Thursday, May 31, 2018

Gorillaz Take Over Venice!

In the brand new video for "Humility" from Gorillaz, cartoon buddies cruise the Boardwalk on rollerskates, while Jack Black gets down with his acoustic guitar (and even jazz musician George Benson is featured!).

This summery jam is just in time for beach days and warm breezes carrying tunes out of car windows and boom boxes. There is SO much fun coming up this Summer in Venice ... you can't blame some cartoons for wanting in on it too. Let this little ditty get you in that Venice beachy vibe ... and I'll see you out there, real people!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beyond The Streets To The Venice Pavilion - Welcome 2 Venice!

One of the best parties ever was held last Sunday at the Beyond The Streets art exhibit in downtown L.A. ... but it was exactly like Venice, only not in Venice. A recreation of the Venice Pavilion had been constructed using old photographs to get it as real as possible, and they did an awesome job. I showed someone photos the next day, and they were like "Whoa. It's exactly the same, but cleaner." Yep. It was like a time machine landed us right back in '90's Venice, complete with almost all of the same people too. It was one of the best Summer kick-off parties ever, hosted by our excellent friends at Juice Magazine.

Juice had a party the night before, so it really was a proper Dogtown Memorial Weekend - and one for the books. It was a hot, sunny day downtown, and folks were in the mood to let loose. There was free beer and food to help with that, and art and skating enough to satisfy even the most hardcore.

Old friends caught up all day, and new friends were made. There were some people I hadn't seen pretty much since the Pavilion was bulldozed over in 2000, and some that I'd seen just the night before, and everyone agreed that it was the most awesome thing every to all be back together in the Pit ... even if it was a fake one, it was as real a time as we've all had in a long while.

Josh "Bagel" Klassman had the best birthday party ever, as this jam fell on his day, and was also the release of a book of his photographs that Adidas Skateboarding put together (perhaps in a bit of penance for their earlier claim that they were "Defining Venice". No, THIS kind of day helps define Venice.), called It Wuz All A Beautiful Disaster. And it truly was.

This day wasn't, however. It was the best. A punk rocking set from The Shrine (a new favorite band now featuring Corey Parks from Nashville Pussy on bass!), and an even harder one from Excel set the tone and created a pit of skateboarding moshers. Super extra fun, and everyone just felt happy to be there (though like the old days, someone did have to be taken away in an ambulance - then the party went right back to raging after wishing him well). Metallica's Robert Trujillo was there mixing and mingling, and you name a skate hero and they were probably there.

Juice Dan was the M.C. for the day, and Juice Terri held down the Juice booth, and both accepted lots of love all day for the support and love they've given the skate community, Venice and international.

Skating was front and center, and you got wall rides from Christian Hosoi, Tuma Britton, Bennet Harada, and all the O.G. cats that gave Venice its name in skating. Everyone was tripping all day on how weird (and cool at the same time) to have picked up the Pavilion and transported it to a parking lot in downtown L.A. ... though an ocean breeze would have been most welcome. Maybe we can keep it and bring it back home? (Though I'm hearing a low buzz about unearthing the original again ... why not?)

Though the Pavilion pop-up was the place to be, there was also ridiculously sick art inside to be seen at the Beyond The Streets extravaganza back inside - and get yourself a little break from the relentless sun. Celebrating street art in all its forms - and beyond - the cavernous warehouse had room after room of mind-blowing art from legends of the genre, beautifully curated by graffiti historian, Roger Gastman.

The show opens with an entire wall of spray paint cans, illustrating the importance of this material in street art's history.

There was a "Cosmic Cavern" of all glow in the dark colors, that would have been fun to hang out in a bit while altered. Grooovy.

There was a room dedicated to the female street artists, repped largely by the Guerrilla Girls.

There were old school works by Basquiat, Keith Haring, Chaz Bojórquez, and Kilroy! ... all the way up to the latest stuff from the latest artists like ... you name it.

I loved an old man by Swoon (and I always swoon for Swoon) ...

Shepard Fairey work always has to be in this conversation, and his Andre The Giant pieces were well represented.

Slick showed up with his L.A. Hands, showing off Southern California in a nutshell.

Famed tattoo artist Mr. Cartoon created a funeral home installation insisting that "All Dawgs Go To Heaven". I sure hope so.

All souls need saving, some more than others ...

Another installation that was one of the heavier ones showed a bomb aimed at a wall of condoms, and when you looked inside of the bomb, it had a drive-in theater full of cars watching the world explode. It was as cool as it was gnarly.

The space was HUGE, and so were some of the pieces. The scale is not just beyond the streets, it's beyond impressive.

There had to be a C.R. Steckyk III wall, and there was. Topped off by a shark created from license plates.

"Trash Records" was an installation that exactly replicated the kind of record store we all know and love ... and miss.

Faile showed up with an enormous mausoleum that would not be out of place in an old European cemetery - or Vegas.

Much like the We Rise show that is located just a couple blocks away (and was just extended through June 10th - GO!), I've shown you a lot here, but I haven't barely scratched the surface with how much there is to see in this show (that goes through July, so get here also!). It's massive - and truly a spectacle to see.

There won't be an awesome Juice party when you go, and that is really what made this event SO special. Sure, it's the art and the skating and the memories and the cool, but what really makes something real is the people that know and love a place. Like the Pavilion. Like Venice itself.

It was an incredible day, with incredible people doing incredible things, and we were all lucky to be there - and we knew it. I think anyone that was there felt a real tug on their heartstrings, and a renewed internal vow to keep Venice real, to keep it special, to keep creating art and music and a new generation of skaters. Deeply heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in such an honestly epic day.

Love forever. Venice forever.

Friday, May 25, 2018

We Rise - An Art Show For Your Mental Health

Update: This awesome show has been extended to June 10th, 2018!! GO!!!

We Rise is the perfect name for the outstanding art experience happening now through Monday in Downtown L.A., because once you have seen it, you immediately feel elevated. Wow. Just WOW. If you do nothing else this holiday weekend in Los Angeles, you should most certainly hit this powerful show. It's not just art ... it's a movement.

Created and curated by the same folks that brought us the excellent Into Action show in January, We Rise is perhaps even better than that previous show that I've still been raving about. Into Action was all about politics and taking action, where We Rise is about taking care of ourselves and each other. Mental health is at the root of just about every problem our society faces, and it's time the issue is treated with as much importance - or more - as anything else taking the attention of our national consciousness.

Well over 100 artists are on display with their works that all connect around the mental health theme. Moving. Heavy. Mega Important. Beautiful. Sad. Inspiring. All of them. But it's not just about the art. There are panels and workshops every day, with speakers like Common and Yara Shahidi. There are calls to action, and codes to scan with your phone to get involved. I can't say enough good about the entire thing. As I stated before, it truly is a movement, couched in the best of the best art shows.

The art. I loved it all. I couldn't get there until almost 8:30, so I had to hustle and look at the art while a panel about incarceration was happening. The reason I got there so late is that I'm working on a show for Viceland called American Junkie, and as I walked through the exhibit, I could think only about how we would not be experiencing this opioid epidemic if we better care for our mental health. It all starts there.

I got chills and choked up at several of the works, and I was not alone. To address that, the We Rise folks have arranged for counselors to be there for you in case something really bothers you and you need to talk to someone professional. I love the attention and care that is paid to every aspect of the issues, and the tangible feeling that someone cares about you. Wants to help you. Wants you to feel better. Is there for you.

There were different topics represented throughout ... like gun violence and kids being murdered at school. Imagine how that threat now affects our nation's children every day at school, when they're simply trying to learn and become who they're going to be. Isn't that hard enough without worrying that you might die at your desk? Do Not Cross (School Series), 2016 by Natalia Anciso thinks so.

And how about Emma Gonzalez, 2018 by Gabe Gault? Powerful stuff, powerful girl.

The opioid crisis and the over-medication of children (and everyone, really) is a massive problem, and there were several pieces that made direct hits on this outrageous - and preventable - issue. Like Avalanche, 2018 by Billy Kheel, showing it like it is.

Social media and cyber-bullying are also areas of concern these days, and one of the most chilling works in this show was Cyberbully by Lesley Augston and Alexander Rocco depicting a phone with sharp knives protruding from it. Ouch.

The idea that everyone is perfect online was tweaked by Adam Mars with his Validating Beauty Is Getting Ugly, 2017.

A gumball machine (Judgements 25 Cents, 2013) by Jennifer Dalton offered judgements of "OK" and "Not OK" were offered for 25 cents, but the point was priceless.

Speaking to the tendency to put a sheen over real problems for a better online image, Guillermo Bert lets us know that There Is No Filter For Toxic Culture, 2018. Amen.

Mental illness itself is often a taboo subject for the people that suffer from it. No one seems to really want to talk about it, yet all you have to do is walk down nearly any street in L.A. to see that it's an enormous crisis that is going unaddressed. It is THE root of our homeless nightmare, and something must be done. This show is a wonderful start to shedding light on the topic, and issuing a call to action. Catch Me When I Fall, 2013 by Holly Ballard Martz was made up of "Fall Risk" wristbands, and just hurt my heart.

Sutured Jane, 2014 by Dani Dodge was equally heavy. A sutured woman alone on a mattress. My heart ached for her, even as just an image.

Gary Baseman took it on with his series of 7 Selected Editorial Illustrations About Anxiety And Fears, Health And Human Wellness, 1995.

A basic, but crucial, question in the area of mental illness was asked by Aubrie Costello with her WHYCANTYOUTELLMEHOWUFEEL, 2017, with a code asking you to "BeThere" to text to 31996 to find out more ways to do exactly that.

Adam Enrique Rodgriguez showed the loneliness and confusion that may accompany mental illness with his Self Portrait #2 Out Of The Blue. Beautiful and more thought-provoking the longer you looked at it. I wound up randomly meeting him later on in the evening, and he gave me a lift back to Venice. We talked the entire drive about the importance of art in our lives, and how it really does have the capacity to shape our culture (after Bertolt Brecht). Rodriguez has one of the best stories about a career beginning ever, and is absolutely one to watch in the art world. He is also an awesome person that I am proud to call my new friend. Thanks, Adam!

Immigration was addressed by several artists, and rightly raised as an issue of mental health. How can you thrive and prosper when you're always looking over your shoulder in a country that is made up entirely of immigrants (aside from our Native population, who also often suffer greatly from mental illness, most likely from how terribly they've been treated in their own land).

Women and gender inequality was a big theme, and represented beautifully by several artists. This has been a year of reckoning for all that we have endured forever, and time really is up on that (awesomely illustrated this very morning by the perp walk by Harvey Weinstein that we were treated to all over the news. Richly deserved and ultra-satisfying to witness). The biggest piece on this was the Survivor Love Letter mural, with real notes to abuse survivors written and pinned on to the wall. Whoa.

I love love loved Be Gentle, 2018 from Ashley Lukashevsky, and its message of self-care. Loved.

The whole show is put on by an army of volunteers (and physically built out by recently released convicts), led by the wonderful Yosi Sergant. We first met on the first Obama campaign at a park in Compton, where the now Ex-President was speaking, so early on that he didn't even really have any real security detail to speak of. He worked with Shepard Fairey to conceive the "Hope" poster, and Fairey is always a presence in the fantastic events conceived by Sargent. I will go to every thing he ever does, as I'm always beyond impressed and inspired. Thank you, Yosi!

In the auditorium where the panels are held, there was a giant furry piece entitled The Power Of Safety, 2018 by Uzumaki. The truth that ART SAVES LIVES was done up on a big snuggly wall that Puff Daddy would have loved to stroke after smoking The Jeffrey in Get Him To The Greek.

Even with all the photos I'm showing you, you still have to go yourself, as I've barely scratched the surface of all the really, really great pieces of art. Like Ryan McCann reminding us that, in spite of it all, #LIFEISRAD, 2015. This blowtorch, oil, and acrylic piece on wood was also one of my faves. Because it's true. Or can be with the proper attention and care to each and every human being.

As you came to the end of the galleries, there was a bean counting system where you could vote by placing your bean in a jar that you felt was the most pressing issue. Tellingly, they were all filled about equally, because there are so many problems, and all of them are the most important to someone. And "We Say BS" on the myth that there are no real solutions. But there are, if we can only begin to work TOGETHER to solve them.

Imagine that. Because We Are Destined For Great Things, 2011 (By 2wenty) - if only we can get it together to become the nation we could - and should - be.

One where we understand that we're all in it together. That the Golden Rule is the best rule. That our neighbor's problems must be all of our problems if we're ever going to truly live in harmony. We must take care of each other, because in looking out for one another, we ALL rise.

Please treat yourself and your loved ones (especially the young ones!) to this wonderful art experience ... I promise that you will never forget it, and that you will be better for it. That's a pretty lofty statement for an art show, but this one deserves it. Heartfelt thanks to all involved in bringing We Rise to life. For bringing the issues out front. And most of all, for caring.

We Rise
1726 North Spring Street
Downtown L.A.
Through Monday, May28,2018