Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Mickalene Thomas, "Mama Bush (your love keeps lifting me) higher and higher"  Photo c/o Lehmann Maupin

Mickalene Thomas, “Mama Bush (your love keeps lifting me) higher and higher” Photo c/o Lehmann Maupin

Mickalene Thomas has a unique style that is nothing short of bodacious. Her colorful, glitter infused portraiture work is commands your attention and invites you delve into a deeper understanding of the person that is being portrayed.  Her use of interiors and recent pivot to abstract portraits were a mystery to me because I couldn’t connect the dots to the disparate mediums she employs in her practice.

Today I watched Thomas’ ode to her mother/muse in HBO’s 2014 documentary, “Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman”.  It was such an amazingly beautiful tribute that exemplifies the complexities of our relationships are and how those relationships shape who we are today.

I also saw an old ArtNet interview with the artist and it perfectly connected the dots between the work that defined her career, what inspired it and how it influences other areas of her creative practice.

I could pull from my own imagination, but I think reality is so much more raw and there’s so much more information and discomfort and excitement and happiness and beauty and all of these layers that you can pull from that I find exciting.”

In researching Thomas I learned that her interior work, which is strongly rooted in 70’s wood paneling, colorful, floral tapestries, shag rugs and dayglo, played a critical role in her photography and paintings.  The artistic forms are so strongly linked together that Thomas felt the need to recreate the conditions under which her portraits were created.  This was a critical element in understanding the portrait as a whole.  In this sense the surroundings were as much of a creative muse as the subjects themselves.

The documentary is under 30 minutes, if you don’t have access to HBO Docs, find a way to subscribe!

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Some people see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”~George Bernard Shaw

You know, some people may say it is unreasonable to charge a fee to attend an early preview of a museum that still doesn’t have operable indoor plumbing (especially when said museum will be free to the public when it opens in the fall), but Eli Broad prefers paths that lead to unconventional thinking.

(That’s why this George Bernard Shaw quote is one of his favorites.)

On February 15th, 3,500 lucky people seized the opportunity to get a glimpse inside Grand Avenue’s latest architectural showpiece (tickets for the preview sold out in 30 minutes).  After experiencing the space I am looking forward to seeing the Broad’s complete vision come to fruition in the fall.  Here’s what I love about the space in its current state after attending the preview last Sunday:

1.  The Veil (“The Honeycomb”, “The Asian Pear”, “The Cheese Grater”): The natural light that floods the 3rd floor gallery from the hundreds of skylights that span the acre of column free space was stunning and to see the expanse of the space really gives the Broad a tremendous amount of flexibility for curating The Broad’s collection in the future.

2.  The Glass Elevator (“The Shaft”):  If you’ve been up the BCAM elevator at LACMA then you know that Eli Broad has a preference for grand entrances.  The Broad features a tubular glass elevator and a cavernous escalator that takes visitors from the 1st to the 3rd floor.

3.  The Oculus (“The Glory Hole”). While the Honeycomb veil is a distinctive architectural feature, the fluidity of the veil forming the eye on the southern wall is an unexpected focal point.  While attempting to get a picture of this, a lamp-post was blocking the shot.  As two gentlemen were admiring the view across Grand Avenue I proclaimed “they gotta get rid of that lamp-post.”  At that point one of the men said, “yes we need to work on that”.  And in a classic case of hindsight, I now realize that I may have inadvertently offended Charles Renfro, one of the named architects at Diller Scoffido + Renfro,  the firm responsible for the building’s design.  Just add that to the long list of awkward art moments I’ve amassed over the years, but that’s a post for another day…

Perhaps the most unconventional aspect of the space was how the museum chose to highlight it.  While the Glass Elevator and escalators were not operable, visitors rode an enormous freight elevator that opens up to a panoramic view of the 3rd floor gallery.  The temporary exhibit “Sky-Lit”, Volume, Light and Sound offered two different mediums for the public to physically transform the space into a dynamic organism.  Speakers flanked the southern end of the gallery space where various recorded sounds played softly in the background both competing and harmonizing with the hollow sounds of the  gallery and the enthusiastic chatter among visitors meandering around the expansive space.


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As we reach the height of awards season with the Oscars, it is hard to imagine a time when the designer of a high profile individuals dress is NOT well known, but in 1953 when Jacqueline Onassis married John F. Kennedy, when she was asked who designed her gown she demurred and did not credit her designer’s name in the press.  According to the Huffington Post, a fashion columnist from the Washington Post was the only one to properly cite the designer as Ann Lowe.

Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, 1953.  Photo by Lisa Larsen//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images c/o Huffington Post

Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, 1953. Photo by Lisa Larsen//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images c/o Huffington Post

Ann Lowe was born into a family of dressmakers and seamstresses.  While still a teenager she began her formal design career by making gowns for socialites in Florida.  After attending segregated design courses in New York City, she grew her design house and permanently relocated there where she continued to cater to the social elite.  The quality of detail and the creativity of her designs was a well-kept secret hidden among an exclusive list of clientele, and as a result the designer limited her production. Despite the demand, operationally the designer produced at a financial loss and never reached the same levels of profitability as her contemporaries.

Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History.

For more information on the work of Ann Lowe, click here.

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I don’t know how it is possible, but each picture I see of Naomi Sims is simply flawless.


Designer Zac Posen posted some pictures of Naomi Sims today on Instagram, and this one was truly gorgeous.  An original street style artist if there ever was one.  Bonus:  I am obsessed with capes but I live in Los Angeles so long for cape weather…*sighs*.

Naomi Sims, New York Times Magazine, 1967.  Photo:  Gosta Peterson, Credit: The Cut

Naomi Sims, New York Times Magazine, 1967. Photo: Gosta Peterson, Credit: The Cut

Alas, just when I thought that first picture was the ultimate, I stumbled on this Naomi Sims 1967 photo from the New York Times Magazine. The cover was legendary and this shot by GÖSTA PETERSON shows that when an artist and muse work well together it is hard to know where one ends and the other begins.

For her ability to work a camera and some boss capes, I am dedicating my artist a day post to a legend.  Naomi Sims was a stylish artiste in every possible way.

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One day, I will crack the code to Retna’s personalized alphabet that is a skillful fusion of Old English, Hebrew, Asian and Arabic calligraphy.  In the meantime, I enjoy his work in abstraction.  I love the symmetry and repetition in his murals. This particular one was painted for Jeffrey Deitch when he was at MOCA circa 2013.


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Photo Credit:  Designer Con 2014

Photo Credit: Designer Con 2014

I adore Designer Con. Every November, artists descend upon Pasadena’s Convention to celebrate Pop Art of all forms. DCon is a mind boggling bonanza of collectible art including paintings, illustrations, plush toys, vinyl toys, street art and one of a kind clothing.


With close to 350 vendors on site, there was a lot to take in. Here’s a round up of some of my favorites.


1.  Martin Hsu.  I’ve been a big fan of Martin Hsu’s work since I had an opportunity to see his work at DCon 2013.  He’s had a busy year, and it was great to hear about some of his new ventures.  My husband picked up a great piece by the artist today.

2.  Lil Art Bodega.  If you are in Downtown Vegas, go check out the Bodega!  They have an awesome collection of one of a kind t-shirts, jackets, bags, prints and unique graphic design.  The Lil Art Bodega has roots in NYC and hip hop and artist Tanya MIchelle has curated a great collection Pop art that will make you smile.



3. Speaking of smiles, I was turned into a Minion!  Artist Kris Kehasuk Jaren at Minion Me was on hand doing speed sketches and transforming visitors into cute Minions.  Kris got me.  I loved this.

IMG 8827 from CultureShockArt on Vimeo.


4.  The Stoop.  This booth featured a collective of cool creatives including Supahcute, Vanessa Ramirez and Orbital Ox, among others.  I’ve been a huge fan of Supahcute’s ability to curate and highlight amazing artists.  Vanessa Ramirez’s work is awesome, check her work out!  I picked up one of her sketch to add to my collection of art books.  It was great learning more about her artistic process, which for all the folks on the Stoop included copious amounts of caffeine! My kind of peeps.



5.  Zero+ Publishing

On the subject of art books, I have so many of them my house is looking like an art library!  I just about passed out when I saw the amazing collection of street art photography showcased by Zero+ Publishing and Kirk Pedersen.  Kirk has an amazing eye and a gift for bringing together like-minded street artists.  It’s a growing, competitive industry whose evolution is captured beautifully by these books.  Many are signed and unique limited edition works that are meant to be a showpiece.  My Christmas list has a few of these amazing works on it!


6.  Urban Aztec.  Bay Area artist Jesse Hernandez was getting a lot of love from fellow artists at his booth today and it was easy to see why.  His airbrushed work is a stunning homage to indigenous cultural roots and blends animation with paint.  He has an impressive resume that includes works shown in the Oakland Museum, the Cosmopolitan, Juxtapose and Rolling Stone Magazine.

When I first went to DCon in 2013 I was struck by the level of camaraderie and support the artists and patrons had for each other. I was happy to see that collaborative supportive environment again this year.

Designer Con runs through Sunday, November 9th at the Pasadena Convention Center.

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This fall is all about taking a step back in time. Between October’s Hello Kitty Con at the Geffen and Anya Hindmarch’s irreverent close to London’s Fashion Week today, I feel like my 6th grade flip top desk exploded in cloud of Crayolas, keychains, puffy stickers, jelly bracelets and Lip Smacker lip gloss (anyone know if I can still get a tube in Dr. Pepper?).

Anya Hindmarch, Spring '15 Collection at LFW.  Photo Credit Net-A-Porter

Anya Hindmarch, Spring ’15 Collection at LFW. Photo Credit Net-A-Porter

Anya Hindmarch’s Spring/Summer 2015 handbag line features customizable luxury leather stickers to add your own Chotchkie’s Flair to your satchel.  The Mickey hands are a curious choice that remind me of L.A. graf writer and designer Slick‘s L.A. hands.  These have been around for years.


Vinyl L.A. Hands by Slick x DISSIZIT

Vinyl L.A. Hands by Slick x DISSIZIT

When I first started collecting bags, Anya Hindmarch was one of the first true designers that I added to my collection.  I’ve always loved her more structured bags and was never a big fan of the whimsical side of her design aesthetic, but I have to admit, this collection is taking me back to the genesis of my love for handbags.

Photo Credit: Anya Hindmarch, Instagram

Photo Credit: Anya Hindmarch, Instagram

Let’s rewind the time machine to 1982.  I was all about anything Lavender, the show Dallas, leg warmers, L.A. Gears, rainbows and Unicorns… One day, while shopping at the mall, I saw a small nylon duffel purse embossed with a Unicorn.  The bag had an accompanying coin purse attached as a keychain to the outside of the purse.  I HAD to have that bag.  Being an entrepreneurial young spirit back then, I somehow managed to convince my friends to hold a yard sale (consisting of their stuff, not mine), with a portion of the proceeds going to my Unicorn bag purchase (I think I considered it a consulting fee for coming up with the brilliant idea of selling their possessions to aid in my conspicuous consumption).  Sadly, we didn’t make quite enough for me to purchase the bag, and my Grandma bought me one.  Once I got a taste I was hooked.  I had to have purses that would take me through the seasons, and when it was all said and done I had three Unicorn bags (Lavender, Burgundy and Black–Perfect for Summer, Fall and Winter!).

So there you have it.  This is where my true obsession with handbag hoarding began!

Photo Credit: Anya Hindmarch, Instagram

Photo Credit: Anya Hindmarch, Instagram

I don’t think I’ll fully re-live those memories by adding a new Anya Hindmarch to my collection, but the collection is cute (I need the “I Shot JR” coin purse chain thing)….and I have to admit, I have a big smile thinking about those Unicorn bags…

Photo Credit: Etsy

Photo Credit: Etsy (NOT mine, but I wish it was)


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