What a refreshing experience to hang out with my friend Ray last weekend. They brought me up to The Cape, Ray’s native turf. The comfort with which Ray shapeshifts is always astounding to me. Their androgynous body lends itself to assuming either extreme of the sexes, or just down the middle where Ray likes to play. Heads turned and alot of people complimented their look, but then again, it was Provincetown. How gender non-binary people fare in “real” life might be another story. Or is it? Recently another friend of mine came back from North Carolina where he had an acting gig for a few weeks. He remarked on how many ambiguous people he came across down there, and what’s more interesting, he said they were just part of the fabric in the community. Kinda remarkable for the South, I think. Are things changing? The media seems to be awash with proponents from both sides. I’ll keep on wearing my boots and dresses because that’s how I am comfortable, at least for today. Who knows about tomorrow…
Last week I went to Provincetown for the first time. Ironically, I landed in the middle of "Circuit Week" and left on the first day of "Bear Week". Accustomed to the bear crowd as I am, I felt a bit like an anthropologist studying the behavior of a foreign species. Local inhabitants aside, I did enjoy all that this legendary bastion of gay life had to offer. From beautiful scenery to gender-bending muscle queens to drag queen all-stars — my visit to P-Town is not one I will soon forget. Below are just a few shots of my short time there.
Have you been to Provincetown? When did you go and what was your experience like?
One of my favorite developments, as the patriarchy slowly crumbles under the weight of its own toxic masculinity, has been the mainstreaming of makeup for men. Reams have been written about the growth of the men’s cosmetics market. Think pieces abound about men’s use of products like concealer and foundation to project youthfulness in an increasingly competitive and youth-obsessed job market. That’s great — Seriously. But what I’m really here for, tbh, is beauty boys. The past few years have seen the proliferation of beautiful boys (like James Charles, Manny Gutierrez, and Bretman Rock) all over social media rocking the fuck out of some makeup. Not the utilitarian use of cosmetics to correct perceived imperfections; but, the painting of a face in such a way to project a mood, a character, an emotion. The idea that I have available to me another set of tools with which to express myself is kind of revolutionary to me.
Happy 4-20! Recently, a friend of mine from San Francisco visited armed with a variety THC infused consumables. Those from Wisconsin bring cheese, New Yorkers bring bagels, Californians (even the transplants apparently), bring cannabis. The legalization of marijuana in different states in the union has has had a wide effect on distribution, available potency, and, perhaps, not so obviously, branding.
Indeed, like it’s more accepted cousins in viceland, tabacco and alcohol, cannabis being designed and packaged in this country in an effort to appeal not only to your dopamine receptors, but also your aesthetics and brand loyalty. A multi-million dollar industry is on the rise and as that number gets higher, so might you. With big business at stake, companies are putting more thought into how their product is packaged and presented. Move over nickel bag, something sexier has hit the streets!
Nimbus Edibles utilizes original artwork on their packages customized to match the particular effect intended by the product. This package above contains edibles designed to promote "relaxation, healing and well being". On the outside you get a line drawing of someone with an ethereal fantasy popping out of his (her?) head, and above you have a honey comb pattern with other beings (heads only) floating in the sky. What is also interesting about Nimbus is that the brand credits the artists featured on the package in print. You can now aspire to have your art featured on a really nice bag of (edible) weed!
Kin Slips cannabis infused slips come sleekly packaged in a tiny dark blue box embossed with the imprints of leaves of all shapes and sizes. The typography and paper selection make this package of melting cannabinoid strips feel very apothecary-like, luxe, and designed for the on-the-go cannabis consumer who might feel right at home at Urban Outfitters.
Foria Weed lube utilizes elegant packaging that speaks to the natural aphrodisiac nature of cannabinoid products. Sophisticated and restrained, the package appeals to a refined user who appreciates a fine wine, a fine cigar, and a fine lubricant that will get them high and at the same time appeal to their visual sensibilities. KY has never been so high.
Finally, the ultra modern and sleek package of the Dosist brand dose pens brings to mind the minimal packaging of the “Help” brand remedies, as well as the clean pharma packaging that is so well-satired in the work of Damian Hirst. It is a clean, ultra-designed brand that utilizes a lot of white space, a system of color coding, and a san serif font that espouses a cold air that only medical products can provide. Stoned never looked so Swiss.
Does the new wave of packaging in the bourgeoning cannabis market appeal to you? Are you more inclined to sample some if you haven't already? Leave your comments below!
The family portrait that is used as the promotional image for "The Royal Tenenbaums" has always been a favorite of mine. Each character, with the exception of Royal himself, gazes at the viewer with an insouciant demeanor that is less-than-inviting, to say the least. This coupled against the soft pink background that frames the image really speaks to the tone shifts that are integral to the film's character.
"I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum" is a quote from the film. Spoken by Eli Cash, the words echoed my own sentiments about the family of geniuses. And while each member had their individual winning traits (athleticism, business acumen, writing ability), if I had to choose I would be Margot for sure, an artist whose solemn existence is fill with mystery and pathos wrapped in a brilliant package of a fur coat.
Who is your favorite Tenenbaum and why? Respond in the comments below.
For more process photos of my work, be sure to view my Instagram Story on the regular.
Last week I attended “In-Spire: Leigh Bowery”, a fundraising event hosted by The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in honor of the late Australian performance artist. The invite described the happening as “celebration of creativity, bringing together those that think outside the box”. As such, I expected to see plenty of artwork inspired by the unique energy of the celebrant, as well as plenty of lewks that delivered on his stunning mix of joie de vivre, sadomasochism, and glamour. I wasn’t disappointed.
The art that was put up for silent auction ranged in media and technique with Bowery as muse. Below are some highlights.
Equally impressive were the artistic creatures that the event attracted.
In the end, a good time was had by all and the museum conjured up the spirit of one of art-nightlife's great. If only all museum fundraisers could be so inspired!
“Upstate Manhattan” is what I have taken to calling my home turf in New York City. Technically named “Inwood”, my neighborhood is a vibrant mix of different ethnicities with the Dominican population being perhaps the most widespread. Having grown up in this northernmost part of the city, alot of the visual language that I saw in “Mercado”, a new show of work by the artist Lucia Hierro, was familiar and comforting to me.
Lotto tickets, platano chips, Nikes, supermarket circulars – commonplace objects from my everyday environment are literally elevated in Hierro’s work as soft sculptures sheathed in enormous tote bags. They function, in a way, like vessels of memory.
The six bags on display house an array of mementos, and each tell its own story with these objects cast as protagonists. Interestingly, sometimes the reincarnated detritus is juxtaposed against masterpieces of artwork from the European tradition. In so doing, a conversation across time and space ensues.
As if Hierro is showing us her heritage and her legacy in one fell swoop, “Mercado” is both nostalgic and prescient. It feels as if a new era of inclusion in the annals of Art History is being forged in Hierro’s market. Codes that were previously available only to a certain part of the population are exposed in her transparent bags. Indeed, the daily life of New Yorkers from a very specific socioeconomic and cultural class are writ large as Artwork in this environment.
Whether a native New Yorker or a transplant, "Mercado" can offer you a glimpse into a city that is in flux and an artist who is memorializing her environment one bag at a time.
Is Hierro's New York something that you can relate to? If so, how do you place it in your own conception of personal and cultural history? Let me know in the comments.
"Mercado" is on view at The Elizabeth Dee Gallery in Harlem until February 24, 2018.
Also, continue to see art through my eyes on my Instagram story @victorjohnart.
Beading to me is a very solitary process. Looking at the image that I am trying to represent in my medium can be tedious and challenging, but the rewards are plenty.
Knowing that I am going to be seated for a little while (an album design takes me about 2 hours), I usually opt for the “Netflix and Chill” approach to artmaking. This means that I turn on Netflix and let it go while I lay down one. bead. at. a. time…
As for the genre, typically I opt for documentaries when I work. My rationale is that there is not a “plot” per se and I don’t need to pay as much attention to the visuals to grasp what is happening. To be more specific, I am a big fan of the Fashion Documentary, and one documentary that I cannot get enough is “The September Issue”.
I recently re-watched the film and was reminded of how much I love it for it’s outrageous characters, addictive soundtrack, not to mention its manufactured drama —Will Anna get the Coliseum shot?!? Will there be enough bags in the shoot?!? Will Grace have to shoot yet again in Alder Mansion (which, as the line goes, is an “ugly fucking house”)?!? Cue dramatic music and GASP!
Since I have seen it so many times, I pretty much recite the movie as I build my piece. And by this I am not exclusively talking about the bombastic quotes that even a one-time viewer may be able to regurgitate (ie. anything uttered by the regal André Leon Talley), but even the more obscure, yet pointed zingers. Who can ever forget Tonne Goodman standing her ground and telling the timorous art director that “I know she needs more bags, but you know – YOU GET WHAT YOU GET” in response to the demands of Editrix Wintour. Sometimes I even insert quotes from the movie when in conversation with another friend of mine who is well versed. Obsessions can do that to you.
By the time you know it, two hours have almost elapsed and Anna’s met with the powers that be at Condé Nast, Grace's tableaus are vindicated, and the issue is off to the presses! Cue fun, pop music with a commercial bent but still just the right amount of indie! The music of the end credits usually means I have enough on my board to ruminate and marinate and I can think about my next piece. And so starts the process all over again. After all, as André says, "THERE IS A FAMINE OF BEAUTY HUNNY.... A FAM-INE OF BEAU-TY!"
Do you do anything while you work? Share your obsessions with me in the comments below!
When I think of the work David Hockney, images of crisp swimming pools, intensely saturated landscapes, and mesmerizing portraits of friends come to mind. All of these facets of the artist's oeuvre, of course, are present at "David Hockney" currently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. What took me by surprise, however, were Hockney's early works which reveled in Queerdom and unabashed sexuality.
The painting above was executed when Hockney was twenty-five years old in 1962 (Homosexuality was not decriminalized in Britain until 1967). The law did not keep Hockney from incorporating chains, vaseline, and tubes of ejaculating toothpaste in the painting. Much more raw than the later work, both in form and content, this painting was one of the standouts to me as it revealed a gestural drawing style that I didn't associate with Hockney.
A year later, the fluoride-swallowing, sadomasochistic monsters transform into sun-kissed, toned white boys in the shower replete with a red rotary phone (!!!). By this time the artist had relocated to sunny Los Angeles, a place that he had fantasized about.
"American's take showers all the time" remarked Hockney in the mid-70's. Undoubtedly the allure of wet bodies was too much for Hockney to ignore as half nude bodies in swimming pools would figure prominently in the artists work.
Also interesting was Hockney's interaction with the student body at UCLA where he taught a drawing class in the 60's. The model above was a young art student with whom Hockney became inseparable. In today's climate of nauseating political correctness and the ongoing witch hunt of sexual offenders, I cannot see a painting like the one above leaving the artist unscathed and unindicted. Yea for the 60's / Nay for the 60's — What do you think?
By the time we get to the inner galleries of the exhibition, spontaneous bottoms and exhibitionist bathers are replaced by clothed intellectuals in interior spaces. One senses a more refined approach to the work. The spaces are less flat and shapes are depicted in space in a very realistic way. Underneath the tight surface of the paintings, however, you still are welcomed into Hockey's world of queer life and freedom in homosexuality.
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