Archive for the ‘Street Art’ Category


My new site is officially up!  I’m excited about trying something new and I invite you all to continue to follow my journey into contemporary art on TONDI.  I truly value all of my followers on WordPress and have learned so much from this first blog.  Cheers to a new beginning!

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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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I was in San Francisco during the holidays and was able to experience The Political Line at the De Young Museum.  This retrospective of Keith Haring took a curatorial deep dive into the artist’s creative psyche.  The show highlights his portfolio of work that addresses race, power, sex, political conflict, the environment and technology. This is a refreshing departure from his whimsical persona epitomized by the Pop Shop or his brave mission to humanize the ravages of AIDS in the 80’s.  The Political Line shows Haring as an artist who emerged from the shadows of Warhol to deftly straddle the line between commerce and his disdain for money and the corruption of power it causes.

In the weeks following my visit to the show I have been reflecting on how art has played a prominent role in crystallizing the emotions circling our current tragedies. Whether it is the distrust and unrest around the U.S. militarized police complex in Ferguson, Mo, the horrific assassinations in Paris, or the tragic, massive bloodshed taking place in Nigeria, artists have played a cathartic role in articulating emotions that are often too difficult to put into words.  In this way, Haring’s artistic eye acted as a mirror into the cultural zeitgeist of the time.  I was most struck by the elaborate totems and large-scale installations depicting wealth, power and control.  One standout piece was “the Great White Way, 1888”.

It is a fantastical piece depicting a vicious cycle of power, corruption, money, false idolatry, enslavement, and brutality. I am not linking to the piece here, as it is simply something that should be experienced in person, nevertheless a simple Google search (NSFW/adult content) will give you a sense of scale.

Here are just a few of my favorite pieces from the show juxtaposed with quotes from Keith Haring’s Journals.  I was particularly interested in Haring’s prescient fear of media/technology, which was a prominent theme in the show.



An artist is a spokesman for a society at any given point in history. His language is determined by his perception of the world we all live in.  He is a medium between ‘what is” and ‘what could be’.”

IMG_9259IMG_9623“All of the officers who killed Michael Stewart were again dismissed of charges. Continually dismissed, but in their minds they will never forget. They know they killed him. They will never forget his screams, his face, his blood. they must live with that forever.”  ~ on Michael Stewart, March 28, 1987



IMG_9619“Business is only another name for control. Control of mind, body and spirit.”

IMG_9296“The image maker may be more important now than at any other time in the history of man because he possesses qualities that are uniquely human. The human imagination cannot be programmed by a computer. Our imagination is our greatest hope for survival.”


Keith Haring: The Political Line is on view at the De Young Museum in San Francisco now through February 26, 2015 (the 25th anniversary of Haring’s death).  

For more info:


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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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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.







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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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