We’re currently looking for artists of all mediums to feature in an upcoming Art Nouveau curated exhibition.
Art cannot exist without the artist; the artist cannot exist without the story; and the story cannot exist without the inevitable enigmas, emotions, and interpretations of the journey. Transferring these elements into his complex compilation of collage and sculpture art, Los Angeles based artist Carlos Ulloa tells his tale. His story is one of many characters and places, much breadth and countless shades, and a ringing resonance which defines his art a pure product of his path. From Philadelphia, Florida, New York, Germany, Spain, Los Angeles and a few geographical relocations in between, Ulloa’s body of work is representative of the cultures by which he has been surrounded. As he takes from each place what resonates and leaves behind what does not, art remains his primary constant and “sampling” stands his central craft.
I read an article of Deepak Chopra’s recently in which he states: “reality is a perceptual collage.” This notion, I find bold in Ulloa’s style. No matter the medium, be it sculpture, street art, or collage work (the latter to which he refers as a “two dimensional sculpture”), his creations are just that: perceptions of his own reality. While Germany’s gruff spawned a series of gun and war inspired pieces, Los Angeles’s oftentimes shallow nature (in terms of both substance and aesthetic) was the origin of Ulloa’s two dimensional infatuation and satirical humor within his work.
As reality-centric as they may be, Ulloa’s pieces become all the more enticing through their level of obscurity. There is no definite meaning; each piece is more so defined by essence than literally. The concept may shine through, but the interpretation itself is one for the eye of the beholder. Looking at a piece of Ulloa’s can be something like rereading a favorite book; once you think you’ve got it figured out, you return to it only to discover a new world within.
Having had work featured in galleries across the globe, Ulloa’s reality interpretation turned perceptual puzzlement has clearly worked to his advantaged. Perhaps it is the latter that keeps the audience coming back for more. A challenge for the eye, a stimulant for the imagination, a timeless quandary…Carlos Ulloa’s artistic anthology takes on a stimuli of its own.
Consequently, his coming collection is entitled “Calamitous Conundrums”. Saturday, November 3rd, through December 29th, Ulloa’s pieces will be showcased in Los Angeles’s Bermudez Projects gallery. The series consists of mixed media collages transferred onto wooden veneers, focusing on portraiture. Portrayed is the inner world of the portrayed person that is seldom shown to the outer world.
Quite the conundrum if I do say so myself. While Carlos Ulloa’s creative self is ever changing, I always find myself in awe exploring the multidimensional aspect buried within his pieces. Having the pleasure of getting to know the man behind the work, I can attest to the authenticity of the artist. Ulloa is one-of-a-kind, as is his virtuosity, and there is nothing dubious about that. I look forward to stopping by the Bermudez Projects and encourage those at access to do the same. Follow the journey of Carlos Ulloa as he tells his story, one piece and one conundrum at a time.
For more information on Carlos’s exhibition opening this Saturday, November 3rd, at the Bermudez Projects gallery, click here.
Adam Bravin and I met two months ago for the sake of this piece, but not until now has the final text shown its face. Never has it taken me so long to write about an artist, but something about Adam stuck with me. His essence was so pure in artistry, yet so complex and so enigmatic that I found it nearly impossible to articulate. After our meeting I found myself taunted by the act of even picking up a pen. Since (and mind you, it’s been weeks since), I have attempted the act, but usually ended up chopping, screwing, and reconstructing the piece until it sounded like complete verbal absurdity. So I took my time, letting the essence of Adam Bravin marinate until I discovered the complementary approach to his story. And ultimately, I found myself here, weary eyed and worn behind a glaring computer screen, typing up something that – in my delusion – I’d hope someone would revere a masterpiece.
Let us start from the top. You’re probably wondering (if you don’t know him, that is) what makes this guy oh-so-special. To make a poor and cliché understatement, here is my answer: Adam Bravin is a man of many hats. He is DJ Adam 12, he is one half of the group She Wants Revenge, he is a talented musician and producer, and the unsuspecting photographer. Most of all, he is the man who would never fathom boasting such an impressive repertoire; he simply creates to abide by his fervent nature. In many ways, Adam is an outlier; not only does his quantity come with a primal caliber of quality, but his relevance is incessant. So relevant, in fact, that I considered such a valid excuse for my two months of writer’s ease. Nonetheless, now I can cease the ease and introduce you all to the ever-gifted, humble-natured, exceptional human being and most of all “funky white boy,” Adam Bravin.
DJ Adam 12 is “as honest as he can possibly be as it pertains to any type of art whether it be on the turntables or on the bass or any instrument. I do the best I can as an artist and it’s my responsibility to pay inspiration forward because I’ve been inspired by so many people”
I’m driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, far beyond late for my meeting with Adam Bravin. I arrive in a post getting-lost fluster and drive into the parking lot of his gated studio. Adam sits in the driver’s seat of his Audi and says he’s doing “OK” after I ask him the assumed intro question. As he leads me into the studio, we share some friendly banter and the obvious apologies from myself, the directionally challenged Los Angeles newbie (every Los Angeleno knows one of me). From the piercing sun of the SoCal sky, we stroll into the dimly lit ambiance of Adam’s studio space where the seductive melody of Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” is streaming. Minutes go on as he and I speak on all things Odd Future, Frank Ocean, and Hip Hop in the year 2012. Carried away and lost somewhere within our conversation, I recall that business is at hand. Without further adieu, I press the a circular red recording button that now transitions my role from companion to inquirer, his to the responding artist, and friendly discourse to magazine material.
So here we are surrounded by recording equipment galore, electric guitars dangling from the walls and a plethora of wires wrapping around enormous desktops; one must wonder all that has occurred in such a place. The studio is not only his haven as DJ Adam 12, but also for he and She Wants Revenge partner Justin Warfield. As I inquire on the subject, I find out the two were freshly home from a European tour with The Cure, one that just so happens to potentially be their last.
As collaborative partners, the two accumulated three studio albums and two EPs over the course of their six year run. Although she Wants Revenge is the love child of Adam’s dark side and need to create powerful music, his retrospective outlook seems to say the time is right. “When you’re in front of a people that are there for something you’ve created out of thin air…and people respond to it…it’s great,” he says.
“I definitely have to become some kind of character on stage…It’s show business so you’re an entertainer at some point. I don’t wear a cape… Don’t get me wrong, if it were up to me I’d be wearing a cape,” he jokes. “When I’m DJing, I don’t pump my fist in the air,” he says, laughing. You see, Adam’s alternative to the “dark and dancy, oftentimes pinned ‘goth’ ” She Wants Revenge act is that of DJ Adam 12. It is this one that has remained his sole constant; “I’ve always been a DJ,” Adam says.
Unlike She Wants Revenge, DJing has been a vital component throughout his history. “When I was in fourth grade, I would tape songs off the radio and bring my tape recorder to school and I would play it for kids… I had a little ghetto blaster,” he recalls. When Adam reached age sixteen, that’s when the craft became a passion. “I DJed all the parties in the San Fernando family. I was playing all my favorite shit in some kind of order that made sense for me.” Adam satisfied this organic mentality as his DJ career evolved; from parties in the valley and underground Hip Hop scene to those of President Obama, his priority above all has stayed the same: “for someone to walk away with…something amazing.” Given the latter, something amazing has obviously proven the case.
After years circulating in the industry and DJing for high powered celebrities like Oprah, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, and Stevie Wonder, Adam seems to have a natural sense of how to appeal to any audience. I ask Adam if there has ever been a crowd he couldn’t play for.
“I can do any party… I’ve always stayed up on any genre of music,” he says; “I know how to look around a room and entertain them and I’m not afraid to take chances. When I get to their party, I’m going to do what I need to do.”
(On how he was chosen by Obama’s people) “I was in the room with a bunch of Hollywood celebrities and socialites and I found a way to incorporate ‘Shook Ones’.” From this point on, DJ Adam 12 has been a regular on the musician’s list of Obama’s parties, one of those being Obama’s birthday party (one of his five happening around the nation at that time) and another, his Rock The Vote event. Adam’s explanation for earning his position?: “Every time I got one of those jobs it was because I was being honest as an artist.”
And if your hearts aren’t already melting at this point, I can assure you he is a man of his word. “I don’t care about the different labels or genres, all I want is a room full of people who are there to have a good time. I don’t care what type of person they are”, Adam says in his soft spoken tone.
“Is DJing a life long commitment?” I ask.
“I keep saying I’ll stop, but I just can’t. I’ll never throw the towel in…. Underneath all of this, the moral of the story is, it’s important to hold on to the artistic side of being a DJ and remember the culture that it’s a part of…. Do it because you love it, do it because it’s something that turns you on or something that you like and have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously.”
And what better words to leave you with than these? As Adam’s presence truly made an impression on me that day, I hope his words have done the same for you. Having played producer with various artists like Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Esthero, traveled the world as DJ Adam 12 and half of She Wants Revenge, he still considers himself “just some guy from LA who’s in a “Goth” band.” All humor and nonchalance aside, let Adam teach you a thing or two. Take his words with you and appreciate the beauty in his modest manner. Although phases in his career may come and go, his artistry is eternal. I look forward to following Adam as he enters the next chapter; whether it be producer, DJ, or “just some guy,” it’s bound to be extraordinary.”
“Satiated by the Power of a Parabolic Throne”, 24″ x 30″ framed, carbon soot emissions, spray paint, and 16 karat gold on billboard posters
The genesis for Los Angeles based street artist HOMO RIOT came out of the anger the artist felt after Prop 8 passed. “I wanted to fuck shit up, I wanted to give the Mormons and the homophobes and the republicans exactly what they were afraid of.” he recalls. His motto was “Give us what we want or we fuck in the streets.” And that came out in his work, which admittedly always had a healthy dose of sexual imagery in it but taking that to the street seemed like something new.
“I like to imagine some uptight homophobe driving by the kissing homo duo or some other image of mine and squirming in his car seat. But my intention is not solely to rub some gay-hating asshole’s nose in it. I’m also motivated by the thought that my art is engendering a sense of pride in other queers. Prop 8 didn’t pass just because the Mormons and the homophobes showed up at the polls, it passed because a lot of gays stayed home and didn’t bother to vote. There was a lot of political apathy among “out” gays and an equal number of closeted gays who didn’t vote or voted the other way because of a combination of self-hatred, shame and fear. I would like to believe that my art communicates to them a call to action. “RIOT HOMOS” come together, get involved, exercise your power, get angry, be a participant. – Homo Riot
Photos by Shaun Roberts
Epilogue is a fully immersive art installation taking over the entirety of Hold Up Art Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. The Bay Area’s most prolific vandals, David Young, Eddie Colla, and Hugh Leeman present a vision of our world, after it’s inevitable collapse.
An existence stripped of mass media, conspicuous consumption and the trappings of a modern global society. A future reduced to the tasks of survival and memory. This ambitious installation will feature new works created from found objects and home made weapons. It is a three person show with Hugh Leeman, D Young V, Eddie Colla, the trio will be creating an immersive installation throughout the entire gallery that their artworks will be hung into.
“Epilogue” opens Saturday, September 8 at Hold Up Art Gallery located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles , 2 blocks South of The Geffen Contemporary MOCA. Click here for more information. And check out some images of the process below.
Electric Guest are an LA duo comprising Asa Taccone (providing creamy androgynous vocals) and Mathew Compton. Their debut album Mondo is produced by producer du jour Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and their airy incredibly catchy sound is reminiscent of MGMT or even Burton’s Broken Bells.
World renown painter Tobias Keene reemerges onto the art scene with his first solo exhibit in six years. The message is “beauty, sadness, [and the] inevitability of death and innocence lost.” As I converse with Tobias Keene, just before the opening of his new exhibit Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day, the Los Angeles based painter speaks of the story within his new show, currently on display at Los Angelesʼ LeBasse Projects.
Dig if you will, a Hip-Hop culture not glued together by patriarchy or bravado, but actually making good music and having fun. Maybe, the idea is too demanding, but Ab Soto is hell-bent on making sure that he’s there when the Berlin wall of homophobia and the glass-ceiling of urban music comes crumbling down. Of course, most musicians that are sexually diverse have their own sob stories, but this is what it sounds like when AB Soto cries. It’s surprisingly cheerful, and not-so surprisingly thoughtful.
As a bit of a Pop fiend, it was a pleasure to discuss New Blood with Morgan Spurlock; as a bit of a Pop theorist, it’s something of a marvel to ponder the nine-minute manifesto…
Why New Blood, why now?
“I don’t know if it was a question of now, or if I just felt like there was a need to show – I feel like there’s still this shifty new movement in the art space where the people who kind of launched this whole “low brow” art movement, this street art movement, are now inspiring this whole new generation of artists; y’know these new kinds of Pop graffiti artists who are kind of coming up in their wake, and I find that to be really fascinating. You gotta think it wasn’t that long ago when low brow art and street art was being relegated to the lowest, smallest of the fringe galleries, to now where these paintings are being put up in the cornerstones of the modern art movement. So I think to see where that ripple effect is continuing to affect, not only our generation, but the next generation of artists is really inspiring.”
Art Nouveau Magazine: Do you see characteristics of the “old blood” – not necessarily more conventional or traditional art, but even Warholian Pop Art – within the vein of this New Blood?
Mogan Spurlock: Definitely. Those artists, those people who kind of were at the cornerstone of that Street Art/Pop Art movement, these are people who came out of that Warhol school of thought; who are making and saying very bold statements about the current state of economy, and our society, our culture. I think there is a tremendous movement still, as art as citizen criticism where we can actually use access to make a statement beyond, you know it “just being art.” I think that’s what a lot of people do, and I think that’s fantastic.
ANM: Ron English put together your poster for the show. I think it definitely speaks to that aspect of art – which can’t be articulated through words necessarily – in showing the fused juxtapositions of commerce, religion, capitalism, patriotism, and the half-dollar at the foundation, with you at the center of it all. Do you have any thoughts on that or how it all came together?
MS: This is the piece that Ron actually put together for the show, and it came from a collaboration that he and I did on my last film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. In that film there was a conversation I had with the gentleman who created the Star Wars poster and the JAWS poster, and the JAWS trailer, and his whole thing is about how being offensive and to use the type of things that people most hold dear, that you use as creating conversation, are the things that get inked; and if you want to do that, there’s one thing that always gets inked – and that’s religion. And Ron is somebody who’s been using that to his benefit for years, and so when the poster I had suggested we use was “The Last Supper,” the first person I thought of for doing a poster for that was Ron. And I think the criticism that he draws and the way he puts the influence of popular movies on us – much like they are our apostles today – is pretty, I think, inspired.
ANM: I do see a very big omission from this, I kind of wish I saw Maggie Simpson somewhere at the table as a religious icon…
MS: (laughs) I know right – and I kind of feel like I should have been more Judas than Jesus at the table, but y’know…
ANM: So you’re from West Virginia, you went to Tisch School of the Arts, and the show is in Culver City [California] … Something that we talk about here at Art Nouveau is that “Stars are born in New York, and L.A. is where they go to die.” What do you think about the art scenes on the East Coast and West Coast, and coming from West Virginia as a bit of an outsider, how do you see the art scenes?
MS: (laughs) Well, it’s amazing because y’know if you’re an artist, or an actor, or a filmmaker, or a storyteller that’s where you end up going – to Los Angeles, to settle into your career; but if you are in the art world, what you want to do is to have your art suddenly accepted by the big galleries in New York City – you want to have someone in New York City, like The Gagosian, be carrying your art. You want to have – when Dietch had his big gallery in New York City – you wanted to have somebody like that give it their seal of approval, so you actually made that crossover into the big gallery world. You know, L.A. has really started to come into its own with the street art movement, but I still feel like the cultural capital of the art world lives and breathes in New York City.
ANM: What differences do you see between documentarian and curator; what limitations or freedoms does one have and not the other?
MS: For me, as a curator, it’s much easier when all I can do is come up with a theme and present it to artists and they get to run with it – it’s much different where I’m having so much control and influence. There may be another show in the future where it’s much more directed with what I want to have the artists create, but this was much more about the artists and their vision as opposed to what I want them to say.
ANM: So, elevator pitch for New Blood: in 15 or 30 seconds, you’re caught in an elevator – or between flights – and someone wants to know about New Blood, what would you tell them?
MS: I would say that in the art world everyone has helped someone along the way, and especially now, even myself, I find myself in a position where I try and give other people a break. I let everyone know: ‘This is a filmmaker you should know about. This is a writer you should know about. This is someone you need to be paying attention to, because they’re going to be after our jobs in a few years – that’s how good they are.’ So the same thing is in the art world, that there are plenty of people who have apprenticed under, whomever, for centuries, who – whether it be Rembrandt, whether it be Picasso – or whether it be these people who we’re having in the show, and what I want those artists to do is share those people that they believe are the next big thing with all the rest of us.
ANM: When was European interior design at its peak?
“New Blood,” curated by Morgan Spurlock, opens April 28 at Thinkspace Gallery. The show runs through May 19. Click here for more information.
Sunday night/ Circa 9:45 PM/ The Tabernacle Venue, Atlanta, GA:
I find my 5’3 self engulfed in a sea of wrestling limbs and damp adolescent bodies. By now, I’ve happily endured a few songs worth of mosh pit suffocation and am silently trying to devise an escape route from the pandemonium. The ripple of bobbing heads above mine makes the task difficult, but at last the sea parts and there he stands: the blonde, freckle faced Lucas. The photograph of his face, plastered on the monstrous flag that dangles from the ceiling, awkwardly stares into the beautiful calamity of the audience as they simultaneously chant…
In the heyday of rap and hip-hop, when what artists said, sang and did actually meant something, actually fueled real fire, a local from Los Angeles was tagging street corners in wiry stencil lettering. Almost two decades later, he’s a loud voice in the world of street art. You may not know his face (few people do; it’s a heavily protected secret), but you might know his work—you’ll certainly get his message.
Let’s BEY honest, Gay men invented #SWAG. We are deep in fashion, art, literature, publishing and every other industry, but mainstream Hip-Hop. The question is always asked, is the world ready for an openly gay rapper? I’d say yes. It doesn’t matter if they’re fighting gender roles by donning six inch stilettos or Jerseys and Timbaland boots, as long as the music is exceptional anything can happen. That’s where artists like AB Soto come into play.
Indigo Charlie is by far Los Angeles’s realest female “indie alternative artist.” Taking the DIY approach, Charlie models the hustle mentality when it comes to making a name for yourself in the industry and being both a student at FIDM and current employee with Giorgio Armani, she ain’t too shy when it comes to style or drive either.
Good music whispered echoes a hundred miles. Take for instance singer/songwriter Graham Knoxx. I’ve seen Graham out and about at a couple of events in Atlanta. Making her way through a sea of hipsters and posers she greets me with a smile as sweet and earnest as her voice. Her natural style, poise and statuesque beauty gave her a glow that was hard not to notice, even without the brief introduction from promoter Wil May.
Most of us are familiar with the Jay-Z & Kanye West “Throne” takeover, which in itself practically attained an all-inclusive zenith of hip-hop history. For Jay and ‘Ye purists like myself, there’s no question as to whether or not “N*ggas in Paris” was the main attraction of both the Watch the Throne album and tour. The entirety of the song – the concept, the hype, the in-your-face bombastic beat – epitomized the Throne in its grandiose of imperial hypnotism.