Fresh Friday Finds (Rerun): Angry Tiki God aka Allan Cruz

“We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run” 

image2The Boss, spray paint on plywood, 2016. © Angry Tiki God

Those of you who know me, know that I adore my family and am super close to them despite living 3,000 miles away. So it’s moments like when my brother, Fresh Friday Finds alum Angry Tiki God (Allan Cruz), recently painted and gifted this Bruce Springsteen painting to my brother-in-law and huge Boss fan, Henry, that makes me miss spending time with them even more. So for this week’s Fresh Friday Finds, I’m rerunning an old post about an amazingly talented artist (yes, I’m biased!), my big brother Angry Tiki God. Enjoy and have a rad weekend everyone! Spend it with people you love! ❤

GonzGonz, spray paint on plywood. © Angry Tiki God

New Jersey-based Angry Tiki God (Allan Cruz) is not only an awesome stencil spray paint artist, but he’s also my big brother. It’s his raw, unapologetic style that prompted me to share his work in this week’s Fresh Friday Finds. Inspired by his lifelong love of skateboarding and music, and artists like Logan Hicks, Shepard Fairey, Mark Gonzales, and Jason Adams, Angry Tiki God has been cranking out some really rad art featuring some of the most iconic figures of our lifetime.

BlondieBlondie, spray paint on plywood. © Angry Tiki God

JoeyJoey Ramone, spray paint on plywood. © Angry Tiki God

Growing up, I can’t remember a time when Allan wasn’t creating in some way. He built a mini ramp with our dad and uncles in the backyard, skated it day and night with his friends, spray painted logos, cut out grip tape designs, played Bouncing Souls and The Misfits songs on drums, wrote songs for the various incarnations of his band, and worked on his motorcycles. His need to express himself was loud and clear. So after decades of creating mostly for himself, it was no surprise that Allan kicked it into high gear in 2008, when the ladies of Sic Chix Productions and Subculture Skateshop asked him to be part of their first of many group art parties called The Movement.

Since then, under the moniker Angry Tiki God, Allan’s fresh talent and technique continues to evolve. He focuses now on his stencil spray paint art continuing to showcase his work in solo shows and with The Movement. He is also available for commission work so hit him up with your concepts and ideas. You can keep up with Angry Tiki God on his blog and Etsy shop, where he’ll be adding works for sale soon, like those posted above.

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In my personal collection. Thanks, bro! ❤

Joe Strummer, spray paint on plywood. © Angry Tiki God

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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!

Hump Day Hot Seat: Jessica Natal

Chillin’ in today’s Hump Day Hot Seat is an awesome friend and one of Jersey City’s finest! No matter how much time has passed, we always find ourselves having a blast together. She’s a rad chick – as wild as her hair – who can’t stop, won’t stop. An experienced graphic artist for hire, Jessica Natal, is someone to keep an eye on, both literally and figuratively. You just never know what she’ll get into next. Thanks for hanging out with me on .stART here., Jessy! And I got mad love to give…

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Photo © Bernadette Cruz

1. Who are you?

A 35 yr old graphic/web designer with artistic tendencies from the mean streets of Newark, NJ.

2. What do you do?

I web, I art, and I coffee. I coffee a lot.

3. When/Where/How did you get your start? 

I was about 4 or 5 when my sperm donor told me that the world was a huge painting. Thus began my love affair with texture, typography, and color.

4. How long have you been at it? 

I took a hiatus when I was 20 (had to go to work), but I found my way back at 31 after a soul sucking position working for a government contractor.
 
5. What is the most important thing we should know about you? 

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As Vampire Queen Merceline, Photo © Bernadette Cruz

I’m a work in progress. I fuck up. I over-design. I make jokes. We wake up the next day and life goes on.

6. Is there anyone else in your field that you particularly admire?

I really love Jessica Hische. She’s managed to bridge the gap between illustration and typography and it’s amazing to watch. Jessica Walsh is another fave – check her out. She’s incredible. Mind you, the “Jessica’s” is not lost on me.

7. What other types of art are you in to? 

I’m really into collage these days. It sounds corny, but you can make some cool shit using old letters, newspapers, and mod podge.

8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents? 
 
I’m really good at pissing off meatheads, cursing, and karaoke. That last one always surprises people.
 
9. What’s your favorite vice? 

Good ol’ fashioned whiskey.
 
10. How do you make it over the creative hump? 

Walk away. I shut down my computer, I put the brush down, and I answer the call from
within me for “drankin’.”

11. You eat food? What kind? Like to cook? 
 
Total foodie. Anything with cheese and sauce tickles my fancy.  The good sauce though,with more salt than anything.

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Selfie  © Bernadette Cruz

12. Truth or Dare? Elaborate. 

Truth. Mostly because there’s nothing you can ask of me that I haven’t already done.

13. What is your most prized possession?

Probably my ability to adapt. You can shoot anything at me, and I’ll adapt. And I have to say, those are my proudest moments.

 

Refreshed and Renewed

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Photo © Bernadette Cruz

I’m baaaack! You know you missed me.

After more than a two year hiatus, it’s time to share more up and coming art, culture, and design I think is rad. I love writing about the arts, supporting artists and creatives whose passion for their crafts are undeniable, and inspiring people to be more creative. What prompted this resurrection you may ask? Well, I felt inspired!

I’ve been on The Master Cleanse for the past two weeks. (Today’s my last day! YAY!) It’s a super intense yet rewarding detox. A way to refresh and renew – body, mind, and soul. This year’s cleanse, my third year in a row, was even more necessary since I left my job in April and needed to clear my head from all that was. Out with the old, in with the new if you will. Not only was this experience an awesome boost for me physically, but the cleanse really helped me focus and totally envision where I see myself in the foreseeable future. So I thought, what better place than to .stART here.

I’m so stoked to cultivate more art, culture, and design through my lens with you. With an improved look, I’ll be bringing back all of your favorite features starting tomorrow with a brand spanking new Monday Funday, then more later in the week with some Hump Day Hot Seat, Thursday Three, and Fresh Friday Finds. Big kudos to all my awesome guests who have participated in the past and those still to come! Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

Fresh Friday Finds: Seeing Things Gallery

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“Eat With Your Eyes,” says photographer Jai Tanju, co-owner of Seeing Things Gallery located in downtown San Jose with wife, Blanche Gonzalez. Oftentimes, that’s totally what happens there – a sense of visual nutrition, filled with inspiration and collective ideas. The gallery exhibits monthly solo and group shows, sells art, photo books, zines, tees, and totes.

Deadbeat Club: Field Trip

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I’ve been lucky enough to check out some really rad art these past few months now that I live and work nearby. From Lance Cyril Mountain’s “Multiple Personalities” mixed media show to Deadbeat Club’s “Field Trip” group photography show, and I recently stopped by the gallery to check out “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore,” a Morrissey group show currently on display.

Morrissey Group Show – Current Exhibition

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Frida – Resident Dog

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All Photos © Bernadette Cruz

Follow Seeing Things Gallery on Instagram and Facebook for more information and upcoming events. If you find yourself in the South Bay this weekend, Friday 6/6 & Saturday 6/7, stop by  their booth at the SubZERO festival in downtown San Jose and say hi. They will be selling some books, zines, and other merch.

 

Hump Day Hot Seat: James V. Mignogna

 

seattleviewtourists_Photo © James V. Mignogna

1. Who are you? 

James V. Mignogna The V is for Vincent. It was my grandfather’s name.

2. What do you do? 

These days?  Well up until about five months ago, I was working at the International Center for Photography in NYC helping to keep their darkrooms humming.  That, and of course, shooting any chance I could get. These days… well I gave that up to be a stay at home papa to my eight month old son.  I was able to build a pretty professional darkroom in my attic, so I’m still able to work. So I guess the answer to this question right now is, feed, corral, wrastle and otherwise adore my little gremlin boy (as in that Bugs Bunny cartoon, not Mogwai). Also, I’ve been printing. I guess you’d call me a fine art photographer. I’m currently printing out a series for a solo show that will be opening in September at the Mamaroneck Artists Guild in Larchmont, NY.  They are orotone variants… palladium prints… hand painted emulsion on 24k gold guilded vellum. It’s keeping me pretty busy.

3. When/Where/How did you get your start?

At Photography?  Well the old joke is that I got a PhD in photography from my father. “Push here, Dummy.”  Really, he was the first person who got a camera in my hands. He was a bit of an amateur shutterbug and always had a camera or two lying around the house. He was generous enough to let me play with one. I also took a photo class in high school. You know how people say they get hooked the first time they see an image come up in the developer? I’m no different. Maybe not super original, but no less true. Jesus, that would have been what… 27 years ago? Wow. I may not be as young as I think I am.

Anyway, I’ve had a camera on me, off and on, since then. It’s always been part of my identity, but I only maybe in the last six or seven years decided that I should stop running around it. This is just who I am. I’ve only been starting to try to show my work in a serious way in the last three years or so, but I’ve gotten some good responses from it. At the heart of it, it’s a connection to my pop. It’s been several years since he passed on, but it’s kind of an unspoken way I keep him close. Funny I should say that it’s unspoken, because for a time there, photography was the only thing we COULD talk about. Some fathers and sons have baseball. We had photography.

4. How long have you been at it?

I guess I kinda answered that one.

5. What is the most important thing we should know about you?

The most important. hmm. I don’t know about most. I guess that depends who you are. What would I tell you about my work? I guess that all of my photography is “straight.” There are some people who would tell you to “make photos, don’t take them.”  I don’t know. For me, I like to take them. The act of extraction from the real world is possibly the greatest strength of photography. I am a photographer by choice, not default. I like to make reference to painting and etching, but it is always photos of real things described as they are. For me to see what is in the world, to record and venerate that is an act of saying “yes” to existence. It’s an act of reverence. It’s really not that unlike prayer.

6. Is there anyone else in your field that you particularly admire? 

So many. Really too many to mention. Mostly, I still lean towards a middle 20th century look, so you’d find my inspiration in Frank, Friedlander, Erwitt, Davidson, Winogrand, Kertész, HCB, Mary Ellen Mark, W. Eugene Smith… I also love the work of Salgado, Kratochvíl, Kashi, Haviv… Ernst Haas and Saul Leiter… so many… I also draw inspiration from lots of my talented friends, Daniel Elliott, Denis Yermoshin, Sumner Wells Hatch, Ed Cheng… I really could go on and on and on, and I hate the idea of leaving anyone out.

7. What other types of art are you in to? 

Painting. I love painting. I’m also a great fan of etching and printmaking. Sculpture is a real love of mine as well. It is really the art form I would love to try, but it just feels so foreign to anything I’ve done before… I just imagine Cellini pouring the bronze for his Persius with the Head of Medusa and I’m just in awe of it.

8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents? 

Well I don’t know about crazy. I love to collect vinyl which is sort of common, but I also collect Laserdiscs. You know… They were the medium between VHS tape and DVDs. They are kind of like a DVD in the size and shape of an LP. You even have to flip them. They are just so wrong that they are perfectly right. I have about 500 of them now. I love movies. I’m a big movie buff. I also quite like to cook. I’m a bit of a foodie.

9. What’s your favorite vice? 

Wine. Wine and absinthe… and good beer.

10. How do you make it over the creative hump?

I try another take. Over the years I have gotten to what I feel is a personal look, but I do a number of things. If I get stuck with the traditional B&W silver gel street work, then I move over to the color abstract stuff… if that starts to challenge me, I move on to the hand painted emulsion / alternate photo stuff.

11. If someone was to write a craigslist missed connection about you, what would it say? 

“You: a hairy unkempt possibly unwashed shambling monster pushing an adorable baby in a stroller.  I was about to call child services when I passed you in the park, but didn’t. I fear I maybe should have.”

12. Tell me about the last time a project blew up in your face?

Well nothing really “Blows up” but often things evolve in a way that I wasn’t planning. It can be a real disaster if I’m too stubborn about that, but I give the process enough respect to listen to what the project wants to be. Ultimately I may still be left with a project that I want to get done in the end, but it’s all just a work in progress… both the images and myself.

13. What is your most prized possession?

My family.  Not really a possession, but you get the idea.

 

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.