Posts tagged ‘art’

February 28, 2015

Women’s History Month

women

These are some of the women who have influenced me most—be it my career path, my self image, my spirituality or my aesthetics.

Left to right, top row:Exene Cervenka, Erykah Badu, Patti Smith, Rickie Byars Beckwith, Erica Jong

Left to right, bottom row: Jess the Militant Baker, Dorothy Kilgallen, Annie Leibovitz, Norma Shearer.

November 8, 2014

The List No. 3

It occurs to me that it’s high time I make a new list. I started the lists to share interesting cultural developments(usually) in Ventura County, stuff that currently impresses or moves me in some way. Here’s some stuff that has my attention at the moment.

 

make

1. MAKE Ventura

Once referred to as hacker spaces, maker spaces are community-centered, membership-driven industrial environments for nerdy creatives and other people who like to get their hands dirty and their minds expanded. Members of MAKE Ventura are afforded rare access to a variety of industrial tools and machinery related to woodworking, jewelry making, mold making and metalsmithing, including a 3-D printer, laser cutter and vinyl cutter in a cooperative setting. Sharing of tools, methods, ideas etc. is central to the ethos of these collaborative spaces that draw inspiration from the open source movement. MAKE Ventura is open to the public on First Fridays. Visit it online to learn more, or drop by.

hud

 

 

 

 

2. The HUD

A newish art gallery with resident artists and an in-house graphic design studio, the HUD is a cavernous showplace for up and coming regional artists. New artists are showcased every month during a First Friday reception but the venue is slowly incorporating other events such as a juried exhibition on Nov. 15. I especially like the street-inspired contemporary works I’ve seen and purchased there, but the curating is truly eclectic. Run, don’t walk.

butterflys

 

 

 

 

3. Sanctuary of Butterflies

There are 28 days left to raise $64,000 in crowdfunding for this massive film project spearheaded by photographer Cole Smothers and musician/artist Luis Perez. Smothers, who is directing the musical documentary “Sanctuary of Butterflies,” will shadow Perez as he travels way off the beaten path in Mexico’s back country to explore, document and ultimately preserve indigenous art forms that are on the path to extinction. Though the proliferation of crowdfunding campaigns has made many of us weary, this one is truly worth a few of our hard-earned dollars.

michele serros

 

 

 

 

 

4. Michele Serros

Oxnard native and literary wunderkind Michele Serros has been a little under the weather lately. Actually, she’s been quite heroically beating the hell out of cancer, with the undying support of her beloved husband and loyal fans. Despite her cultural influence, the author of the critically acclaimed Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death Identity and Oxnard as well as How to be a Chicana Role Model, is by no means rich and the cost of medicine, allopathic and alternative, is almost unfathomable for an extraordinary female from a city most famous for Nardcore the sugar beet and her. It’s not easy to ask people to pitch in on your healthcare, but she’s done so with her characteristic grace and humor. So maybe buy a book, throw a few dollars in the hat and help a sister out. A Latina en Lucha Needs You Mucha!

5. Linda Ronstadt

Early in my journalism career, I regretfully referred to her as part of the Holy Trinity of Trite (which included the Eagles and Jackson Brown). I made a friend out of that faux pas and I learned a lesson about shooting my pen off. Fifteen years later, I caught  the Eagles documentary on Netflix and found myself mesmerized by Ronstadt’s charm and talent. Sadly, she’s suffering from Parkinson’s and no longer able to sing, but wow hers is a voice for the ages.

October 25, 2014

John Coltrane, Bono and the return of the record

670px-paolo_steffan_portrait_of_john_coltrane_-_2007

There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently about record sales, or the lack thereof. While overall, sales of music are down, the humble record, the physical manifestation of untold hours of toil and trouble is making a comeback. Of course, for some of us, records never went away. In the same week that we learned the number of records to reach platinum status in 2014 is ZERO (for the first time ever), we also learned that when there is no option but a physical copy to purchase, and especially when the artist is a legend–even if the release is posthumous–well, records sell. Lots. And when you give something away, as we just saw with U2, you devalue yourself, your talent and your industry.

Footnote: In yet another example of the age of the amateur and the decline of quality in pretty much everything, the MTV story I linked here has glaring grammatical errors. But who needs professional writers and editors, right?

September 16, 2014

Eyes Wide (open)

I’ve heard the theory that Stanley Kubrick was hired by the U.S. government to fake the Apollo moon landings, but I never knew that during his youth, Kubrick was a crack photographer. (If you were born later than 1970, you probably don’t understand the previous sentence. That’s OK. You have Google.) Turns out the great director of such seminal films as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, was a staff photographer for LOOK magazine in the 1940s. You can buy the book, buy me the book, and/or peruse some of them here. I’m particularly fond of this one:

10365_66cm_ 008

December 27, 2012

…………………..2012: A List………………

(Hope you don’t get seasick) p.s. it’s all local

massenger

Cassettes were all the rage this year. Massenger was my favorite band.

Recorded Music
Massenger
No//Se
The Pullmen
Kapeesh
D on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers

Wussy

Wussy

Live Music
Wussy at Zoey’s
Pangea at Indie West Fest
The Pullmen at Bombay
Kapeesh at Red Cove
Alexandra and the Starlight Band at Zoey’s
Miguel Garcia & the Vaquetones at Yolie’s
OFWGKTA at the Ventura Theater (for the sheer spectacle of it)

bob-and-the-monster-promo

Outstanding film! Bob Forrest actually remembered me from the old days.

Film
Bob and the Monster at Indie West Fest

scavenger

Shenanigans at the Scavenger Hunt. (Appropriately, I stole this photo.)

Event
The Local Rock Picnic
86 Scavenger Hunt (I was a secret weapon. Plus, I sacrificed my son’s innocence. See pic.)
Westside ArtWalk

comics comics

Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics

Comedy
Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics

tully

I purchased one of these pieces from Sean Tully. Can you guess which one?

Art
Sean Tully at The WAV
Stacie Logue’s guerrilla bluebirds
Paul Lindhard’s gateway to Ventura
Evan Ames’ and Lauren Mosinka’s yard sale
Everything at Sylvia White Gallery
Michael Pearce at Carnegie Art Museum
Art of Autism at Westside ArtWalk
MB Hanrahan’s Scabenue Calendar

KSSR_logo_p

Story
End Transmission: The Life and Death of the People’s Radio

January 6, 2012

12 Habits the art world needs to ditch

Street art by Morley. Move along, nothing to obsess about here.

Great article in Huffington Post  by longtime L.A. art critic and Coagula art journal publisher Mat Gleason about the art world’s somewhat antiquated habits. Among other things he says, which I tend to agree with, are:

“Art is sensual. Academics are not.”

“Art is subjective. There inherently cannot be experts.”

Art should not be consigned. (As professional musicians should not generally play for free, says I.)

Street or graffiti art should be admired for its merit, not who painted it. (People tend to get obsessed with the “who” rather than the “what”.)

He also comes down pretty hard on what he calls the art advice industry (I wonder what Sylvia White would say).

Have a read and chime in!

September 22, 2011

Room for everyone

My sort of mantra for the last few years, mostly privately, has been, “There’s room for everyone.” I say this to myself when I’m being unnecessarily critical or dismissive of someone’s artistic ability, and I say it aloud when I sense a discussion is leaning in favor of exclusivity or elitism.

Case in point: Not long ago there was some discussion about who should live at the WAV and who should not. More than one artist suggested that only “important” artists, people with a recognized body of work who are constantly producing should be able to live within this experimental, affordable housing complex for creatives which the city partially financed.

I couldn’t help but recoil. Who defines importance? As far as I can remember, during the rigorous meetings that preceded ground breaking for the WAV, it was determined that the subjectivity of such things would make it nearly impossible to create criteria for application approval, therefore attitude trumped “talent”  when it came to deciding who would make the cut and who would not. A desire to live to some extent communally, to ride out the challenges of such a social live/work arrangement would be more important than an individual’s perceived talent.  In other words, regardless of your medium, your experience or your potential for bringing national attention to our fair city, you will be considered for this affordable housing project if your life’s work is arts-centered.  Whether your focus is installation, music, textiles, poetry, plein aire  or toothpick sculpture–there is room for you.  And not only at the WAV, but in this world.

Last night I was watching one of those hideous talent programs on television, and an old couple got on stage and sang a standard love song from the crooning era (the title escapes me), and despite their lack of technical ability it was beautiful.  It made me smile to know these two traveled who knows how far, and endured who knows how many evil eyes from Hollywood types, just to get on that stage and sing in public because they love singing. This made me feel as good as seeing Coldplay perform or listening to Marcia de la O read a poem or a piece of art I recently saw at Sylvia White Gallery.

There’s room for everyone–to express, to create, to discover.

I may find as much beauty in a fall leaf wafting past me or the graffiti in my alley as I do in a Kandinsky. I value my old Black Flag fliers drawn by Raymond Pettibon the same as the painting that hangs over my bed.  Anyone courageous enough to step on a stage, face a blank canvas, page or wall,  and then place the result on display, is praiseworthy and not any less relevant than those who perform in stadiums or whose work hangs in prestigious galleries.

Let’s remember in our fervor to champion localism or a certain aspect of the music scene or innovative projects like the WAV—there’s room for everyone!

December 9, 2010

Future of ArtWalk: workshop yields as many questions as answers

“We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.”–Willy Wonka

Last night representatives from various sectors of Ventura’s visual art community gathered at the WAV to discuss the future of ArtWalk vis a vis the city’s shrinking financial and administrative contribution to the event.

Since its humble, organic emergence in Ventura more than a decade ago, ArtWalk has seen consistent growth as one of the city’s best-attended cultural events. But in the past year or so, a sour economy, changes in city leadership (and vision) and frankly, a stale model, have all contributed to the event’s current state of peril.

Last evening’s gathering was intentionally not held at City Hall for obvious reasons, or as Public and Visual Art Supervisor, Denise Sindelar noted, because it’s not conducive to “creativity and brainstorming.”  The discussion was led by PLACE president Chris Velasco, the brain behind the WAV project and a crack workshop/discussion coordinator, with various city leaders heading up smaller discussion groups. Though it played out a bit like a speed dating session, the cut-to-the-chase format did generate a lot of ideas, perhaps too many, which in the end left everyone sort of scratching their heads.

And… it revealed some subtle dynamics, perhaps even a division (at least in thought and purpose) between the OG, veteran Ventura artist contigent and the new school, WAV hipsters, perhaps not dissimilar to what’s surfacing within the boundaries of the WAV community itself, just more than one year since the first tenant moved in.

Giving the event an identity was the biggest conundrum of the night, inspired impassioned soliloquies and fevered cross talk punctuated the need for these kinds of dialogues.  As observed through this reporter/participant’s lens (so feel free to chime in and correct me), the new kids on the block, naturally coming from an entirely different cultural orientation by generational default, seemed to have a “more is more” perspective, envisioning the ArtWalk (or, insert flagship cultural event tag here) as a large scale festival/party  with lots of entertainment from all reaches of the arts, vendor booths, live music on every block, wine tasting, double decker buses, clowns and jugglers and a giant inflatable Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali, a la the Macy’s parade, floating over the city as local poets read city council minutes in ironic tones. (Kidding of course, but it could make for an interesting performance art piece). There was even mention of  a Pageant of the Masters type feature and the rave-style, Burning Man esque GLOW event in Santa Monica was briefly tossed into the fray. Sigh.

The city leadership types seemed keen on the idea of an ArtWeek  event perhaps showcasing different districts over two weekends, including the Harbor Village, midtown, downtown and the Westside with transportation offered and an educational element threaded throughout.

The old guard, and the group that I found myself in agreement with, held firm to the event’s original intent: a showcase for local visual artists with the prime function of valuing, discussing and PURCHASING art and celebrating the people who create it.  A natural biproduct of such an event is patronage of local restaurants and retailers, but it’s not the driving force. Most people agreed that the event needed to be fun, but to paraphrase renowned artist John White: viewing art and learning about art and owning art is friggin’ fun.

Ventura has had a tendency to copy good ideas from other cities. It may be the sincerest form of flattery but it’s not the best way to cultivate an identity. Let’s hope, as this discussion moves forward, and those who share a passion for art duke it out over the details, that we can birth something beautiful and fruitful. Maybe rather than trying to be everything to everyone, covering all the bases with this one event (pant, pant) and crouching to the level of the lowest common denominator, we can be the example, the tastemakers, the trendsetters, and create an event, that is entirely unique to Ventura, drawing from the deep pool of talent we are blessed with here. Let’s show ’em what we’re made of; the rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, we are stronger in identity, more unified as a community and brighter in spirit, anyway.

July 8, 2010

Goodwill, bad idea: isn’t it ironic?

The new Goodwill store opens in downtown Ventura on July 9.  (Yay! . . . Not.)  Located on the corner of Oak and Main where Nicholby’s was and should still be, I’d hope the irony of a “grand opening” of a thrift store in downtown Ventura is not lost on anyone who has followed the redevelopment of this district over the past decade.

I could be wrong, but if memory serves, there was a fairly focused vision for downtown Ventura that did not include thrift stores, or at least a preponderance of them. Yet, here we are, more than ten years into what has been a very successful effort to evolve downtown Ventura from a tumbleweed town to a cultural district, and the mother of all thrift stores is set to open. And not off the beaten path but in an extremely visible and desirable location in the heart of downtown.

To add insult to injury and ratchet up the irony factor, the retailer has partnered with the Artists Union to decorate its windows with art.  Not only is this a case of using art purely for the purposes of decoration (unless, it’s an intentional act of irony on the part of AU. A form of protest, unwittingly embraced by its subject), it’s a transparent attempt by the owners of the store (bless their hearts) to fit into the “new art city.”

I have nothing against thrift stores or Goodwill, but I do have a problem with our inability as a community, an extremely locals-loyal community, to help a struggling business stay afloat, especially when that business is such a key part of the culture of the area.

I don’t know the details surrounding Nicholby’s Antiques closure, but like most businesses struggling downtown,  it was likely a combination of dwindling sales and skyrocketing rent. The greed of property owners in this town will eventually bite them in the ass when people just stop trying to open businesses here and downtown Ventura is once again a ghost town.

There must be a way to encourage property owners to give struggling longtime businesses a break, and there must be a way for us to help the businesses stay open. Trueblood’s was forced to close yet the space then remained either empty or leased by junky thrift stores (Trueblood’s had huge amounts of character.) What was the point of that? Let’s not forget Bonnie’s, either. Rubicon Theater and Zoey’s are businesses critical to the culture and quality of downtown Ventura that are currently struggling… if we don’t help them, everyone hurts.

If we are to stay true to the identity we’ve been nurturing for so many years, we must take the actions that support our vision. We should be embarrassed that we traded Nicholby’s for a mega thrift store in the center of the cultural district. No amount of fine art in the windows will disguise the fact that, as a community, we screwed up.

June 24, 2010

Crimes and misconceptions: covering arts and entertainment in VC

In the past week a few prickly issues have become lodged in my gmail, so I figured I would address them here, if for no other reason than to stop the itching.

1. Coverage, or how one gets a piece of VCR’s valuable real estate:

It’s rumored that in order to get ink in our publication, one must be an advertiser. This is, of course, false and anyone who actually reads on a regular basis would know it. Why people insist on perpetuating this nonsense is beyond me, and the irony is, our advertisers are frequently miffed about not getting editorial love. So if advertisers aren’t getting it, and no one else is getting it, then who the heck is getting it? Answer: people, places, occurrences, creations that are interesting,  fresh, relevant and in some way impacting the county’s cultural  evolution. It never hurts to drop us a line if you’ve caught wind of such, as we are not omnipresent or telepathic (contrary to popular opinion.)

2. Locals only policy:

We are the only publication in Ventura County (or anywhere for that matter) that gives exclusive priority to locals. I cannot emphasize enough how rare this is. From what I can tell, no one else in the U.S. does this, especially for music. We will not (as long as I’m arts editor) ever review a CD by an artist living outside Ventura County. The only time you will read about someone or something not produced within the geographical boundaries of this county,  is if they are exhibiting or touring here. Sorry Santa Barbara, sorry SLO, sorry L.A.–someone needs to champion the talent here and if that’s a crime, then I stand accused! (insert appropriate emoticon) That said, if you feel we’re overlooking anything or anyone, drop us a line.

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