bad-brains

Check out this sick Bad Brains silk screen by Obey mastermind Shepard Fairey and old school photographer Glen E Friedman. Too bad I’ll probably never own it since it’s limited edition, like everything seems to be nowadays. Darn it. More info about its release on Fairey’s website: Obey Giant

Beautiful Losers

August 20, 2008

I’ve been unable to post for the last few days due a breakdown in our internet thanks to the yellow bellied scoundrels at Time Warner. That is until I realized that my work laptop detects connections from lands far, far away. So here I am stealing internet, transmitting via guerrilla blogfare.

I’m not quite sure where exactly I first stumbled upon Beautiful Losers, but as soon as I chanced on it, I was intrigued. The film—directed by Aaron Rose, founder of NYC’s now defunct Alleged Gallery—documents the rise of a D.I.Y. art movement in the early ’90s that revolved around the urban aesthetic of street art, graffiti, skateboarding and underground music. Anyone that reads this blog regularly (all four of you) know that this is right up my alley. And when I learned that the film focuses on artists that I respect and admire: Harmony Korine, Shepard Fairey, Barry McGee and others, I knew I had to see it. Lucky for me, the film began its general theatrical release right here at the IFC Center at W4 St.

I must say that leaving the theater I was not at all disappointed. First, it was interesting to hear first-person accounts from each artist explaining their initial engagement in the D.I.Y. scene. Most began with an early self-derived perception of outsider status, or being different from the other kids in the cafeteria. Of course these claims are validated through quirky, often hilarious anecdotes from each artist. In one particularly memorable scene, Harmony Korine tells a little girl that a friend of his was once decapitated in the very park in which she was playing, to which she responds, “Cool!” It’s actually hard to tell if he’s serious.

Beautiful Losers was also worthwhile as it exposed me to several artists with whom I wasn’t very familiar. I learned about the work of Mike Mills who has designed dope album covers for Sonic Youth, Beck and the Beastie Boys, Margaret Kilgallen, whose San Francisco-based folk art I recognized and Chris Johanson, who sports a massive beard and is just plain nuts.

I also appreciated the fact that the film didn’t raise any negative sentiment for artists applying their work for commercial purposes. So often today artists are accused of selling out and alienating their core audience, the audience that was there during the come up. If an artist has the opportunity to project his or her vision on a larger scale without compromising their creative integrity, he or she should be encouraged, not chastised. Specifically, the film touched on graphic designer Geoff McFetridge who has spearheaded cool ass campaigns for Pepsi and done collaborations with sneaker companies.

There were only a couple aspects that detracted from the film for me: In my opinion, the cutaway shots of the artwork were often too quick and sporadic. I understand that a film has to move, but there were times that I wanted a few more seconds to take it all in. I also thought the unfortunate death of Margaret Kilgallen was touched upon very abruptly and disrupted the flow of the film somewhat towards the end.

All in all however, Beautiful Losers is the type of film that lights a creative fire under your ass and makes you wonder why you ever stopped taking art lessons in seventh grade. It reminds you why you enjoyed drawing and making things…because it was stimulating and fucking fun. Excuse me while I go tag my bedroom wall.

Many of the art galleries in Chelsea can be intimidating. Some make you feel out of place if you’re not stroking your chin saying weird things like “delightful,” while others make it unclear whether an item is “art” or a piece of furniture. My favorite gallery, and one where the things on the wall are definitely art, is Jonathan LeVine on West 20th.

Curated by its namesake, the Jonathan LeVine gallery moved to NYC in 2005 from Philadelphia, where it had been known as Tin Man Alley Gallery. Carrying on its reputation in Philly for being an epicenter of underground and urban art, Jonathan LeVine showcases work by both new and established artists in the realms of graffiti, pop and street art. Thus far, I’ve seen “E Pluribus Venom,” an exhibition by Shepard Fairey (see photo), founder of the now-ubiquitous Obey entity, and “The Streets of Europe,” which highlighted work by Blek Le Rat, Blu, D*Face and others. Jonathan LeVine has also hosted exhibitions by the likes of David Choe, Jeff Soto, Doze Green and Dalek, all of which I regrettably missed out on.

If you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday, roll on over to Jonathan LeVine. The vibe is chill and the staff knowledgeable and friendly. Who knows, you might just catch the next Banksy…just don’t expect any wine and cheese…

Peep the website