welk Show and schmaltzy trinkets that recalled “the good old days.” So a few years ago, Ryden started to use his own ambivalence about that sort of kitsch to explore the conflicting waves of attraction and repulsion we feel when we encounter imagery that feels clichéd and sanitized, as if a living symbol has been bowdlerized or neutered to satisfy some corrupt cultural agenda.

In this series of paintings, as he has done time and again, Ryden returns to his trusted cast of characters — his own pantheon of swap-meet spirit guides. The mythic figure of Abraham Lincoln is invested with an aura of divine power, despite being done up in clownish Gay ‘90s apparel. Jesus Christ, the impotent wizard, manifests as a shrunken figure playing a toy piano, then bears his eternal burdens astride a bicycle built for two. Languid girls who exude both a doll-like innocence and a knowing sensuality appear in nearly every painting, sometimes bearing fetuses tidily wrapped in their birth membranes, like hard candy in cellophane.

Considered within Ryden’s conceptual landscape, these porcelain waifs represent the anima, the Jungian archetype that mediates the feminine aspects of the unconscious in the male's emotional development. In his paintings, the anima manifests as Sophia — the muse, the fount of creativity, and the goddess of wisdom. Asked about his close identification with the feminine, Ryden said, “I believe that beyond the arena of art, the world would be a much better place if centered around a feminine perspective. The world has been really messed up by greedy white men who only work towards an agenda of personal wealth and power. It is this patriarchy of the past couple thousand years that causes so much strife. If the world was female-centered and if the dominant spirituality was based on the feminine and the earth, then human beings would know much more joy, peace, and harmony.”

In Ryden’s masterpiece Incarnation, which translates from the Latin as “in the flesh,” an ethereal beauty walks through a formal garden, as self-possessed as a Gibson Girl, tightly corseted in a bell-shaped gown of meat. The sumptuous hues and textures of meat have long fascinated Ryden, for as he has asserted, meat is what holds our spirits on the physical plane. Yet in the modern age, we have become so remote from the source of our food that we rarely think of the creatures that are killed for our consumption. Though Ryden is as carnivorous as the next man, he tries to be cognizant of the suffering inflicted by our meat-loving ways. In animist cultures, a hunter would pray to the spirit of the animal he had killed, thanking it for its sacrifice and asking for forgiveness. Perhaps Ryden’s reverent oil paintings of the flesh are also a sort of incantation, a mantra written in muscle, fat and blood.  

In the essay for his 2005 museum show Wondertoonel, Ryden wrote that “children can see a world ensouled, where bunnies weep and bees have secrets, where ‘inanimate’ objects are alive.” Those childhood feelings of mystical illumination and spiritual connection with the energies of the universe still hold incalculable power for us today, though so many of us choose lives remote from nature. A sense of harmony with the natural world is vital to most primitive religions, and still takes the forefront in modern Japan, where Shinto beliefs assert that every rock and tree may be inhabited by a god. “When you stand before a giant sequoia, it is easy to feel this power,” Ryden reflected. “But it is not just the rocks and trees of the natural world that are inhabited by gods. Dolls, toys, and statues are also inhabited by their own gods. A stuffed bunny, a chandelier, or a ginseng root possesses an intangible presence that is difficult to explain. It is a thing’s ‘essence’ that is its little god.”

Throughout his life as a painter, Ryden has listened to the voice of the wunderkammer which he has coalesced around himself, working surrounded by a thousand small spirits, each whispering of its own stories and dreams. “The paintings always come from an unknown place,” said Marion Peck, his wife and fellow painter. “He doesn’t really plan them, they more just come to him… When he is conceiving of a painting, he will be lying on the couch for many hours in a daze, surrounded by mountains of books, dolls, and scraps of paper from his massive collection of images that inspire him. Once he starts actually painting, though, he is in an amazingly wakeful, concentrated state of mind... He is totally paying attention to every tiny movement of his brush. Sometimes he says he feels like he is threading a needle all day long, poor thing. He is an amazing mixture of scientific precision and dreaminess, artist and businessman, young rebel and old man.”

One of Ryden’s most profound convictions is that we instinctively know that there is more to existence than the physical plane we can perceive with our five senses. He is fascinated by the idea that the world is an illusion like a diorama. This concept is subliminally present in all his paintings, in which mysterious scenarios play out in sharp relief against a misty landscape, as if set before a theatrical backdrop. On some level, this awareness of a greater context is at the root of the human impulse toward spirituality. Ryden believes that if we look backward, past the societal machinations of religion, we can sense a more fundamental source of meaning — the natural forces our ancestors interpreted as forest spirits and primordial gods, and wove into a rich tapestry of myth. That same reverent intimacy with the natural world is intrinsic to childhood, but as we enter adulthood, our connection with those elemental forces tends to fade away. While some of us remain aware of these natural conduits to the mysteries of the unconscious realms within us, those pathways are often occluded by the perpetual distractions of modern life. Yet the more we risk as a society — the delicate balance of nature, the freedom of childhood, the wonder of a world not fully understood — the more important it is for creative people to help us imagine what could be, and might have been.

Mythographer Joseph Campbell believed that the absence of religious ecstasy in modern life is what causes many of us to go off the rails and look into cults and drugs for the transcendent experience. One of the functions of mythology is to show us how to evolve into higher paths of thought and action, and ultimately to discover who we are and what course in life fulfills us. Though we live in an era where the idea of myth seems archaic, these universal stories are still springing up all around us in different guises — from urban myths to dream paintings, from science fiction movies to comic books. Many of the more visionary artists of today, whose minds are open to the sound of the universe, are continually conjuring new myths built upon the ephemera of our times — new traditions that respond to our environment, rather than that of some desert-dwelling nomadic tribe that disbanded thousands of years ago. Perhaps the most important function of the artist is to make mythology a living medium, enriching our perception of the world with new metaphors that reconnect us with the mysteries. In his finest work, Ryden transfigures the most clichéd artifacts of our culture into a modern mythology that rouses the wondering child within us and opens us to a greater empathy for all living things.

In our frenetic modern world, people often find themselves restless and lost, deprived of a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Our souls yearn for mystery and beauty, whether we seek their expression through nature, love, music or art. Imagination can act as a bridge toward all the things for which our hearts ache — the ineffable, the spiritual, the eternal. Consequently, the artist’s most exalted function is to hold open doors into the unknown to help us divine the elusive nature of who we really are, allowing those parts of us that are seeking transcendence to evolve. In this respect, the artist takes on a shamanic role, mediating between the physical and spiritual realms, fueling our passions and healing our weary souls. Asked if Mark Ryden feels this sense of mission, his wife Marion replied, “Though he definitely would not use the term ‘shaman’ about himself, I think Mark certainly has the sense that he wants to bring something into the world, something it is craving and yearning for — soul, beauty, hope, things like that. He has an amazing something, a magic which has this very pure and loving quality, a joy. Everyone who is around him can feel it. There is something there that touches everyone in a very mysterious and powerful way, and they fall in love.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rob Sato's "Raw Kingdom"

Sorry I've been so absent lately, things have been a little crazy. Just a heads-up for you all, make sure you don't miss Rob Sato and Kris Chau's "Raw Kingdom," which opens this Saturday, June 22nd at Copro Gallery. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mark Ryden and the Transfiguration of Kitsch

I'm thrilled to announce that the introduction to Mark Ryden's new book, a compilation of his recent work entitled The Gay '90s, was written by me.

Mark and I met after I interviewed him and Marion for Heroes & Villains. He enjoyed my in-depth and somewhat esoteric interview questions, so he asked me to continue working with him. Over the past couple of years, I have been crafting a series of interrelated essays about his recent work, and this book is the culmination of that endeavor. It has been a real honor to be part of this project.

An earlier version of my introductory essay is included in Mark's Taschen mongraph Pinxit, a comprehensive survey of his work which was just released in a stunning trade edition last week.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lined in Lead, Redux

Just a heads-up to everyone out there — make sure to check out the second edition of "Lined In Lead" at Nucleus Gallery, opening on April 13th. The exhibition, curated in the impeccable style of Ryan Graff, will feature Erratic Phenomena favorites like Andrew Hem, Edwin Ushiro and João Ruas.

João Ruas "Le Sacre du Printemps XI – Ancestors"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shout-out to Ektopia

The editor of one of my favorite blogs, Ektopia, recently reviewed the book I made with Andrew Hem last year, Dreams Towards Reality. He has some lovely insights, so head over there and check it out, and then spend some time exploring the thousands of cool things that can be found there.

"Dreams Towards Reality follows Hem’s artistic journey from 2006 to 2011 in a series of chapters, which include his fine art, his mural work, sketchbooks and some of his photography. A journey that really started after he returned home from the first visit to Cambodia at the age of 27. With his “heart aflame,” he began to paint with new motivation. The use of bold colours for skin tones but subdued line-work (unusual for an ex-writer, it seems) make some some incredibly emotive imagery. There’s a ubiquitous sense of chaos being tamed by a calming spiritualism and his stories are never quite what they initially seem."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wayne White's "Masterworks"

If you're in the neighborhood this Saturday, stop by Western Project to see Wayne White's "Masterworks," a survey of the past decade of Wayne's remarkable oeuvre. If you're a fan, you should also make sure to check out the recent award-winning documentary about his life and work, Beauty is Embarrassing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Edwin Ushiro at the Japanese American National Museum

This Saturday, February 9th marks the opening of "Supernatural," an exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum that showcases the work of Edwin Ushiro, Audrey Kawasaki and Timothy Teruo Watters. Edwin will be unveiling a series of spectacular new paintings, as well as selections from his recent work. See you there!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dabs Myla's "All Good Things"

This Friday, Feburary 1st marks Dabs Myla's triumphant return to their home turf for their debut solo at Melbourne's premier contemporary artspace, Metro Gallery. I will be traveling down under to hang out with the dynamic duo on their native soil. I hope to return with lots of pictures of amazing graffiti and exotic creatures, particularly my very favorite critter, the adorably obnoxious Tasmanian Devil!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Andrew Hem's Box of Dreams

Next weekend at the Photo LA art fair, Zero+ Publishing will release the final four versions of the Andrew Hem: Dreams Towards Reality deluxe box set edition. The previous five versions are already sold, so these beautiful pieces complete the set. Go to Zero+ Publishing for more details!