Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2015


Backflash... Lately, I've been thinking about all the shows I've gotten to see over the years. Mostly because I'm trying to go see a photography show in the next week. If you know me pretty well then you know I've loved art, design, & music for a long time; Graffiti, Photography, Paintings, Sculpture, Tattoo and more. I used to hit up a lot of shows in my downtime which is hard now that I write, photograph and work a day job. With the poaching of my photo clientele/friends I haven't shot much but after wrapping up of a new book of stories and a new series of dresses sketched/painted/sculpted I now have time to adventure again. Yes I'm publishing another short ebook soon! I will tell you more in a later post! 

Here's a couple of shows I was able to see a few years back...


Kisses, m.

Where oh where? 

Where oh where could I find myself this week?

Sunday mornings are typically for brunches and discussion. After the morning chitter-chatter of Saturday Night’s events you’ll find yourself running into a person or two from the previous engagement between heading to meet up with the remaining usual characters for some mandatory window shopping before you finally end up visiting the family. However, this Sunday I found myself trekking down the state toward the lovely Los Angeles skyline to see… what else? Art. 

Two galleries in a matter of hours…

Art in the Streets. 

Graffiti in the Streets Gallery. LA. 2011.
Where can you find Keith Haring, Retna, Lee Quinones, Spike Jonze, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, in one place? At the MOCA. Primarily at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Los Angeles’s version of the Modern Art museum is currently housing an exhibition that pays tribute for the rise of graffiti as an art form. This exhibition began its run April 17th and will continue until August 8th. I was informed that this is the first major historical exhibit encompassing street art and graffiti to be held in an American Museum. The focus here is on the origins of the style and how it has changed, evolved and merged with other cultures across the world over the course of time.

The exhibit is astounding and quite breathtaking to any admirer of the art in the street. Not only does the art demonstrate its significance in trends it shows how it has united itself in music, film, television, dance and culture. The overall exhibit remains a bit traditional in the sense of a museum. There are two floors that allow you to take in both the sheer scope of work on a ground level and an above deck level. Beneath the roof there are mock-ups from artists across the globe that chronicles the early beginnings of street art to the where it is now. Amid the visual encompassment of the street art you find yourself among film screenings, lectures, artist discussions related to the main event. 

Upon entrance you find yourself looking directly at two vehicles covered from hood to trunk in painted paraphernalia. They lay straight in the middle of the exhibit. Along corridors you have paintings, sketches, and murals telling the story of their world. There is more to the look by the art of the street and there is so much more to be told from it. The significant story that can be seen by these varying styles is UNITY. Rarely do we see a united cause across any culture except in art. 

Among the maze of rooms and hallways you find yourself immersed in sound as well as visual cues. Along a hallway a bank of mirrors are lined up with sprayed on messages. Upstairs photographic essays tell the tales of the earlier days of streets art. As art goers make their way through the maze of street arts best and brightest they are welcomed to a visual buffet. Some portions are complete homage to the street scene including alley ways, shop windows with complete interiors and replicas of vandals in action standing upon cars and ducking beneath trees. You can turn a corner to find yourself in a dark alley tagged complete with false front buildings, sleeping homeless man and flickering lights. Several artists came together to create scenes that are spread throughout the gallery. 
Banksy. LA. 2011.

One might ask of the draw or appeal to visit such an exhibition. For me it was simple, I’ve been a strong admirer of street art and graffiti for nearly a decade. Upon hearing that Banksy was a part of this exhibition it became clear that I must attend. Personally I’ve never come face to face with his work and had always wanted to. After missing a gallery in the UK two years ago I’d always pressed that I might someday make the endeavor to see his work in some capacity. The MOCA showing gave me the opportunity to do so. 

For others it almost seems educational if not mandatory that they visit a museum. Our perception of art is based in the knowledge that we have already created everything by traditional means and that is that. This idea seems restrictive. To embrace the beginnings of something new and undisciplined to our mind is to encourage our creative capacity to grow. It might seem biased to say that people neglect to realize how influenced our culture is by something such as graffiti. But they do. It is through our understanding of new art forms that will allow us to grow culturally as a combined people. 

If it’s not your cup of tea to look at the influence of street art on our culture, I encourage you to at least step into a museum to understand the origins of art. Art affects politics, music, dance, television, film and life in more ways than seem relevant to mention. Art is a reflection of the times we live in. 

Life is Not a Fairytale. 

Where can you enjoy a glass of Unicorn tears, play ping pong ala Man Who Fell to Earth with a spaceman, and get a glitter kiss blown to you from a girl trapped across the void of the photographic frame? At the gallery of celebrity photographer Tyler Shields.

Quite frankly, life isn’t a fairytale. And this is the last place you should expect to find one. But don't be surprised if you find so much more than that. 

Life is Not a Fairytale. Tyler Shields. LA. 2011.
The man behind the camera has garnered a reputation for the eccentric with his avant-garde work that borrows influence substantially from pop culture. Much like Willy Wonka opening the gates to his factory, Shields opened the doors on his work and made it public for one day, May 8th minus the need for golden tickets. And much to my own admission I was intrigued and equally excited when the announcement for a public gallery came up as I’ve been an admirer of Shields work for a few years now.

Like many photographers and artists, [among my favorites Avedon, Warhol, LaChapelle] the need to see the work up close is very necessary. You can visit the artist’s website at anytime, but to be honest that never comes close to what it’s like to look at the photography in person. However on this particular instance it happened to be more than simply photography on display. Videos, artwork, a bit of performance art, and a blood creation comprised the gallery. 

Entrance is greeted by a spaceman dancing through street along with his own space theme. Once inside you’re looking to the left at a cow in a stall mooing with words EAT ME painted on. Standing next door in another stall is a pile of bright yellow barrels painted with toxic waste symbols. Look head on and lift your eyes to find yourself staring at a giant teddy bear hanging and holding a whip while three lovely masked nudes look down from the wall. The sheer scope and size of the photograph murals are jaw dropping in person. Among the smaller pieces there are a dozen or more large mural sized pieces that fully grab your attention. And of course free with entry limited edition poster prints are handed out like a door prize that you might receive at the Fillmore West after a concert. An idea that is indeed very rockstar as opposed to photographer which speaks for itself.

The Blood Painting. Tyler Shields. LA. 2011.

Move a little more into the scene and you’re greeted by the Pièce de résistance: The Blood Painting. I’ve mentally realized that its a tribute to the artist' friends while watching the “making of” video. It’s truly a love letter to those who donated as it could not be created without their gift of blood. The donators look a bit squeamish as they are drained for art in the video but the piece is given life through their small sacrifice. Although I’m uncertain of the artist’s plans for the piece, it would be nice to see its proceeds go towards a charitable cause.

Should you find yourself thirsty while visiting the factory there are water dispensers complete with bottles of refreshments. One contains Unicorn tears and the other Vampire tears. Have a drink? Pick your poison. Although I doubt either is poison.

As you find yourself winding around the mayhem of imagery there is a ping pong table along with spaceman playing, a room of videos streaming and music that seems as though it never stops. The artist’s taste in music is demonstrated in his video portraits, which on display they run silently with the eeriness of an old film against a metallic wall. The videos are predominantly unreleased material weaved with the usual suspects. Anyone thinking they’ve seen it all. Think again. When you almost want it to end the reel keeps going. I spent in excess of 25 minutes waiting for it to restart. It did not. 

Shields photography is a cohesive collection that is uniformly spread in large across two rooms at the gallery. There are mostly individual pieces on display. The “never before seen” imagery rests alongside the general standards that Shields belts out on his website regularly. However there are a few collections that fit together nicely. Aside from the B/W masked nudes one includes a bizarre Batman, Superman, Catwoman threesome that looks like fun for some on a Saturday night. Another includes a vampire Lindsay Lohan complete with victim and fellow vampire Michael Trevino hanging on the wall above a red lined wooden coffin. Among the pieces that stand out for myself… Zachary Quinto being dragged through the dirt, Lyndsy Fonseca dancing amid a wind farm, the trio of B/W masked ladies (large), Stop Wasting Time (large) and of course Life is Not a Fairytale (large)…  just to name a few.

Overall Shields has created a world that steps beyond the ordinary in his first public gallery. None of which could be possible without the hard work the artist dedicates and the commitment of the people in his photos. A few pieces ask you to entertain the notion that the images can reach out and pull you in. And for the moment you do. You let them tell you their story while you stand in awe. One of my favorite quotes of Shields, “your imagination can only run wild if you let it” and in this instance I think that’s exactly what the artist has done to the best end result.

As an artist slash photographer Shields has definitely made his own mark in the visual world and will now continue to push the envelope with work in television and film. It will be impressive to see what comes next from Tyler Shields. 

My advice? Next time you find the factory open without a golden ticket, go and see for yourself. It won’t be a waste of time. And as long as you aren’t expecting to find a fairytale there you won’t be disappointed.

Needless to say LA was lovely and Sunday was a fun-fun day, in a manner of speaking. My eyebrows are raised thinking… Where oh where will I be next?



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Homeless for the Holidays

Homeless for the Holidays. Can you imagine it? I could and I couldn't. Two weeks ago an old friend of mine posted a pic and a story to his Instagram. It was an image of a homeless person in Skid Row Los Angeles wishing for that Merry Christmas that we all so desperately ache for. The image was simply so touching because it captured the meaning of christmas for him and all things he was grateful for in his life: his girlfriend, his family & friends,  his job, being able to eat and so on. The sentiment may have been lost on someone but it wasn't lost on me. It truly is one of my favorite images and combined with his words truly captures what is most important during the Holidays. 

Kisses, m

© Brett Thomas

"I pass by skid row everyday on my way to work. It is a little out of the way, but I do this partially because I like to remind myself of how lucky and thankful I am for what I have in my life (roof over my head, food In my stomach, & good health) and who I have in my life (my girlfriend, my family, & my friends). I have seen this lady the last couple weeks (with this Xmas tree in her thoughts) and she has reminded me of what the holidays are really about, helping people in need. Instead of wasting our money buying Xmas gifts for people that don't NEED anything, go out and give something to someone who does. It doesn't matter how big or small, the smallest effort can go a long way." - Brett Thomas

Image and Words by: Brett Thomas

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


White Lines

(Ooh White Lines) Vision dreams of passion 
(Blowin’ through my mind)

Walking the line.  2012.


Arrogance isn’t a pretty shade of lipstick. Take it off.” This is what he says to me. So I’m taking it off. I’ve excused myself to the bathroom and actually wiping this color off along with my attitude.

He’s been here for ten minutes I can’t tell what he wants exactly, but he always wants something. It’s never that deep.

While he flips through a copy of Italian Vogue he becomes a bit nostalgic and is telling me about his trip to Italy if you can call twenty-four hours of binge drinking, drugs and anonymous whores a trip. Anyway he says that there’s this mosque that I have to see… “Oh but Jemma, it’s best if you do a line first.”

This morning I woke up promptly at 7:15 am to the sounds of Spandau Ballet dancing in my head before the alarm went off. Of course it’s early… Fred said to be ready to jump into character by 11:15 am. That’s the time for my callback. It’s some flat around the corner on the fourth floor at a leased out building. Of all places, it’s probably the nicest meeting I’ve taken in a while. 

And I’ve spent this morning listening to 80s music for my 80s book. This is me calling it ‘getting into character’ when it's not really like that at all. But what else is it like? It’s all for this 80s script that my agent sent over in a flash three weeks ago along with the book. A book I haven’t read until now. I know enough dialogue to pose for the audition, but the director saw my tape and wants to meet me. I’m completely wrong for the part, but they keep telling me otherwise. Tell me how does a pasty brunette play a sun-tanned blonde? So I keep telling myself that the book is better at identifying motivation than the script. Through reading it I will understand the how’s and why’s of this person and looking in the mirror means nothing about becoming her. This is how I get into character.

Why do they make movies about books? Because people are too lazy, of course I mean too busy, to read. It’s like a public service for those who aren’t able to find the time to read.

As I wipe off the lipstick and reach into the medicine cabinet to get his coke I decide that I’m dumping it down the drain. Down, down, down while the water runs. I hum a line of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire while stopping to fix my eyes. He can wait. If this is why he really came, then there’s no reason to come back again.

“So what are you doing here?” I ask him while re-emerging with a smile.

“Jemma, you look really good, have you gotten some sun?” Always changing the subject. And of course back to where we started.

It is always an awkward conversation between awkward people who haven’t seen each other in six months. He’s thinking that I’m thinking we’re still sleeping together. I slept alone last night.

It all started when he came in. The moment when I answered the door and almost didn’t let him in. Hello’s that are forced out with an imaginary gun to the back of your head. Hugs that might feel less uncomfortable if it were a stranger. Then there’s a pause. That kind you make only for the Witnesses handing out flyers. You never let them in. No matter what. But I let him in. Smiling and laughing a cracked out grin that smells of tequila and gin at 10am with his awkward greeting.

It’s not that his story about Italian mosques wasn’t fascinating. But I find it necessary to try cutting through the red tape of the last fifteen minutes and get to the point before he starts telling me about the viewing of street art in Paris subways during the middle of April.
“Adrian to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
 “What?” He looks at me with irritation.
“Darling what do you want?”
“My gram.”
“It’s been six months… it’s gone.” Is he hard up? No one carries anything like that. He couldn’t have possibly come for a gram let alone remembered he left it.
“Wow Jemma, that script looks massive. Big part? Little part?” The sidestep to avoid.
“It’s a part.”

And he stops to look around before telling me about driving on Sunset last night. Telling me that there’s a faded line in the middle of the lane that causes him to feel like he has to make a choice. I tell him that’s not Sunset and that he should have just switched lanes. It sounds more like there’s another story I haven’t heard. I stop to wonder how Adrian has a car. But he interrupts me before that becomes an inquiry.

“Jemma, can I? He waves his hands up at me while pointing towards the sink.

 I nod and he heads into the newly painted kitchenette. His voice raises slightly as he rolls up the sleeves on his button-down brilliance before starting to wash his hands. “Don’t worry about the gram I have more. You don’t need? Cause I can…” With a flick of the wrist and the perfect timed punch line of a comedian he produces a small object.

“That’s quite alright Adrian.” Away it goes. Poof. Thin air.

The whole time he’s watching me try to cover my pages and hide the book. Washing and washing longer than is humanly necessary he asks me to tell him about the script and my basis for portrayal. I know he doesn’t care, but I start talking.

It isn’t long before I realized I’ve given him too much and it sounds like bragging. I wasn’t but it doesn’t matter. It’s enough.

Arrogance isn’t a pretty shade of lipstick. Even on you Jemma. Take it off.

This is where we are now.

Lines are like the things that people might say or do only they don’t but you might understand why they might say or do them.

On page 26 my character is having an existential crisis. “Who am I?” she cries in the middle of it all. Between the black characters in front of the white background she can not find herself. Today I know who I am. Arrogant and wearing the wrong shade of lipstick. At least I know it’s not me and that it’s really the bleach blonde tanned bimbo trying to find herself in between the pages while listening to really bad music.

“Have you seen Alex?”
“Alex? Isn’t he up in San Francisco? You must see him more than me.”
“No. He’s here in town. We’re supposed to catch up. I just thought…”
“Adrian. How long have you been here?”
“15 minutes.”
“It’s been more like 25, but I meant in town. How long?”
“I don’t know. How long have you been a superficial stuck-up starlet faking tans with lines to read?” He smiles and laughs. This is the part where I’m supposed to have a sense of humor and smile.  But I just can’t today.

I put my hands through my hair with a feeling of overwhelming frustration. There’s got to be a point to his damage, I just can’t figure it out. I think I’m going to be late and there are still 15 pages left.  I want to get angry and scream at him when he does this. I want to scream aloud and tell him that I may be a superficial starlet but at least I’m really being me. I want to scream and tell him that he’s a poor man’s shadow, excuse for someone who used to be real, someone who is faking their way through everything. But I don’t. Cause I wouldn’t mean it.

“You don’t mind?” He looks at me with his eyes bugged out and waves a pocket mirror. Adrian is always prepared in a crisis. I wonder what he’d do in the event of a water landing. Take it chilled or on the rocks?

I just shake my head. He knows I don’t care. And I’m supposed to be the arrogant one.

He does lines, like I learn them. With the exception that sometimes his escapades land him in the bath room of a cherry colored bar doing lines of blow off a naked stripper’s bare breasts whereas my performance might land me a part in the next big picture from the next big hot-shot director.

 “Let’s do lines together!” He announces. To this I can smile and giggle.

He does a line. I read a line. He does a line. I read a line. Then another. And another. Until I decide… “I can’t do this.”

“Come on, Jemma. What’s wrong? Want something? It’ll make you feel better. Loosen you up.”
“I’m good. I just can’t. Not now. I have to go to this callback and I think I’m going to be late.”
“Cattle callback?”
I laugh and tell him, “Why yes, with other superficial stuck-up starlets whose teeth and mouths are too wide.”
”Why? What? When?”
“In like 20 minutes.”
“Oh fuck. Let me call the driver. I can have you there in 10.”
“It’s only just around the corner. You can come if you want.”

Adrian is too pretentious sometimes. All morning he’s been riding around in a town car with a driver called Chaz calling it a stretch. The driver barely speaks English and prefers to call us for directions instead of talking or turning around. Adrian has already taken out his mirror to offer the driver a line after telling him about it on the phone. I’m more surprised when the guy doesn’t take it. I keep reading lines. I must look pissed. He won’t make eye contact and now he’s taking out that small object again. Shit. We’re going to pass the place. I’m getting out even though the car is still moving.

On page 27 my character has a breakthrough moment. A door opens and she walks through it. This is the scene the director wants me to read. I keep thinking back to Spandau Ballet and how the only reason this is a movie is because someone wrote a book. Playing my part as a public servant. Helping make the population literate.

This is ‘The Director’ a million girls want to work with and will accommodate in anyway. I should have done the line. But I didn’t. I understand why I said no and may have wanted to. ‘The Director’ likes my face. He told my agent this. This man that a million girls want to work with likes my face. I want him to like my acting. Take me seriously for this part. Because this is why I’m here. Instead my face got me here.

All of this is me ‘getting into character’ while I’m trying to remember my lines. Remembering those things that I might say or do only don’t so that they might understand why they are said or done.

We’re in a stretch. Although it isn’t. This is what they call a stretch in the city; here it’s a town car. It’s almost 11:00 and the driver keeps calling my cell for directions.  I’ve made this arrangement with the driver and offered him something for the road.  He declines. Jemma looks pissed, but I can’t help that she’s in a bad mood today. I offered her some candy. It’s too bad she doesn’t want to play. She’s so much more fun when she falls in the water. Maybe she will after this cattle audition for mindless blonde bimbos with superficial tans and weekend Daddy’s to pay their bills. Jemma is too good for this. I wonder if she still thinks we are sleeping together. I’m thinking of taking another hit as she opens the door. The stretch hasn’t quite stopped. This is what I’m thinking… I’m going to call Alex again.