Garry Winogrand

There’s so much wrapped up in this one picture, I don’t know where to begin.  His quote is priceless and it brings so much depth into the shot.  If I taught a creative writing class, I’d have my students write a story stemming from this one picture. Alternatively, if you had to sum up this picture in four words what would they be?


My Answer?

Ten minutes on Facebook.

Happy Monday!


Here’s my weekly recap of my favorite discoveries found online this week.

Duro Olowo's "More Material" at Salon 94. Photo Credit: Vogue

Duro Olowu’s “More Material” at Salon 94. Photo Credit: Vogue

Duro Olowu’s “More Material”

I’ve been so preoccupied with work, life, drought-proofing our yard (we removed 2/3 of our lawn, *self-aggrandizing pat on back*), that I’m having gallery withdrawals.  If I could transport myself to any show, here’s where I’d go right now.  Designer Duro Olowu pulls from many inspirations in music and art in his fashion which is why his show “More Material” at Salon 94 in N.Y. is a sensorial parade.  Olowu’s group show features a collective of artists, photographers, designers, and entertainers whose work touches on the duality of femininity and rebellion. I love how this show assembles a diverse group of artists whose work connects to Olowu’s vision for the show, while also serving as a platform showcase for the designer’s Spring 2014 line of intricately designed capes.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a cape!


“Disco Bomb” by Martin Kippenberger, MOCA, 2014. Photo Credit: CultureShockArt

Panic in the Disco

“Let’s Dance-How we turned DJs into Superstars” by Ian McQuaid

I spent my 20’s in underground clubs, where in the 1990’s in San Francisco there were an overabundance of house, hip hop, techno and acid jazz venues.  During that time the DJ was the architect of the evening and these “inscrutable masters of records” held the power to levitate a room.

Tank Magazine recently published this fantastic essay on the state of dance music and it’s transformation from group transcendence to performance art.  In a technological age of social media that enables detachment from the physical world, I am not surprised that the role of the DJ has been recast from the behind the scenes “experience maker” to becoming the experience themselves.  “Silent Disco” is a perfect example of detachment while the proliferation of the celebrity DJ plays into shift in focus over music (I was so tempted to name names here, but you know).  Music no longer becomes the shared experience, the shared experience comes from the uniqueness of the delivery. Speaking of experiences, I suggest playing Barbara Tucker’s “I Get Lifted” while you read this article and you may get a feel for the good ol’ days this piece transported me back to.


No Touching!  Ovation’s New Web Series “Touching the Art”

Ovation TV just launched a new web series that tackles the ever vexing question, “What’ is Contemporary Art, and why don’t people get it?”  In an irreverent, tongue in cheek format, Ovation’s new series attempts to bring humor and accessibility to pressing issues in Contemporary Art, bridging the gap between art insiders who deal with these themes and outsiders who may be intimidated by the art world.  The premier episode aired today, and I loved that the all female panel (particularly their reasons for it).

As an outsider who loves Contemporary Art, I really loved the show; I think it will resonate with “Franconian” millennials who would like the pacing and dry wit of the moderator who shifts between the roles of artist and skeptic (plus it’s only 5 minutes; why are web series so short?).  The themes were solid and the topics entertaining.  While they tried to appeal to multiple demographics, you could tell Ovation wanted to keep the show self-aware enough to avoid dumbing down the content. As a result, there’s still quite a bit of insider art world lexicon that will likely turn off people not following Contemporary art in Los Angeles or New York, on the flip side it’s rapid pace and quick fire responses will give outsiders a glimpse into the evolving dynamics that shape the artistic landscape of L.A., and it just may encourage people to do a deeper dive on their own. I think it’s a fantastic forum that delves into the many topics I see explored by my favorite arts writers on Twitter, and I think it’s great that they have a new forum for them to share their ideas.  Can’t wait to see more!


I’m trying something new.  Here’s my Friday round up of my absolute favorite posts from last week in Fashion, Music, Art, and Food.  All posts are inspired by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.  So let’s jump in!

1.  Kara Walker-Indypendant Article



The Kara Walker Domino Sugar Factory exhibit has closed, and I have to say I had mixed feelings about this particular project.  I’ve long admired Kara Walker’s work, her creative process and the sheer emotional gravitas behind this immensely profound project.  But there was a nagging part of me asking, “is this just provocative?”  I came across this piece written in the Indypendent that touches on the sensitive nerve that is exposed when I think about this piece.  In a society obsessed with selfie opps, I am appalled by how many people chose to experience this work.  The article sheds some light on that ennui that surely would have detracted from my experience had I been able to see it in Williamsburg.  I’d love to hear Kara Walker’s reaction to the article and wonder if it was all an expected element of the experience.


2.  JR’s container project in La Havre


Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Does this man ever sleep?  I’ve been really impressed with how JR has been able to push his creative expression into new mediums.  Last week the artist culminated his “Women Are Heroes” series by covering a container ship with eyes from one of the women featured in the 7 year project, then took some amazing shots of the container ship sailing the seas.  He also continues his exploration of ballet by photographing and pasting dancers in and on shipping containers.  There was even a brief Yessin Bey/Mos Def cameo, all of which were chronicled on Instagram this week.  If JR stays true to form, there will be a documentary on the unfolding of “Heroes'” last days.  Read more about the project here.


3.  When the beautiful Caroline Issa recently Instagrammed a picture of herself surrounded by an equally beautiful canopy of Orchids at the Dior Couture show this week, I had to see the show.  Not only was the set design stunning, I will be dreaming about each and every one of these coats! In addition I now want a belt, make that ALL of the accessories, bone straight hair with a middle part and white eye shadow.  I think I can make the last two happen :)


4.  This week’s iTunes download:

My advice to you this weekend? Find a dollar, download this song, get in your car Saturday morning, and go find an adventure… and when you do, please tell me all about it.


Have a FABULOUS weekend everyone!

Storytelling plays such an essential role in our lives because they create a level of connectedness that’s achieved through relatable or shared experiences.  Great stories provide the bridge between our imagination and reality in remarkable ways.  When I have a strong emotional response to art it is usually associated with a story that I immediately attribute to a piece.  The story that I conjure allows me to relate to the piece in some measurable way.

If you have been following my blog for the past few years (and if you have THANK YOU) you may know that one of the founding artists featured on my site is JR.

I have some of his work in my collection, however if I could own a single piece, it would be a print of this.

Rafael Lorenzo y Obdulia Manzano, Cuba, 2012, JR and Jose Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

Rafael Lorenzo y Obdulia Manzano, Cuba, 2012, JR and Jose Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

The mural was created in Cuba through a collaboration among JR, José Parlá and the Havana Biennale in 2012.  The two artists fused their very different creative styles against the aging canvas of old buildings in Havana. Conceptually, JR and Parlá wanted to tell the stories of regular people and their lives in Cuba.  JR’s photos were wheatpasted onto walls and combined with symbolic calligraphy scripted by Parlá.  The result is a visual representation of the subjects “telling their stories”.  The project included 25 murals constructed throughout Havana, and up until that point any public images previously shown in this manner were primarily of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

“I guess there’s always politics in putting up a photo” ~~JR 

The duos creative synergies were captured in a 30 minute short film documenting their process and the people photographed in this project.  While JR and Parlá did not intend to bring politics into this project, this video brilliantly captures the essence of the individuals featured with some very interesting byproducts.  The interpretations of the people in the featured communities reflected the realities of their neighborhoods and living conditions.  The lens through which they view the work was influenced by how the society at large reveres art as both a creative expression and a vehicle for political communication.  Only politicians and celebrities were put on display in this manner, suggesting that they were the only ones with the right to have likeness shared publicly; the inference being that only the stories of celebrities, musicians and politicians are worth sharing.  You could see the paradigm shift taking place once they saw their neighbors highlighted in this way.  Their observations were intriguing, however the reactions of the featured subjects themselves were beautifully showcased in the film.

Alfonso Ramón Fontaine Batista, Cuba,2012, JR and    José Parlá.  Photo Credit:  JR-Art.net

Alfonso Ramón Fontaine Batista, Cuba,2012, JR and José Parlá. Photo Credit: JR-Art.net

“They are the same.  The man is damaged and the wall is as well.  The only difference is that the wall isn’t laughing.”    

With their aging inextricably linked, the juxtaposition of the aging walls with the aging models were accentuated through Parlá’s technique of ripping through pieces of the portraits revealing the fading facade of the building underneath.  The result was a compelling commentary on fading memories accompanied by a visual representation of oral history.

I first heard about this short film during the celebrity saturated media circus that is Art Basel Miami.   The documentary was released at an exclusive Basel party at the Standard in 2012.  It is refreshing to view this film long after the media hype surrounding JR and the celebrity that he has amassed over the past 2 years. This is a humbling look into the creative process between two artists and the influence of their work on people who deserve to tell their story.

To see the full short film, see the video below or click here.


P.S. I had to share the video for one of the songs featured in the film too.  “Yo Aprendi” by Danay Suarez is now on summer rotation in my music collection!

I took a little break from Culture Shock Art in May, and I am so happy to be back at the keyboard sharing my finds in art, music, and fashion.

My Dad fell ill last month and it was the first time I had ever seen him sick with more than a cold much less a week laid up in the hospital.  It was surreal, frightening, confusing and unsettling.  Despite that I learned a lot about my Dad during that week in the hospital, and I am happy to say that he is home recovering and getting stronger every day!

My love for music came from my Dad who would listen to Pharoah Sanders, Elton John, Sergio Mendes, Credence, always blending jazz, folk, funk and rock seamlessly without regard to falling into stratified categories.  The diversity of my taste in music was directly influenced by him.

Most importantly we laugh!  A love for comedy has always been shared between us and we are always quoting Seinfeld episodes.  I made it my mission to make him laugh as much as possible when he was feeling ill (when I wasn’t questioning everything the nurses and doctors were doing).  One thing he doesn’t know is that I call him the black Larry David because he always finds humor in the most awkward situations, and awkward is practically my middle name.  So in the spirit of awkward, I’m sharing one of my favorite pictures of my Dad, who will probably kill me (after laughing first) once my mom shows him this.

Back in the day my Dad drove Triumphs, played pool and hung out with Jazz greats like Pharoah Sanders in San Francisco.  The definition of cool.  Above all that he loved tennis; so much so that he also had some mean ping-pong skills as evidenced by a lunchtime snap captured here.



Behold the porkchop side burns, the fro, the toothpick in the mouth and the toothpick slim skinny trousers…add some ping pong?  Well, you can forget the dads on that famous Tumblr site (which is possibly the best website ever), my dad is THE OG hipster.  Bow down and raise a can of PBR, because my dad is awesome!



To the man who taught me that anything is possible, always made me laugh, supports anything I do and loves me unconditionally I say, Happy Father’s Day!  Love you Dad.



Clare V Leather Card Case. Photo Credit: Clare Vivier

My love for handbags and hip hop have been mutually exclusive up until this moment, but now these two worlds have collided in a collaboration that I had to shine a spotlight on.  As part of the release of their next issue, the Australian lifestyle magazine Monster Children has enlisted the editorial styling of Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys.  Issue #43, which was released this week, showcases content culled by Mike D featuring surf, skate, hip hop and art luminaries.

Perhaps the coolest part of his guest editorial gig was that Diamond curated a limited edition box set of designed items that will be sold alongside the new issue of the mag.  The unique set includes items created by featured artists and designers that collaborated with Mike D.  If that isn’t enough for you, Clare V, Mike D and Monster Children are selling limited edition bags and leather card cases to commemorate this design equivalent of a cipher!


I am obsessed with the artwork designed by Mike D that lines this Clare V’s Cartable.  The slim canvas tote has tan leather handles and is screenprinted with MDMCCV; as cool as it looks on the outside, I’d totally rock this bag inside out.  It’s an awesome piece that I may just buy for my husband and then steal from him immediately…

Clare V Cartable. Photo Credit: Clare Vivier

Clare V Cartable. Photo Credit: Clare Vivier

Back to the box set.  I really love the photography of Josh Cheuse that’s also featured in the limited edition set.  If you are not familiar with the artist’s work, check out this video.

Stussy – Josh Cheuse from Stussy on Vimeo.

The box set is available for sale on June 16th, but Monster Children is accepting pre-orders now.








Image Credit: HOC on Pinterest

I think the most interesting developments in Hip Hop are taking place off the commercial radio dial and buried deep in the underground.  Let’s go mining.

I sat down with the reclusive underground producer/artist RenRok in his L.A. studio.  We talked about the state of hip hop, musical influences, and his most recent project called “Sixty Studies” whose title was inspired by an unlikely source.



CSA:  Where did you get the title “Sixty Studies” from?
RenRok:  The title came from Etude books I played as a kid.  Etude books are typically short compositions designed or prepared for violin and piano to serve as a training or teaching mechanism to learn a specific skill.  You practice the etudes over and over and they are designed to help students learn or master a technique of that instrument that they will use for larger pieces or concertos.  I play the violin. Actually, my first introduction to music was through formal training in classical music, specifically violin.

CSA:  Why create this album?
RenRok:  I created this album because what seems to be lacking in a lot of music are joints that go to the essence and emotion of a particular piece of music.

CSA:  What do you mean by that?
RenRok:  In a lot of music today that I would consider good or interesting hip hop, producers tend to want to show off every little technique in their bag of tricks.  Whether that be excessive use of stutter techniques, filtering, plug-in effects, weird samples, etc

The purpose of this album was to get to the point of specific old school techniques used in hip hop namely in MPC style productions.

CSA:  Who is your audience for this album?
RenRok:  My audience for this album is anyone who loves honest, underground hip-hop.  But the more I think about it, I believe this album is a dedication to underground producers who do it for the love of music.

CSA:  What do you mean by honest hip hop?
RenRok:  That’s a complicated and loaded question, but I’ll try to answer it. Hip hop which I would consider to be not ” honest” seems to fall in 2 broad categories:
1.  Music produced, written, and created simply or primarily to sell the largest number of records whose creativity is driven solely by the tastes of the masses at that time.
2.  Production that is primarily focused on mimicking or copying the works of prior esteemed producers without any originality or creativity of their own.

CSA:  So do you have some examples?  I’m not gonna have you put anyone on blast though! How about giving us some examples of honest hip hop.  
RenRok:  Haha.  Yes, as to the first category, there are albums that have a great deal of commercial success that I would consider honest b/c the artist created the music from their heart or life experience and didn’t give a damn about whether the listener would “get it” or understand. Some albums that come to mind in this category would be Wu Tang’s “Enter the 36 Chambers”, Cypress Hill’s first album (the 1991 self-titled debut, “Cypress Hill”), or “Critical Breakdown” by Ultramagnetic MC’s.

Those are albums that when first heard them, you’ve never heard anything quite like them and you know the artist had no assurance that the style would work, but they did it anyway.

As to the second category there’s a school of thought in production that I don’t consider to be “honest” that’s solely aimed to replicate the sound of a revered producer whether that be Dilla-esque, Primo-esque, Pete Rock-esque… Everyone utilizes elements of these great producers because they’ve listened to them over the years so much, but you should always try to add or develop your own individual and unique style.

CSA:  Let’s talk a bit more about the style and technique that you used in this album.  
RenRok:  Someone listening to this album and each of the tracks will find many similarities b/c they were produced in the same, what I would call “MPC Style,” but within each of these songs there were subtle differences in the techniques that were used. Some involved heavily chopped vinyl samples, some tracks involve live instrumentation sampled into an MPC and some tracks involve synthesizers, keyboards and other modules MIDI-ed up and sequenced through an MPC.  I’ve also intentionally included tracks that are interludes, beats for vocalists to spit on later, one joint is a re-mix, and others are MPC abstractions.

Taken as a whole the tracks on this album are intended to mimic the classic Etude books that I studied while growing up which exemplify distinct musical techniques that can be used when playing a specific instrument. (in this case an Akai MPC)

CSA:  Wow that sounds pretty heavy and conceptual.  Will non-producers get it?
RenRok:  Absolutely!  This isn’t a high brow, avant-garde, art house type of joint. Just bump it in your car on your way to the house party, the beach, or picking up some fresh new kicks and just enjoy it!

Thanks RenRok, you brought us some classic beats and taught us all something new too!

You can listen to Sixty Studies on Soundcloud by clicking below.

From there you can download the entire album for FREE on Bandcamp.com!


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