Friday, December 17, 2010

A Niemann for all Seasons

Let's say goodbye to 2010 with a Christoph Niemann piece! Always the best way to do anything.

Abstract City: Let It Dough! (NY Times)

This one has cookies!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Closure

Please note that UCLA Extension will be closed from December 20, 2010 - January 3, 2011.

To enroll in classes, or for program information, visit

Friday, December 10, 2010


Every year, Pantone anoints a "Color of the Year." Then that color gets a little crown made of paint chips and tears run down its face as it waves to all the other color swatches from atop a slowly moving Epson printer on wheels.

No, really nothing happens, except a bunch of weird announcements and trend pieces are done. Last year's color was turquoise, which is already pushing it. This year's color is honeysuckle.

What now?

Let's investigate. Here is a picture of ACTUAL HONEYSUCKLE:

It looks white, right? But whatever, maybe this is just a deceptive picture. Maybe that's a rare albino honeysuckle.

Here's the color according to Pantone:

You're probably thinking to yourself, "I HAVE TO GET ON THIS HONEYSUCKLE TREND." Don't worry, we're here to help! Here are some ways to incorporate honeysuckle into your wardrobe and onto your body:
This lipstick is literally called "Honeysuckle." You can't get any more on the nose than that (unless you put the lipstick on your nose, HA!). Seriously though, Bobbi Brown make-up is good.

This pretty Michael Kors dress is a great wardrobe staple for anyone who is a secret lady ninja assassin who goes to fancy galas and then also has to do flying front-kicks into people's faces. If your right leg needs to go at a 170-degree angle at any point during your evening, this is the perfect dress.

Probably don't do this.

In conclusion, the more you write the word "honeysuckle" the funnier it looks and sounds in your mind.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ami Davis Was on NPR!

Christmas Cottage, Thomas Kinkade

Our own Ami Davis, who will be teaching her first class this Saturday, was featured in an NPR story on Thomas Kinkade.

Ami wrote her master's thesis on Kinkade, and she gave some insight into the appeal of the "painter of light."

Her upcoming class will touch on Kinkade's work as a way of investigating the different between mainstream art and lowbrow, outsider art, and kitch. Also, field trip to La Luz de Jesus Gallery! It sounds like it will be a fun time.

It's not to late to sign up - details below.

Art beyond the Museum: Lowbrow, Kitsch, and Outsider Art
Why are some works of art exhibited in museums while others aren't? Who decides the criteria for an artwork's acceptance by the art establishment? Often exhibited in mall-based art shops and underground galleries, lowbrow, kitsch, and outsider art is rarely noticed by the mainstream art establishment and even more rarely exhibited. This two-meeting course examines works by popular "lowbrow" artists from Mark Ryden to Thomas Kinkade, comparing their visual devices to mainstream artists, such as Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol, among many others. At the second class, students meet at a local underground art gallery to explore lowbrow art and debate its aesthetic merits. Internet access required to retrieve course materials.

Reg# V8633B
Fee: $95
Westwood: 415 1010 Westwood Center
Sat 10am-1pm, Dec 4
Los Angeles: La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Sat 11am-1pm, Dec 11, 2 mtgs
Ami Davis, MA in art history, San Jose State University; Education Specialist, J. Paul Getty Museum. Ms. Davis also has taught art and art history at the Orange County Museum of Art and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well, When You Explain It Like That

I think I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Nuart when I was like 14, because my Dad was really into taking us to see revivals of films that "need to be seen on the big screen" (Lawrence of Arabia was another memorable one).

At the time, I remember being shocked, shocked at how long it was. I thought they should have just skipped right to the space stuff, and I kind of shamefully, in my secret heart, still feel that way. I mean, at the very LEAST, the middle part in the space station that's full of weird cold-war exposition could go.

But each time I watch it, I like it more, and have more patience with it. However, I never felt that I had a strong grasp on what it was actually about. I mean, it's about evolution, and a monolith on the moon that makes a painful ringing noise, and a computer that kills people. But especially the part where he goes into the wormhole or whatever, I think it's really cool, but I have thrown up my mental hands and admitted that I have no idea what that's about (and why his aging self lives in a weird Hearst-like castle, and what the deal is with the space-fetus).

I always suspected it was one of those movies that doesn't have an "explanation" per's just kind of metaphorical and mysterious and not everything has a meaning. But I was wrong, because Stanley Kubrick breaks it down like it's the most obvious thing ever in a 1969 interview:

"You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression. Then you have a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface and programmed to signal word of man's first baby steps into the universe -- a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And finally there's a third artifact placed in orbit around Jupiter and waiting for the time when man has reached the outer rim of his own solar system.

When the surviving astronaut, Bowman, ultimately reaches Jupiter, this artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and finally transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he's placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, if you like, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man's evolutionary destiny.

That is what happens on the film's simplest level. Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline itself."

Oh, THAT's what that is. Actually, I am not even kidding, this clears up a lot of things.

Let's look at some pictures from the movie!

Via Kottke.

The Dark Side of Design

My philosophy about funny Star Wars related things is that people will continue to do funny Star Wars related things forever, and they will continue to be amusing and delightful and I will never tire of them.

This philosophy might seem overly optimistic, but I think history will prove me right.

Today's example is May the Force of Typography Be With You:

Yoda is the best, obvs. He is straight chillin'. If you click on the picture, the legend shows the typographical symbols that were used.

In closing, have you noticed how not a lot of people use Episode I, II and III as the playground for letting their imaginations run wild? I mean, it just doesn't seem to have the same inspiration for childlike artistic creativy. No judgement, just as observation (judgement).

Via Laughingsquid, from the website Kiss My Black Ads.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walking in a 90° Winter Wonderland

It has been hot in Westwood lately. Gross, 95°-in-November hot. It's just weird and inappropriate.

BUT the unseasonable heat cannot hold back the winter catalog, which came out this week. Check it out here.

We have a bunch of exciting new classes - it should be fun quarter. In honor of the season, here are some songs about winter but not the holidays, not that holiday songs aren't great, but we will be getting enough of those in the malls and pavillions of the world soon enough.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Internship: Stephen Cohen Gallery

Stephen Cohen Gallery is looking for highly motivated, hard working individuals to work as interns at the gallery, and for two art fairs taking place this January, photo l.a. and artLA.

These internships involve interactions with all levels of the gallery and fair operations. Candidates must have either educational, professional and/or personal connection with photography and/or fine art. Regardless of getting course credit, you will learn, gain insider knowledge of the art scene and experience the satisfaction from being part of something that wasn’t there before. Candidates should have these qualities.

• highly organized
• self-motivated team players
• can work effectively in a fast-paced & sometimes high-stress environment
• manage time efficiently & establish priorities
• follow through efficiently to meet the objectives of project assignments
• maintain a cohesive & cooperative working relationships
• must be able to go from A to C without being directed
• must be creative & enjoy analyzing and solving problems
• working ability with word, excel & iMac
• strong telephone & writing skills
• familiarity with Photoshop & InDesign a plus

Send all inquiries, resume or CV to:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shoes of My Dreams, How Can You Be Mine?

Kobi Levi's shoes are like some kind of fever dream you'd have if you passed out at Nordstrom after sniffing too many perfume samples. They definitely cross the line from cutesy but wearable concepts to straight-up art on your foot. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I do know that the dog ones are oh so cute.

From the artist:

"In my artistic footwear design the shoe is my canvas. The trigger to create a new piece comes when an idea, a concept and/or an image comes to mind. The combination of the image and footwear creates a new hybrid and the design/concept comes to life. The piece is a wearable sculpture. It is "alive" with/out the foot/body. Most of the inspirations are out of the "shoe-world", and give the footwear an extreme transformation. The result is usually humoristic with a unique point of view about footwear. Another aspect of the creation is the realization. All the pieces are hand-made in my studio. The challenging technical development is the key to bring the design to life in the best way."

These are definitely the kind of shoes you match an outfit to, and by "an outfit" I mean a Gallagher-style plastic splash shield for when you BLOW PEOPLE'S MINDS.

Via Jezebel

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Evening With Melvin Sokolsky

APA LA is hosting an evening with legendary photographer Melvin Sokolsky.

From their event page:

Melvin Sokolsky will discuss his journey in the word of photography, giving personal insight into the following subjects and concepts;

Melvin Sokolsky "Archive"

"Revelations and Insights into a lifetime of taking pictures"

"Being in charge of your inner vision and creative potential"

Transcending all of the new remarkable tools to find your one of a kind identity






Imagined worlds

Revelations from his Paris 1963-1965 classic Bubble and flying pictures.

October 2, 2010

Dinner included
FREE for APA Members
$20 Non-Members (Pre-Register online)
$25 Non-Members (Day of or at door)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Colorful Contorted Characters

Choreographer Willi Dorner is responsible for a recent art piece, "Bodies in Urban Spaces" in which brightly-dressed performers form complex bodily arrangements on the streets of New York.

The effect is really cool! I hope everyone showered really well and used deoderant beforehand, because it looks like certain performers might have to spend some time with their noses directly in other performers' armpits or feet.

Via Laughingsquid

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bambi Corona

I love this deer made of typewriter parts.

What are the legs? Do typewriters have telescoping appendages that I am not aware of?

By artist Jeremy Mayer, via Boingboing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Instructor Interview: Ben Britton

It's been a while since we've had an abstract painting class on the schedule, so we're excited that Ben Britton will be joining us this fall to take his students on a painting adventure (paintventure!).

He shared some thoughts with us about painting, what inspires him, and what to do when the tide of inspiration is out.

What are you focusing on in your own practice right now?
I'm focusing on harnessing the quality of surface right now. My paintings tend towards the polyglot, in that I use diverse vocabulary and try to keep it all together. Surface has been a challenge in that environment. Because of the surface considerations, I'm making a selection of new processes to use in my paintings. Also, I guess I'm following a thread-of-inquiry to new place right now in anticipation of a residency I'm attending in November.

What are some of the challenges unique to abstract work?
Not entirely unique to abstraction, but certainly in play is the perception of a lack of moment-to-moment "marching orders" or tasks that clearly need to be performed. The development of a sensibility that can operate with seemingly endless options for action and inaction is a challenge, but a sweet one. The choices force an exploration of emotional and intellectual conversations and impulses in a very satisfying way. It goes another way too: the viewer can be challenged to think and feel along the same pathways without clear "instructions" for interpretation.

What do you hope students will come away from the class with?
I hope they will come away really enthusiastic about making more paintings!

Who are some artists you admire or have inspired you?

Among painters, from the beginning I loved the paintings of James Rosenquist, Richard Diebenkorn, and Frank Stella. Ok, I also love Sargent, Velasquez, Hals, and Manet. I like the work of James Ensor, and also that of contemporary expressionists like Amy Sillman, Daniel Richter and Peter Doig. I've always liked the motion in Julie Mehretu's drawings. Fiona Rae's work is also an influence for me when it comes to post-modern painting. I get really excited when I see convincing cases made for contemporary manifestations of the romantic impulse. I love Kristin Baker's paintings for that reason. Artists who were my teachers at SVA and UCLA such as Tobi Kahn, Don Eddy, Micheal Goldberg, Don Suggs, Patty Wickman, Lari Pittman, and Roger Herman were inspirational to me as well. My wife, Sarah Lowing, is an artist and a lot of my friends are artists, so knowing them and their work together is a rich experience that ranks pretty high as far as admiration and inspiration too. And many more but that's all for now.

What advice would you give artists who are just getting started or are trying to commit more to their work?
Practically speaking, figure out how to paint more often. Whether the strategy is simple frugality, going to school, or renting a room-of-one's-own, the main thing is to paint more. If you have a sketchbook always with you at your day-job, so that when you get a flash idea it doesn't get lost, that's a good way to stay in the game. Sometimes many things or big things are possible, sometimes not. DIY if you're short on funds. Work in whatever way that fits for now, and when you feel you've outgrown that mode get more ambitious. Respect that the tide goes in and out, and you can rest on the mud awhile if you are forced to, but be patient and don't abandon ship. It's really important to stay open, to be excited to see a thing that's new or just new-to-you. We live in a really interesting time to be an artist, and the question of who gets to be the artists and why will get answered one-by-one, by people who choose to make art. I think that's a lovely and empowering thought.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Calligraphy Is Where It's At

Student Alisara Tareekes made a beautiful poster for an upcoming class with Carrie Imai, our calligraphy guru.

Seriously, this poster is gorgeous. Great job Alisara!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peanuts and Swollen Feet

For some people, air travel is a magical journey into lands unknown, and for others it is a special kind of hell, one of stupefying boredom, discomfort and absurdity.

Christoph Niemann captures some of the most annoying, mundane yet maddening parts of air travel, but not in a hacky stand-up comic way (although he kind of does address the peanuts, but it's not to say "And hey, what's with the tiny bags of peanuts? Who eats six peanuts?")

Here are the pages I most identified with:

The degree of seat inclination seems scientifically designed to produce Stockholm Syndrome. You are dependent on the seat for comfort, and it inclines just enough to hint at actual relaxation.

I know I am not the only person who has woken up with the oral equivalent of the scene in Star Wars where they get dumped into the waste disposal unit of the Death Star, and then it starts compacting.

Good to know that someone elses feet become gigantically swollen after a long flight. I have struggled many a time to stuff my poor enormous feet back into sneakers, only to be forced to compromise by leaving them unlaced, tongues flapping as I shuffle down the aisle towards freedom.

Red Eye by Christoph Niemann, NY Times

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Now THAT Is a Baby

I greatly enjoy Amy Jean Porter's illustrated series Drawings in a Hurry, featured on The Awl.

The last one was my favorite though, because she talks about bringing home her new baby (congrats!) and the accompanying picture looks just exactly like a baby. She totally captures the weird floppy newborn awkwardness and littleness.

I must have seen a newborn in that same pose recently, because it is striking a real chord with me.

I also like the picture of the older sister waiting for baby to come home. Her face is just kind of confused and guarded. Like, something is happening, but what? How will it effect me?

Just really good pictures that are evocative of kids. That's a pretty cool yellow hat too, big sister.

Via The Awl.

The Definition of "Not Photoshopped"

If you are looking at this picture and thinking "That's Photoshopped and not cool at all" THINK AGAIN because according to the artist, it is not Photoshopped, and Darth Vader is really riding that squirrel.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE you may ask. Observe:

Of course, by "not Photoshopped" he actually means that while the figure is really riding the squirrel, the puppet strings are removed, so really maybe it's more like "only a little incidental Photoshop." And really, what doesn't have that these days? I have a little bit of Photoshop right now, here at my desk. And that is O.K.

Via Gizmodo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Have Always Been Distracted, So There

So the new thing now is that the Internet and iPhones and Google are shortening our attention spans and destroying our brains' ability to focus on a single concept for long periods of time, and turning us into a nation of distracted, drunken bumble bees, buzzing around checking Facebook and e-mail and G-chatting. Or anyway, I think that's the new thing - the article was really long.

But! It turns out multi-tasking is not unique to our modern digital age. Way way WAY back in the day, folks were embedding hypertext into illuminated manuscripts.

"WHAT" you may well ask. What indeed.

First of all, this is an illuminated manuscript:

I'm sure we remember these from school, or forced museum trips or whatever.

Anyway, according to an article by Elizabeth Drescher, these ancient tomes were filled with "hypertextual" asides, passed around from author to author, and included script in the margins that was sometimes on and sometimes off the topic of the original work.

"The function of these images in illuminated manuscripts has no small bearing on the hypertext analogy. These “miniatures” did not generally function as illustrations of something in the written text, but in reference to something beyond it. The patron of the volume might be shown receiving the completed book or supervising its writing. Or, a scene related to a saint might accompany a biblical text read on that saint’s day in the liturgical calendar without otherwise having anything to do with the scripture passage. Of particular delight to us today, much of the marginalia in illuminated books expressed the opinions and feelings of the illuminator about all manner of things—his demanding wife, the debauched monks in his neighborhood, or his own bacchanalian exploits."

There you have it - irrefutable proof that we have always liked to have a lot of things going on at once, even in old old old religious books with shiny gold pages. If those guys would have had Twitter, I'm sure they would be like "@crazycoolmonk, writing this passage about mules is making me hungry for a BURRITO!"

If you are intrigued by this subject and would like to learn more about illuminated manuscripts, and even MAKE YOUR OWN illuminated manuscript (complete with as much distracted text as you want), why not check out our class The Art of Illuminated Manuscripts? with instructor Kelly Williams. You will go to the Getty to check some out first hand, and then retire to the art studio to experiment with making your own.

Article from Religion Dispatches (via Kottke).

But Where Is Mr. Comic Sans?

Apparently he wasn't invited to the typestache party.

A Girl Named Tor (via Kottke)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Your Show 2010!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the opening reception of our show! It was great to see our students, along with their friends and supporters.

We hope you enjoyed the opening as much as we did - here's a slideshow and some pictures from the evening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Art Authentication Is Sketchy

People, there is a FASCINATING article in this week's New Yorker that deals with the process of authenticating artwork (you know, someone finds a drip painting at a garage sale that turns out to be a Jackson Pollock worth 1.8 million).

Art authentication is at best an inexact science, and the article focuses on Peter Paul Biro, a former art restorer who claims to have invented a method of identifying the fingerprints that artists leave on their work (thereby confirming that a drawing was actually touched by Leonardo Da Vinci, as opposed to a forger in a basement in Queens).

Except, SPOILER ALERT, Peter Paul Biro may actually be a fraud and con man who preys on the hopes of people who are convinced they have an undiscovered masterpeice on their hands.

I don't want to give away too much, but you should READ IT, even though it is super long. It's totally worth it, I was riveted. People would try to talk to me, and I would just put up the "I'm reading" hand. It was pretty rude, actually.

Read it quick before they put it behind a pay wall!

The Mark of a Masterpiece by David Grann

(image from The New Yorker article, by Steve Pyke).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Domino's Pizza and Truth in Advertising

This Domino's pizza commercial is high-larious, and makes me want to talk about so many things. First, let's watch it together:

Surely by now you are familiar with Domino's masochistic new ad campaign, in which they talk in detail about how terrible Domino's pizza is. Apparently this controversial approach is working, and Domino's saw their fourth-quarter profits double.

The transparency train rolls on with the above spot, which unfolds like an episode of 20/20, blowing the lid off the rampant food styling that takes place during commercial shoots. A woman wearing gloves pulls the cheese off just so! The pizza is bolted to the table! A minion with a pair of tweezers picks through individual mozzarella curds! I guess we're supposed to be totally shocked and incensed by the straight-up LIES that TV is selling us, and the fact that the pizza is not natural.

Instead of rallying against this bill of goods, I kind of just thought the things that were done to the pizza made good sense, and were extremely reasonable. I mean, they use heat the cheese! So it pulls better! Makes sense! The pizza is bolted to the table, but so what? It's still the same pizza. If you're going to take a smug, superior stance against food styling, you need to have something in your pocket like the cheese is actually an Elmers Glue/soy milk/caulk compound, or the pepperoni is glazed with nail polish, or the whole thing is run through Photoshop before it appears on the screen.

Food styling happens because food is gross, and TV makes things look gross, and food on TV looks super gross. You know what else goes through styling for TV? Everything. People's faces. Nature. Puppies. Ice cream. When I stare at the TV (ie. always), I want things to look magical and delicious and not of this world.

Actually, Paul and I were watching Food Network the other day, and he mentioned how extremely over-saturated the colors on the food shots are. The talking heads and hosts would look totally normal, and then they would show a shot of an oozing grilled cheese sandwich, and it would look INSANE, like the grilled cheese was popping out of the screen and wanted to be a part of your life, which is the ideal way for grilled cheese to be.

I guess my basic philosophy is: yes. Let's do this. Let's make things look awesome, even if, in real life, they are not as awesome. In real life, a sandwich is just a sandwich, but at least on TV I can watch someone freak out over the Platonic ideal of grilled cheese, and when you pull the halves apart, the angels sing.

Also, Domino's Pizza, it is difficult for me to get on board with your ad campaign of self-flagellation and piousness and honesty and respect for the consumer and "getting back to basics" when it is, after all, an ad campaign, born of meetings and data and reports and focus groups. Honesty in advertising is desirable only if it is effective in generating sales. That is literally the only reason it's important - if it strengthens the brand and more people buy Domino's, and the stock goes up. Which is fine! Domino's needs to sell their pizza! That is their whole job. I guess my issue is that the ads communicate an emotion and motivation which is deceptive. They say "We want to be honest with you because we respect you," but really, they only want to be honest because the perception of honesty is selling a whole bunch of pizza. I was actually OK with the whole "Our pizza is bad, but we are trying to make it better" angle. Straighforward, and I could actually buy it. But pretending that you want to strip the falsehood and glamour away from television for any reason other than because you will benefit from it financially? I just can't let you play TV like that - we go way back.

Via The Awl

Monday, June 28, 2010

Internship Opportunity

This came through from a former student:

We are looking for someone who is interested in an internship with a Los Angeles based fashion photographer. The position is to work primarily as a photo retoucher and should have good knowledge of photoshop. The internship is unpaid initially, but with possibility of paid job in the future.

Please send sample of work (before and after of retouching in pdf format is fine). Subject heading of "internship" would be helpful in email.

Feel free to email me with any questions.

Thank you, Jennifer

Friday, June 18, 2010

Classical Mario

At first when I saw this I was like pppth, another Mario-themed classical music arrangement, YAWN. That's how jaded the internet has made me.

But this is actually delightful. The violinist mimics not only the music but the sound effects we all know and love, like the "boingboingBOING" of the mushroom and the frenzied double-time of Star Power. It ends, of course, with the terrible dirge of Mario spiralling to his death. But that's ok! You have two more lives.

Also, that is a snazzy outfit, violin man.

Via Laughingsquid.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tarkovsky's Polaroids: Just What You Would Expect

When my sister and I were kids, my Dad went through a phase of showing us a lot of inappropriate movies. I don't mean racy inappropriate, I mean intellectually inappropriate. There was the time we watched La Strada, and I couldn't believe one movie could be so boring. To this day I remember how extremely bored I was during La Strada. I think there was a screening of 2001, which we actually kind of enjoyed, and then there was the time we saw THX-1138, and I was like "Dad, this is completely terrifying." Robert Duvall's bald head is forever seared into my memory.

It was during that time that I saw Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Somehow I was completely entranced by this movie, even though it is literally about people walking somewhere, and nothing else, for three hours. Also it's in Russian. But it was really beautiful, with its palette of grays turning eventually to dingy color. Every frame is perfectly composed, like a painting. Here are some stills:

Doesn't that look like a good movie? It is.

The whole thing came back to me when I saw a website that has pictures Tarkovsky took while running around Moscow in the '70s with a Polaroid. A Russian website has a scanned compilation of all the images, and they reflect the same ghostly, poetic aesthetic that I remember from the movie. There is an eerie stillness to them that feels lonely.

You can read more of the back story on these images, and see many more, on the blog Poemas del Rio Wang (in English and Spanish).

Via Boingboing