Thursday, April 29, 2010

casino versus japan: "local forecast/go hawaii" (medley)

"Casino vs Japan makes some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. It is almost a euphoric listening experience. Definitely a must for any fan of beautiful electronic music."

Above is a quote from a fan from CVJ's Discogs page, and I could not agree more. Featured here is an actual fan-made video medley of two tracks from Casino Versus Japan's critically acclaimed 2000 release "Go Hawaii". Sometimes I cringe when I see fan-made videos that completely miss the mark when merged with a good track or song, but this one pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as visually capturing the feel of the music. My favorite part is the smooth video and audio transition at about 3:22 into the medley. The imagery, which looks like some various stock footage about Hawaii, could have been horribly tacky, but instead, everything was artfully meshed together and the pacing is perfect. I've been a big fan of CVJ's (real name Eric Kowolski) music for nearly as long as he has taken to release another album. Finally, after an eight year hiatus, Mr. Kowalski is back, with a double LP featuring rare and unreleased tracks entitled Night On Tape (Attacknine). There is also word of some brand new material to be released this year as well from CVJ, as he's been playing some live shows in recent months. In the meantime, a decent pair of headphones is highly recommended for this one.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

artist spotlight: sara broski

Every so often I'll see an artist's work that stands out and makes me do a double take. Such is the case with Pennsylvania artist Sara Broski, whose subtle, understated pieces immediately caught my attention while browsing through Flickr. After a year or so of follwing Sara's art, I finally found the opportunity to interview her about her clever, charming work. Enjoy!

1. Q: Where'd you go to college, if any, for your art?

A: I went to Syracuse University to study fine arts for a year. I came back home and went to a local college and took up Mass Communications focusing on graphics and web design for the next three years. This wasn't exactly where I wanted to be at the time but due to circumstances at the time and practicality, I ended up doing web art instead of fine art.

2. Q: What part of Pennsylvania do you live in? What's one thing you love about PA?

A: I live in northeastern Pennsylvania near the Poconos/Scranton. I love the changing seasons here. There's something to love about each one, and it's really beautiful in the fall.

3. Q: Animals seem to be a great source of inspiration in your work. Why animals?

A: I've always loved animals in real life and as a subject matter. I think that this is because they vary greatly and have the ability to be little characters that I can play with.

4. Q: You employ a strong, refined, almost minimalist sense of space in your art. Can you pinpoint a reason for this?

A: After taking a few years off from art, I decided that I wanted to focus on one piece of a painting and not have to worry much or at all about things that seemed too much like work to me like backgrounds. This is why my backgrounds are always minimal or absent. It's served me well and become a signature characteristic of each painting.

5. Q: Wordplay plays an important, even humorous role in your work. How and when did you start thinking about these things with regards to your art?

A: It happened accidentally and I stuck with it. I usually start with a title and go from there. Also, I love subtlety - someone possibly not fully understanding one of my paintings until they see the title. I want the person who sees it to 'get it', and have a brief moment of amusement or enjoyment.

6. Q: Your style has a very delicate, almost calming quality. How did this style evolve?

A: I never actually thought of my paintings like that so I'm not quite sure. I think it's just a part of my personality that comes through in what I produce. I've always had a huge preference for working on small scales, with small brushes, fine points, detail, etc.

7. Q: What would you consider an ideal situation for getting into a creative mindset and producing a piece?

A: When I want to start something new, I usually brainstorm as I'm driving. It's one of the only places where I can come up with ideas because there's nothing else that you can do while driving besides think, talk, listen, or zone out. I think of words, phrases, and subjects until something excites me. If I'm not excited about something, it's going to feel like work and I won't feel creative at all.

8. Q: The small scale in your work seems to emphasize the importance of your subject matter even more so than if it was large. Is there a preference or particular reason for working small rather than large?

A: I've never managed to successfully work larger scale despite many art teachers throughout the years telling me that I should. It's just not me. I'm small, I have a preference for small things and keeping myself in focus. I think that staying true to yourself and your preferences has a tendency to work out on it's own. My subjects are never meant to be in your face. They are meant to be little and interesting enough on their own.

9. Q: I see some embroidered pieces popping up at your Etsy shop and on your Flicker stream. Is this a newer endeavor? What got you into Embroidery?

A: This is a NEWER endeavor but not the newest. I get bored at the drop of a hat. A few months ago I started obsessively making embroidered pieces even though I never embroidered a thing in my life. It's appealing because so many materials can be combined to make a one of a kind piece. One day I just stopped embroidering and haven't since. There are many finished or mostly finished embroidered pieces laying around my apartment.

I've been dabbling in metal and resin jewelry more recently. I'm thinking about opening up another Etsy shop once I feel my pieces are purchase worthy - that is, if it lasts until then! I still paint off and on though. My prints have served me well and proved that I can actually sell things that I do - a concept that I never really believed until proven otherwise.

10. Q: What are some of your plans for your work in the near future? Any shows or sales on the horizon?

A: My plans for my prints are the same as they've been. I'm going to keep painting and stay open to opportunities that come up rather than seeking them out. I'm still trying to figure out how I can make art an independent sustainable income without working for someone else, and what I'd like to pursue full time to get there. I'm not sure that it's prints but I'm going to stay loyal to them while I continue to actively throw myself in directions until something really works.

You can find more of Sara's work at her Flickr stream, and purchase it as well at her Etsy shop!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

from the archives ("crab kid, maracas beach")

Here's another beach shot, this time from Trinidad. Back in 2007 I had visited my wife for the first time. I had not traveled by plane in decades (only one other time in my life) and the only other time I had been to another country was on numerous visits to Canada, in my youth. Needless to say, I was stressed to the bone, and the first time I finally began to relax a little was when we visited beautiful Maracas Beach. I don't consider myself much of a beach-comber, but I like to visit one every now and then. I will say that I've never seen or been to one this beautiful in my life, and it was quiet and peaceful, surprisingly. The one slight disturbance (if you want to call it that) was a boy who was walking around selling crabs. He didn't speak to anyone - he simply would stand nearby a while, then move on. I was told that this was how some of the locals on the beach made a living. The crabs were live, and I have to admit, they freaked me out somewhat, being so close to me as I tried to lay there and relax. Luckily I got a couple of shots, including this one. The man in the background, to the right added a whole new element to this photo, and I thought he looked kind of shifty, as if he wasn't supposed to be there or something.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

i started a new blog

As if I need to spend any more time online. Truth is, this new blog is dedicated to less time spent at the computer and to more time spent at the table exercising/exorcising those creative juices. To see what the blue blob thing above has become, check it out HERE.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

wagon christ: "shadows"

When I first began blogging, I used to post up an occasional music video that I liked. For a while I even had a sidebar feature I called "music video greats" but kept having problems with that feature. So, I thought I'd bring back the vids as part of a weekly post, with a little background info for good measure.

The first music video is an original animated piece, and one of my all time favorites to view and listen to. It's a track entitled "Shadows", by Wagon Christ (aka Luke Vibert). Many times I find videos aren't necessary as far as accompanying music, and in many cases, detract from the actual track or song. This is not the case here, and unlike a lot of animated/cartoon-based music vids, this was crafted specifically for "Shadows". Vibert, who came up alongside some of the prominent British electronic music artists from the nineties, including Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) and Mike Paradinas (Mu-ziq) took a more laid-back, downtempo, even humorous approach to his production style. Analog synths, hip-hop beats and curious, kitschy samples from old records are all staples of Vibert's style. "Shadows" is a sunny, breezy Springtime tune from the 2004 Wagon Christ LP "Sorry I Make You Lush" (Ninja Tune).

Monday, April 19, 2010

from the archives ("gray sky morning, buckroe beach")

A couple of July fourth's ago, Kris and I were invited out to Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia to attend a cookout and watch a fireworks display. I had never been to, or even heard of this beach before, though it was not too far from the more popular Virginia Beach. For a good portion of our stay, the weather was somewhat cool and overcast. On our final day there, I remember getting up earlier than everyone else, still being on my internal teacher clock, and going out for a post-July fourth beach walk. While most people probably prefer fun and sun when they visit the beach, I find days like this far more appealing. I'm glad I had brought my little camera along for the walk, and the photos I took recall the quiet rhythm of the waves rolling in and out, peppered by the occasional, yet consistent sound of seagulls. After the bombastic spectacle from the previous evening's festivities, it was good to find some peace and quiet and space to think.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

four collages in andrea's a4

Here are some collages created from small prints of various works of mine that didn't turn out as well as I would have liked. I made these in Andrea's book for our Moleskine Exchange. Instead of throwing them out, I made more art.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

from the archives ("word to your mother")

Here at the ol' bloggety-blog, I think I'll start posting random photos - possibly one a week, culled from my Flickr stream -photos that I find interesting, strange, or in this case, oddly hilarious. I took this shot early one morning when myself and a bunch of fellow art teacher colleagues were on a field trip in late August, 2008. While waiting to get into the National Portrait Gallery in DC, someone noticed this post-it-note with what appeared to be a poem. The last sentence was the icing on the cake, and I can only imagine some young wannabe slam poet furiously scrawling these words down, hunched over with furled brow, chasing each brilliant word with his mighty ball-point. Ironically, there were several exhibits focusing on hip-hop culture at the Gallery that month. Anyhow, I must confess there was a brief period in my younger life when I wrote poems of this sort - some having potential, while others were downright embarrassing. I have to admit though, I've never written anything quite as profound as this one (tongue-in-cheek).

Monday, April 12, 2010

cherry blossoms everywhere

I love Spring. There's always a sense of renewal and optimism that comes with this time of year. Unfortunately, it wreaks pure havoc on my allergies, as many people can relate to out here. When Kris first met me, she always wondered why the heck us Americans would always make such a fuss about the weather. Coming from a climate that is fairly consistent all year 'round, and then experiencing one of the worst winters in VA recorded history, she now understands this American obsession with the weather. Recently we were invited out for a brief drive to Bethesda, Maryland to witness the local cherry blossom trees in full bloom. In the nearly five years I've been blogging, I don't think I've ever posted once about this, surprisingly. On the same token, I've only been out to the DC area a couple of times in April due to the insane crowds these trees attract. The trees were a gift of peace from Japan many years ago, and usually bloom for about two weeks in mid-April. This year the blossoms arrived early, possibly due to all the precipitation we got last winter. Whatever the case, It's nice to know that we could witness this spectacle of nature firsthand while still avoiding the DC craziness. I'll be posting more of these pics on my Flickr stream as well, hopefully.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

new wildlife art prints from artscow

Today I got four new, beautifully made art prints from a company called Artscow. My wife told me about a deal they had recently, so I thought I'd give it a go and see what they were all about. My expectations were low-to-average, however, I'm happy to say the results were far from it! The quality of paper, the crisp image, the vivid color - I was even more pleased than with Imagekind, which says a lot. Anyhow, I will be putting these all up for sale at my Etsy shop this week. The giant tortoise is the first to go up! The prints are all 14" x 11" and will be in a limited run of twenty, signed and numbered by yours truly. Twenty-five bucks per print is a fair enough price, considering the cost of getting them made, mailing them, as well as the time and labor involved. So, stay tuned for more this week. I'll definitely be selling prints of this kind showcasing my "Fashion Victim" series very soon as well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

scenes from the leesburg animal park

Yesterday Kris and I celebrated the gorgeous weather by visiting the Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Unfortunately, the giant tortoises were still in Florida until the weather warms up more (they're expected to return in May). Still, it was well worth the visit and the price of admission, and to our pleasant surprise Wednesday is discount day on admission. While there were quite a few animals I didn't take photos of, I found myself really fascinated by the chickens, of all things! The highlight was the gibbon couple, who were a study in contrasts - the male being somewhat reserved and neurotic while the female was a real free spirit, swinging around and showing off like a champ. While I'd love to see some of these animals with a little more space (though quite a few of them where almost completely free) , they appear to be very well taken care of. I highly recommend dropping by if you're in the area.