Monday Funday: Signs by Chris Ballas

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Sign maker Chris Ballas‘ art show during First Friday Santa Cruz earlier this month reminded me of two things – all the signage I saw cruising around town on my bike as a kid and a list of my adult vices including beer and tattoos. Adorning the walls of Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant were hand painted signs from the young artist who values traditional hand lettering technique and exudes old school style.

Merging art and function, Ballas’ work is clean, simple, and approachable. His art showcases an attention to detail and honors classic craftsmanship. Not overworked nor complicated, his pieces are much more literal and still playful. With such a clear and creative point of view, Ballas is definitely an artist to keep an eye on!

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Monday Funday: Screaming Hand 30th Anniversary

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Acrylic on wood by (L-R) Jim Phillips, son Jimbo Phillips, and grandson Colby Phillips

I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Screaming Hand 30th Anniversary Show during the VIP preview event on Thursday night at Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH). Artists featured in the show, MAH members, and the who’s who of Santa Cruz skateboarding came together for an awesome night. Honoring one of the most iconic images in skateboard culture and its creator Jim Phillips, the MAH was screaming with so much energy and excitement, and so was I. It was my first night volunteering at the museum, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

The Screaming Hand 30th Anniversary Show has been traveling around the world for the past year, showcasing Jim Phillips’ original logo interpreted by 50+ artists from all over the world. The final stop is where it all began (Santa Cruz circa 1985), and opened to the general public during First Friday Santa Cruz festivities. The celebration will continue as the show remains at the MAH for the next eight months.

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In addition to hearing words from MAH Executive Director Nina Simon and Jim Phillips himself, I mingled with some of the artists in the show who were so incredibly stoked to be included. A MAH member was equally excited that the event was bringing together a variety of different people for a common interest and spectacular show. What an exciting event for the Santa Cruz community, the MAH and their mission, “To ignite shared experiences and unexpected connections.”

Seeing how different artists portray the Screaming Hand in their own format and style really gives the show its exuberance. It’s an epic collection of inspired works. From a fun and bright mixed media on panel by Mark Gonzalez, a stencil spray paint on panel by Jason Adams, a hand lettering acrylic on wood by Thomas Campbell, an ink/pencil on paper by Eric Dressen, to photographs of screaming  Jason Adams by Jai Tanju, a modern Bauhaus-like spray paint on panel by Ben Raney, a neoclassic inspired oil on canvas by Jason C. Arnold, and so many more. These pieces are bound to transcend expectations of skate art for museum goers.

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So much fun both Thursday and Friday nights. I bumped into and caught up with friends, some people I haven’t seen in awhile like Jai Tanju and Jimbo Phillips. I met artists I’ve admired for awhile like Jeremy Fish and Caia Koopman, and then legends like Jason Jesse. He is genuinely one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met. I’m so thankful to call Santa Cruz home and stoked that “my life is dope, and I do dope sh*t!” (- K. West)

Stay tuned for more art, culture, and design I think is rad! Thanks for stopping by! xo ❤

Fresh Friday Finds: Caia Koopman

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“Grease Monkey” Painting © Caia Koopman

I first discovered Santa Cruz artist Caia Koopman a few weeks after moving here in fall 2013. She was showing and selling some pieces at Rachael & Steve Caballero’s old Bela La Vie Boutique & Gallery in Campbell. I even featured that “Gear Up” show in an old blog post on .stART here. Little did I know I’d become such a huge fan after seeing Koopman’s surrealistic masterpieces in person that night.

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“Dream Escape” Painting © Caia Koopman

What I find so rad about Koopman’s work are the rich dreamscapes and activist themes. She even refers to herself as being an “artivist” on her Instagram (super clever!). The majority of her art features women exuding femininity juxtaposed with being badass, ready to kick ass and take names. Gorgeously woven into the portraits are animals, like hummingbirds, owls, dragons, and unicorns. I love the ethereal approach she takes on realistic issues, and I basically want to be or be friends with every woman she paints! All inspired by her enthusiasm for skate culture, punk rock roots, and love of animals – I feel like we’re kindred spirits.

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“Let Me Out” Painting © Caia Koopman
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“Moonrise Owl” Painting © Caia Koopman

I often see Koopman’s work displayed at restaurants and galleries all over town. I’d be stoked every time I could spot her art, recognizing the symbolic look and feel. The same unreal style seen in collections of Caia Koopman products, like shirts, leggings, jewelry, and more.

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❤ my new watch!

I always regretted not buying a print that night in Campbell. I must have gone back and forth, in and out of the shop, trying to decide which print and what size about five times. In the end, I walked away with nil. It’s now three years since I first saw those original Koopman’s, and I finally own one as of earlier this week. It’s not a painting but rather a more functional, wearable piece of Koopman art – a Bubo the Wise Owl Sport from Modify Watches. It’s so sick, and I’ve already gotten tons of compliments the few times I’ve rocked it. Can’t wait to add to my collection with a painting one of these days!

Caia Koopman has work featured in some upcoming group shows here in California. First, at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles opening on August 27 for their 10th Anniversary Exhibition and Femme to Femme Fatale: The Feminine in Contemporary Art show at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco opening September 17. Do yourself a favor, and visit caiakoopman.com to check out this Fresh Friday Finds!

Monday Funday: Lance Cyril Mountain’s “Multiple Personalities” at Seeing Things Gallery

I went to the opening night of Lance Cyril Mountain’s “Multiple Personalities” show at Jai Tanju‘s Seeing Things Gallery in San Jose this past Saturday. I checked out some rad art, met and congratulated Mountain, caught up with some dudes, and met the artist’s father and skateboard legend, Lance Mountain too. Somebody pinch me!

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Mountain’s “Multiple Personalities” exhibits minimalism through a variety of works – from mixed media collages with typewritten messages and large scale paintings to framed photographs, screen prints, and paintings on canvas. His pieces go back to basics by showcasing familiar lines, shapes, primary colors, earth tones and splashes of metallic. This approach provides viewers with an accessible and unassuming window into Mountain’s abstract visual form of expression.

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I got the chance to see owner Jai Tanju again and reconnect with San Jose local skater Jason Adams. I hadn’t seen Adams since his NYC visit back in 2010 when we checked out his “American Boarders” portrait at Paul Rusconi‘s solo show at Upper East Side’s Stellan Holm Gallery, and then a couple months later at The Movement‘s fifth art party presented by Jersey’s own Sic Chix Production. I got to catch up with The Kid again, but now on this cool spring Saturday night on the west coast in San Jose – just over the hill from my new hood and home. After nearly six months out here, I still can’t believe this is my life!

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Be sure to check out Lance Cyril Mountain’s “Multiple Personalities” at Seeing Things in San Jose if you find yourself in the South Bay these next few weeks. Visit http://www.seeinghthingsgallery.com for a full list of all artwork, pricing, and shows!

Monday Funday: Art Openings

I’M BAAACKKK! I’ve been on hiatus since my west coast move in September but am back at this blogging thing with my first official Cali-based post, a Monday Funday feature. These are friendly Monday reminders to always live in the moment, get out and have fun!

Today, I’ve got my hand picked calendar of this week’s events across the country.

NEW YORK CITY 

March 6th – 9th: The Armory Show at Piers 92 & 94 from 12p – 7p

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The Armory Show is one that I’ve always wanted to check out but constantly said, “next time.” This annual contemporary and modern art fair is the largest in New York City, showcasing over 2,000 artists from hundreds of galleries around the globe. So if you’re in the area and can treat yourself to sensory overload at its best, go for it! Tickets start at $40 day passes to $75 run of show passes. For more information, visit www.thearmoryshow.com.

JERSEY CITY, NJ

March 7th (JC Fridays): E. Tittlemouse & Co. presents “Women Power JC” at 246 Bay St. from 6p – 8p

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Who run the world?! Girls. This event presented by E. Tittlemouse & Co. features the diversity of Jersey City female artists and their talents. My friend, Rika Gunawan, will be there with her unique collection of handmade, limited edition hair accessories for women and children of all ages, Republic of Pigtails. Stop by and say hi!

This is just one of many events during this month’s “JC Fridays” presented by Art House Productions.  For a full calendar of events, visit www.jcfridays.com.

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BOONTON, NJ

March 7th: Anthony “Weird Eye” One’s “Something Wild” at Speakeasy Art Gallery 816 Main Street from 6p – 9p

AnthonyWeirdEyeOneI first met Anthony “Weird Eye” One back in March 2012 at his “Colorful Eye Candy” solo show and quickly became a fan of his work. Two years later, this painter, muralist and street artist takes his intricately patterned style of “movement and motion” and evolves into “Something Wild.” Watch “Weird Eye” One discuss the upcoming show presented by Speakeasy Art Gallery and check out a sneak peek here. For more event information, visit www.weirdeyedesigns.com.

SAN JOSE, CA                                                                                                    

March 7th: “Tangible: a handprinted exhibition” at Seeing Things Gallery 30 N. Third Street from 7p – 10p

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I finally got to check out Seeing Things Gallery, owned and operated by photographer Jai Tanju last month. I caught the current “Let’s Meet in the Middle” show featuring individual and collaborative mixed media artwork from husband and wife, David Imlay & Ana Carolina Pesce Imlay. This Friday, a new show, “Tangible” opens where the artists “have created photographs in the traditional sense, using their hands to make a physical object.” For more information, visit www.seeingthingsgallery.com.

FIRST FRIDAY SANTA CRUZ, CA

March 7th

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I couldn’t be more thrilled that Santa Cruz has tons of talented local artists and an abundance of inspiration to offer! I’m stoked to see as much as I can this Friday but really interested in trying to check out the following:

For a complete event listing, visit www.firstfridaysantacruz.com.

Art Opening: Caia Koopman’s “Gear up” at Bela La Vie Boutique & Gallery

The “Gear up” show featuring paintings by pop surrealist Caia Koopman at Rachael and Steve Caballero‘s Bela La Vie Boutique & Gallery is this Saturday, October 19 from 7-10pm at 311 E. Campbell Ave. in Campbell, CA. Come support local shops & artists if you are around!

Caia Koopman Gear Up Art Show Bela La Vie Boutique

From CaiaKoopman.com:

From the land of surf and sea, Caia Koopman has emerged as one of lowbrow’s preeminent female artists.

With a well-rounded background from her years spent obtaining her BA in Fine arts from UC Santa Cruz, to her time spent in the skateboarding and snowboarding scenes, Caia’s environment has both molded and provided an eclectic background that makes her paintings come to life. With her fine detail for beauty, inclinations toward nature, and collectiveness of the female spirit, Caia has quickly become one of the quintessential artists fully encompassing the elegance, strengths, and vulnerabilities of femininity.

Her work is alluring and has a hint of whimsy. It delves into the fascination of women, in both our conscious and subconscious ideals of the feminine role in society. Caia consistently submerses herself in subject that matter that is ingrained and full of cultural connotations.

Caia’s work is infused with a variety of cultural, political, environmental, sociological, and dreamscape references. Her influences serve as an amalgamation bringing her world to life through deliberate references and reverent imagery, with the finished work deriving strength and beauty from the artist herself. Her playfulness in her brush strokes is a constant struggle with the reality and solidity of the paint itself which comes across in her work as complimentary forces bringing together a gorgeous and powerful masterpiece.

Fresh Friday Finds: Alice X. Zhang

I am a week behind my regular schedule as my day job consumed all of me last week. Sorry about that! As a special treat, I am featuring a ridiculously talented designer and illustrator, Alice X. Zhang, as this week’s Fresh Friday Finds. Her solo show, “Moments,” opens tonight at Bottleneck Art Gallery in Brooklyn, NY with a reception from 7-10 pm. Enjoy a time lapse video of her process as she digitally paints “Virtuoso” drawn entirely in Adobe Photoshop CS5 on a Wacom Cintiq tablet below as well! Happy weekend!

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Monday Funday: PULSE Contemporary Art Fair at The Metropolitan Pavilion

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New York City played host to a trifecta of art fairs that brought in hundreds of gallery owners, artists, and contemporary art work from around the world this weekend. Frieze at Randall’s Island, NADA at Pier 36, and I was lucky enough to attend the third, PULSE New York at The Metropolitan Pavilion. I arrived there with my friend Skims, and we were immediately drawn in by the first booth of exhibitors, The West Collection (Pennsylvania). I gravitated toward the two pieces below and complete sensory overload commenced.

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Photo ©Bernadette Cruz

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Detail of 2011-24, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, screen print. ©Alex Lukas

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Detail of 2011-26, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, screen print. ©Alex Lukas

I knew very quickly that I was going to walk through the rest of the art show as if I was in a dream. I was in art heaven, if I believed there was such a thing, floating on cloud nine taking in the photographs, sculptures, installations, paintings, and all the hard work and emotions that come with. After meeting up with more friends to enjoy the show with, Skims and I left cultural stimulated a little more than two hours later. We grabbed a bite to eat nearby, and I didn’t even need a drink – now that’s rare!

See more photos I took of the gorgeously inspiring artworks below, including a friend of .stART here. Allison Green‘s “Everything Changes” series, which chronicles the life cycle of sunflowers, with exhibitor Susan Eley Fine Art (New York).

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Sunflowers, Oil on Canvas, 60″ X 48″. ©Allison Green

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©William Betts at Richard Levy (New Mexico)

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natural pigments and acrylic on canvas. ©Salustiano at Kavachnina Contemporary (Florida)

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Embassy, mixed media on heavy paper. ©Abel Barroso at Embassy Pan American Art Projects (Florida)

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Las Conquistadoras, acrylic on paper in artist frames, dimensions of installation vary. ©Carol K. Brown at Nohra Haime Gallery (New York)

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Discipline Considered an Option, c-print mounted on aluminum, 45″ X 69″. ©Rune Guneriussen at Waltman Ortega Fine Art (Miami – Paris)

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Piazza San Marco, hand cut archival paper, 50″ X 85.5″. Thomas Witte at Davidson Contemporary (New York)

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©Scherer & Ouporov at Kavachnina Contemporary (Florida)

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Focus, Tulle. ©Irfan Onurmen at C24 Gallery (New York)

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Give Me Everything, acrylic and enamel on canvas. ©Charles Lutz at C24 Gallery (New York)

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YO. ©Deborah Kass at Richard Levy (New Mexico)

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Untitled, acrylic on paper. ©Adam Parker Smith at Davidson Contemporary (New York)

Monday Funday: James Austin Murray’s “Ides of March” at St. Peter’s Church

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Photo © Bernadette Cruz

A couple weeks ago, my coworker David invited a few of us to the opening reception for “Ides of March” by New York City based artist James Austin Murray at the Narthex Gallery of St. Peter’s Church on Lexington and 54th Street. I took some photographs of Murray’s large scale oil on canvas works, which I later found out were specifically created for the space. His technique and application really reminded me of vinyl records.

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Tamesis I and II, oil on canvas, 82″ x 128″ x 4″. Photo © Bernadette Cruz

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Bomb Proof Anchor, oil on canvas, 52″ x 110″ x 4″. Detail photo © Bernadette Cruz

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Bomb Proof Anchor, oil on canvas, 52″ x 110″ x 4″. Detail photo © Bernadette Cruz

For more about James Austin Murray’s work, visit http://jamesaustinmurray.com/. “Ides of March” is on display at the Narthex Gallery of St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Ave. NYC, through April 25.

From James Austin Murray:

The color black, the subject of my painting, is all absorbing. It’s the hungriest of colors sucking all the visible spectrum into itself. The benefit of black is not only that it’s so deep, but the fact that paint is a pigment suspended in a binder. In oil pure black paint, absorbs the light spectrum and is also reflective. To me these paintings are not about the dark, as some have wondered aloud. They are about the light they reflect. I find them full of light and strangely bright for being black paintings. It is their blackness that make the reflections so much more effective. They reflect the colors around them, because of this each one feels like a new painting when placed in a different setting. All paintings reflect light, most reflect the spectrum of the colors in the paints. My current work is about painting and the paint. Are they also sculptures? No. They are paintings. If they were sculptures they would be sculptures about painting.

Opening Reception: “Friendly Fire” at Seeing Things Gallery

Jason Adams & friends collaborative art show opening reception for “Friendly Fire” at Seeing Things Gallery in San Jose, CA this Friday, March 29 at 7pm PT!

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