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: Anthony “weird*eye*one”

AnthonyWeirdEyeOne_HumpDayHotSeatPhoto © Jason Vasquez, Hump Day Hot Seat Alum

1. Who are you?

I’m Anthony “weird*eye*one” and I currently live at the beach in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. I’m originally from Newark & Roselle Park.

2. What do you do?

I’m an artist, muralist, illustrator.. and A street ninja (aka, street artist). For years, I painted my characters & art everywhere I could, and I made small panels with my art on them, then glued them up everywhere, high up on buildings, signs, trees, vans, trucks, wherever. I’m semi-retired from that now, but I still paint my art on walls at abandoned buildings, and I still put up panels every once in awhile too. It’s cool to know that people will put the effort in to collecting those little street panels.

These days, well, the last four years actually, I’ve been putting more focus on my studio work and painting murals, showing my work in galleries and doing commissions for my collectors/fans. Recently my art work has made it to galleries in Australia and Japan for a few upcoming group shows.

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

Oops, I covered some of that in the last answer.. Well anyway, I was always drawing when I was a kid and making stuff. I went to Seton Hall for college, learned some stuff there, managed to keep my own style & vision through it all. Also, for years I filled up tons of sketchbooks, most of which I gave away, either the whole book or just individual pages. I stuck to this one character, which was kinda box shaped, sometimes he would look fun and friendly, and other times he looked downright evil. This character is what I started painting everywhere, on walls, trucks, abandoned buildings, freight trains. Eventually, the characters were joined by abstract patterns and this carried over to my studio work that I showed in galleries.

Now, over the last two years in my murals, I’ve been slowly dropping my famous characters and keeping the abstract patterns, and arranging them in some sort of shape and motion. My studio work has evolved into something different, but I still keep the style & patterns that I’ve always used over the years. It’s just more detailed now and I’m using the negative space more around the main images in my paintings. Another thing most people will notice and have noticed with my work in the galleries is there are the illustrated works that I do and larger abstract “mash-up” paintings, which are smaller versions of my giant murals that I do outside.

4. How long have you been at it?

Since 1999, doing stuff pretty much “under the radar” by staying anonymous whenever I would paint my characters on walls. The little wood panels I was putting up all over the place, I would write my name on them and they were pretty consistent with the art I was putting on walls, so people were starting to make the connection. So, when I started showing my work in group shows and eventually solo shows, I already had a pretty good following that came from my street art. I have taken breaks here and there from my work, and last year I took about 9 months off after Hurricane Sandy because I needed to get my house back in order. It was a good break for me though, probably one I needed at the time.

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

Besides being an artist & a muralist, I’m also a commercial artist too. I paint and design for the home fashion textiles industry, it’s something I do on the side throughout the week. It’s actually pretty fun and it allows me to change things up during the week so I’m not only working on my own art.

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

Too many to mention… Well, I’ll start with the artists whose art work I’m lucky to own.. Alex Pardee (who I’ve actually become friends with. He’s one crazy talented guy, but super down to earth). I also admire Jeff Soto, Sylvia Ji, Nychos The Weird, ROID, Dan Witz, AMUSE, Meres, RIME (aka, Jersey Joe), ASKEW.. and The list goes on.. Oh yea, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo.

 7. What other types of work are you into?

I like everything from graffiti, low brow, surreal to the classics and some sculpture type work. I also like comic book art and some anime.

8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents?

Well, hobbies, I guess photography and no that doesn’t only cover me taking pictures of my murals, haha.. I do on occasion go out and just take pictures of stuff.

Unique talents.. I’m an expert at roasting vegetables, all kinds and somehow they remain firm and crunchy! I make some amazing hummus and falafel from scratch, and probably the hottest salsa on the planet. I use ghost peppers and habaneros!! So yea, it’s pretty hot.

 9. What’s your favorite vice?

I would have to say art is my vice and painting my art on walls. That’s why I’m glad I got some abandoned buildings that are my “secret” spots where I go paint whenever and whatever I feel like painting, plus experimenting with some different ideas and techniques. I like having my secret spots to use when I’m in between the “legal” mural projects I get.. Or else I’m pretty sure I would be doing plenty of illegal painting elsewhere!

I’m also addicted to collecting vinyl toys from Kid Robot and I like all things dark chocolate!!

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

When I hit a “block”, I just relax, maybe do a little sketching. I’ll go do some gallery hopping, look around the internet at other artists, blogs and sometimes wander around Queens or Brooklyn looking at graffiti and street art.

I’m sad that 5 Pointz is gone, that place was so inspiring to me!

Luckily, I’ve been on a roll and full of ideas now for the past 14 months.

11. You eat food? What kind? Like to cook?

Yes, I eat food, haha!! I’m a vegan.. When I’m painting at a wall for an entire day or an entire weekend, I usually have bananas, a container of peanut butter and some granola. Just some easy snacking food to eat when I take short breaks from painting. I do like to cook food, but I suck at baking! My diet is plant based, healthy, yada yada, but I like my junk vegan food like the awesome vegan donuts I get most Sundays from Cinnamon Snail in Red Bank. They’re so good!! I even like to make tofu scrambles with chipotle peppers and seitan.

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

Every single time I’ve tried to bake a cake, haha! For real, I’ve had a few paintings that I was simply not happy with and this happened when I’m about 90% done with them. The re-do ends up being significantly better, way better! However, I can count on just one hand how many times this has happened, so it’s a rare occurrence.

13. What is your most prized possession?

My parents, my sister, her new husband and my niece, so basically my family.

My camera. My two external hard drives that hold photos of every single piece of art and mural I’ve ever created. My Windsor & Newton paint brushes that I’ve had forever.

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.

Monday Funday: The Movement Art Party on 8/10

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Sic Chix Production, the ladies of THE MOVEMENT, are hosting a one-night only, pop up art party on August 10 at Port-O Lounge in Jersey City with music by DJs Carol Gunz and Murph. I’ll be showcasing and selling photographs from my S.S. Coachella 2012 trip featuring musicians like Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Grimes, and Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells.

Featured artists showing works of their own are Quim Cardona, Kris Markovich, and Jai Tanju. All artwork will be available for purchase including those by Angry Tiki God, Kaio Bordes, Jen Calle, Clyde, Dan Delle Donne, Felipe Lara, and Anthony Weirdeyeone. Come party with us, check out cool art, and support local artists. Cheers!

Like us on Facebook or email th3mov3m3nt@gmail.com for more information.

Fresh Friday Finds: Emilio Florentine

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Excursions, Aerosol Paint. ©Emilio Florentine

As his name suggests, Jersey City based mixed media artist Emilio Florentine is inspired by the floral. Reminding me of the classic “he loves me, he loves me not” saying, his work ironically suggests the delicate nature of flowers combined with a hard edge. Like in the aerosol paint piece, “Excursions,” Florentine’s canvas is a large wall on the interior of a building, in “Misty,” a wall outdoors, and in “Nothing to Lose,” he once again brings beauty to a brick wall using aerosol paint in a bright, cheerful palette.

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Misty, Aerosol Paint. ©Emilio Florentine

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Nothing to Lose, Aerosol Paint. ©Emilio Florentine

Florentine also uses colored pencils to showcase the graceful and gentle quality of his inspiration. His work expresses a duality in both it’s composition and in highlighting decomposition at the same time. In “‘Round Midnight,” his fine technique even appears to give the piece a three dimensional vibe.

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‘Round Midnight, Colored Pencil. ©Emilio Florentine

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Straight No Chaser, Colored Pencil. ©Emilio Florentine

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Will O’ the Wisp, Colored Pencil. ©Emilio Florentine

Check out this awesome video of Emilio Florentine at work from Element Tree and Serringe!

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)

Allison Green’s “Everything Changes” at PULSE New York

PULSE New York 2013 opens tomorrow, May 9th at The Metropolitan Pavilion, and runs through the weekend until Sunday, May 12th. For more information and to buy tickets now, visit http://pulse-art.com/new-york/.

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.stART here.‘s Sunday Funday and Hump Day Hot Seat alum Allison Green is one of the featured artists showcasing her newest series, “Everything Changes” with Susan Eley Fine Art at the fair. I will be there to check out what’s new in contemporary art so be on the lookout for more in an upcoming Monday Funday post.

Cheers!

Hump Day Hot Seat: Tara Metzler

Fresh Friday Finds alum Tara Metzler is in today’s Hump Day Hot Seat on .stART here. Get to know this animal rights advocate and artist whose work you can find on pigdogonline.com as she answers some questions provided by Finch & Ada. Thanks for chilling in the Hot Seat, Tara!

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Photo courtesy of Tara Metzler © Megan Khichi Photography

1. Who Are You?

I am a tiny, fun and feisty individual who goes by the name of Tara

2. What do you do?

I do lots of things but my job by day is Graphic Designer and on nights and weekends I like to draw and paint for my side project, Pigdog, amongst many other things.

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

I have always been a creative person or into creative things. Outside of school and work I would always draw little characters that people seemed to love but I had never done anything with them. After rescuing my Pit Bull, Novia, and having multiple bad jobs I decided to go for it and started Pigdog (named after said Pit Bull). It’s basically a portfolio of my artwork with the option to purchase. A percentage of all sales go to a local animal organization. I never wanted to have your typical 9 to 5 job forever and although I still have one, I am now pursuing something that I have always loved to do with a cause that I am passionate about…helping homeless animals and animal rights. I really need to thank my family, friends, and boyfriend for supporting me and pushing me to do what I love.

4. How long have you been at it?

Pigdog has been a thought in my head for quite some time but did not officially start until 2007 when I did my first Hoboken Art & Music Fest. There have been a lot of bumps in the road and lessons learned since then but I am happy to say that I stuck to it.

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

I am a lover of all animals and will kick your ass if you hurt them.

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

I admire anyone that has the drive and passion to do what they love rather than settling.

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

I love art done by children. Illustrator Dave DeVries did a book called The Monster Engine. He took children’s illustrations and painted them. It’s absolutely fantastic! I am also a big fan of photography, Edward Gorey, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I like gritty, dark and cute. I am not drawn to perfection.

8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents?

I have lots of hobbies but, no, none that I would call crazy.

9. What’s your favorite vice?

Macaroni and cheese. If you know of any great recipes or restaurants that have it on the menu email me. 🙂

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

Wine…just kidding…sort of. I can’t say I have ever been on a creative hump when it comes to my personal stuff. My brain is always in fast forward and coming up with whacky ideas. I write those ideas down and come back to them when I have the time and am ready to move onto the next project. The problem is there is never enough time to get to all of those ideas. Maybe my creative hump is my full time job?

11. You eat food? What kind? Like to cook?

Of course I eat food!!! Indian food, by far, is my favorite. My mouth waters any time I go into an Indian restaurant. I absolutely love to cook but hate to clean up the mess afterwards. It’s an ongoing battle.

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

Blonde haired girl with large sunglasses driving a very dirty Nissan Versa, I saw you sitting in traffic on the GSP completely oblivious to my honking.

13. What is your most prized possession?

I would say my dog, Stella, but it doesn’t sound right calling her a possession. I have many little sentimental things that I have held onto over the years but I would have to say a teddy bear my great Uncle gave me for my seventh birthday is my most prized possession.

Don’t miss Tara and her pit bull, Stella, at the Annual Hoboken Arts & Music Fest on May 5th where she’ll be selling her original artwork, prints, NEW! Pigdog branded notepads and more.