Sunday, November 29, 2009

Later Nerd

Adam Beadle, aka. "Team Nerd," has been a vital presence in Seattle's underground art scene for years. Primarily a print maker, Beadle creates celebratory and subversive images with wood and linoleum block prints, silkscreens and lithographs. He's shown his work in solo shows and group exhibitions, contributed to any number of zines and print collaborations, and created dozens of lighthearted pasteups and stickers that tweak Seattle's often glum streetart scene.

Beadle is off to Knoxville, Tennessee indefinitely to take a rare and precious gig at the Yee-Haw Industries letterpress studio. He's mounting one last Seattle show, opening this Thursday, December 3, on the 6th floor of 619 Western. He'll be there to sell off years worth of linocut prints, zines, stickers, t-shirts and more.

Beadle's aesthetic is both obsessive and joyous. Meticulously detailed and playfully spontaneous. We're gonna miss him around here, and wish him all the best on his new adventures.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful

You may not have a car at all,
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bike Repairs

In 2001, graphic designer Philip Carter published an esoteric little book called '1057', after the Highway Code number for the bike lane symbol used on British roads. 8 years later he is following up by collecting examples of symbols that have been repainted individually after the road they are on was repaired. He's using an ever growing Flickr site to gather the charming images. Check it out and contribute your own photos here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alias 'Man Ray'

A major retrospective of painter/ photographer/ filmmaker/ dadaist incarnate Man Ray opened this week at the Jewish Museum in New York City. Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was one of the defining artists of the 20th century. In addition to re-inventing his biography many times over, Man Ray was chameleon-like in his embrace of myriad cities, languages and art forms. First known as a Dadaist painter in New York, he became a Parisian Surrealist, an experimental filmmaker in Hollywood, a sculptor, a poet and a pioneering photographer. Contemporary biographical statements describe him as everything from the heir to a chewing-gum fortune to a coal merchant. A multimedia presentation is an absolute must to grasp Man Ray's enormous vision. This show offers paintings, photos, objets d'art and films in several languages.

Good essays about the exhibit here and here. 'Alias Man Ray' is at the Jewish Museum through March 14.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back to the Punk Rock Flea Market

Things are falling into place for the 7th Punk Rock Flea Market, just a few short weeks away on December 5. Market spaces sold out in record time - within 3 weeks of announcing the date all 60 spots were gone - and we've got an unusually strong array of vendors this time around. In addition to the usual books, records and high-class trash, a number of nationally known print makers and crafters have sniffed us out and are traveling to Seattle for the occasion. Plus the loyal Pokie Bones from Bike So Good is making a return appearance with a full load of bike supplies. Good stuff for sale, I kid you not.

The band line up is also insanely good once again, with appearances from the Hungry Crow Sideshow out of Eugene, OR ("forged in the cauldron of transcendent poetics and stamped with the sepia-tinted
seal of vaudeville"), Variables (from a collective of intelligent, angsty, nihilist, and absurd Seattle hip hop musicians, rapping over old school, new school and punk beats.) and Mexican UFO (five piece glam/punk/metal rock n roll powerhouse, making trouble wherever they go.) The Underground is only just big enough to contain all this insane energy.

And of course DJ Port-a-Party spins old school 45’s and accompanying films, bringing us back to a time when hope was plentiful, love was cheap and recorded music occupied physical space.

All this plus our taps are full of beer, and it still costs just ONE DOLLAR to get in. Word. The market is on Saturday Dec. 5 from noon to midnight at the Underground Events Center, 2407 1st Ave. in Belltown. More here. Don't miss it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bruno Schulz

Bruno Schulz died on this day, November 19, in 1942.

Schulz was a writer, poet and cartoonist, born in Drohobycz, Galicia, now Drogobych, Ukraine. Schulz studied architecture at Lvov University and fine arts in Vienna, specializing in lithography and drawing. After returning to his native town, he worked from 1924 to 1939 as an art teacher in the local gymnasium. Schulz was often considered strange, and spent many hours on his own in his parents' house, writing fiction.

Schulz's literary career began in earnest in the 1930's. His first collection of short stories "Cinnamon Shops" appeared in 1934, and a second collection, The Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass was published in 1937. (The two titles are available only as a single volume in English, called "The Street of Crocodiles") With these two collections Schulz became celebrated as one of the most original figures of the Polish avant-garde. In 1938 he was awarded the Golden Laurel of the Polish Academy of Literature.

In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and the remainder of the country was occupied by the Soviet Union. Between 1939 and 1941 Schulz lived in Soviet occupied territory, but when Germany attacked the U.S.S.R., his town was occupied by the Nazis. A Jew, Schulz garnered the favor of a Gestapo officer who liked his drawings and arranged for him to paint frescoes on the walls of his house. However, Schulz's patron had an argument with another Gestapo officer, and to prove a point the officer shot Schulz dead while he was crossing the street.

It has long been rumored that the manuscript of Schulz's last novel, entitled Messiah, still exists in the KGB archives relating to the Gestapo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ever Yours, Vincent

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has recently launched a marvelous new website, presenting hundreds of Vincent van Gogh’s gorgeous and revealing letters. The massive website not only features high resolution scanned facsimiles of more than 900 letters to and from Van Gogh, but also translates the letters into English, and provides a richly annotated index of the letters, searchable by chronology, place, and correspondent.

Perhaps the most impressive feature is the menu called Concordance. Here, the letters are hyperlinked to profiles of people and images of artworks specifically referenced by van Gogh — all the cultural scraps that formed the artist’s world.

It's an absolutely splendid website, but the ironies are manifold. Of course there's the cosmic joke that an artist who never made enough money to pay his rent is now the object of international veneration. Additionally, a project like this only makes sense in a world in which access to the internet is fast and widely available. Sadly, it's that same speed and available that has marked the death of letter writing. Van Gogh's letters were uniquely beautiful even at a time when letter writing was common, and are even more so in a world where we can throw millions of words and images at each other with a keystroke, yet create so little of lasting value.

Finally however, the letters are a powerful remedy for the over saturated market that is the Van Gogh industry. It's hard to have an unjaded opinion of Van Gogh. Who even looks anymore at the millions of cheap reprints available in any Hallmark store? The letters invite a lengthy new look at a truly fascinating artist.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Isabella Rossellini

How do I love Isabella Rossellini? As the daughter of Italian film giant Roberto Rossellini and legendary Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, she could have done practically anything. After stints on Italian television as a young woman, she became internationally famous as one of the most highly photographed models of her era. In 1986, while still appearing on the cover of Vogue magazine, Rossellini made the daring move of appearing as the abused nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's epically disturbing film Blue Velvet. The film was a sensation, and Rossellini's brave and revealing performance was simply breathtaking. Since then she has appeared in dozens of films and is in the midst of a gorgeous and unpredictable long-term collaboration with Winnipeg film auteur Guy Maddin. She is a former trustee of the George Eastman House and was a 1997 George Eastman Award honoree for her support of film preservation.

One of her current film projects is the splendidly strange Sundance Channel series Green Porno, a series of short films about the sex lives of insects. She writes, directs, and performs one-minute shorts in costumes she designs. “I was fascinated by the infinite, strange, and ‘scandalous’ ways that insects copulate” she wrote in the recently published book of photos and stories which accompanies the series, also called Green Porno.

Rossellini will be in Seattle this Tuesday, November 17 as a guest of Seattle Arts & Lectures. She reads from her new book and talks about her work at Benaroya Hall at 7:30 pm.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oscillating Field

On Halloween night, on the corner of E. Denny and Broadway in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, sculptor Dan Corson put the finishing touches on a splendid temporary installation. As part of the Sound Transit STart public art program, Corson was commissioned to place more than 3000 1/4" fiberglass rods of various heights in the then empty asphalt lot. The top of each rod is painted orange and the poles are spaced every 18" on a 100' x 65' grid, creating a topographical field.

Starting each night at 6pm lasers scan the Field to create patterns of light atop and across the poles. It's a mesmerizing effect.

Photographer Corey Scherrer worked with Corson on both installing the project and documenting the process. He published a gorgeous series of photos on his Picasa site here. At the end of November, the site will be turned over to the contractor in order to start construction on the Capitol Hill light rail station.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dark Days

Seattle bike bloggers Bikejuju and GoMeansGo have come together to stage a cool little contest for these dark winter months. They are calling for your very best bike-related photographs taken outside, after dark. Every photographer can submit up to 4 photos, and winners will be announced on the winter equinox, December 21. The contest is being sponsored by Planet Bike and Bikeglow, which means some decent prizes to reward your creativity and hard work. Winners in each of 3 categories receive a prize package including sweet bike lights. One winner will receive a full “commuter package” - a set of Cascadia fenders, mini pump, professional quality lights and a saddle bag with tire levers and patch kit. Full contest rules here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lisandro Alonso

Thrilled to see that Northwest Film Forum is screening all 4 films of the young Argentine director Lisandro Alonso over the next 10 days. Reading film blogs and journals these days you can't help but be aware of the breathless assessments of Alonso's limited output, but until now not one of his films has shown in Seattle.

Three of Alonso's four films, La Libertad, Los Muertos and Fantasma, form a trilogy often compared to the first films of Jim Jarmusch. The first two feature solitary characters in isolated and otherworldly landscapes, working toward elusive goals. The third film, Fantasma, works as a curious commentary on the first two. In it, the lead actors of the first two features wander through a building looking for a screening of Los Muertos. His most recent film, Liverpool, follows a sailor on a lonely journey in the southernmost region of Argentina.

Lisandro Alonso will be on hand at the NWFF throughout the series, introducing the premiere screenings of all four films and conducting a master class. The series begins with La Libertad on Wednesday the 11th and concludes with Liverpool on Friday the 20th.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hard Rain Falling

The 1966 novel Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter is an extremely well regarded "forgotten work" of American realist fiction, highly praised by lovers of classic crime novels and scholars of Northwest literature. The book was recently reprinted by the ever reliable New York Review Books, and I've been looking for an open window of time in which to start reading it. I'm even more eager to crack it open after reading George Pelacanos' appreciative essay in a recent edition of The Rumpus.

[Hard Rain Falling] is the kind of infrequent reading experience that can only be described as a revelation. Inexplicably long out of print, its republication by New York Review Books is cause for celebration...

Having escaped from his orphanage, [protagonist Jack Levitt] now runs with a group of hard teenagers who hang on the corner of Broadway and Yamhill in Portland, Oregon...Carpenter’s descriptions of pool halls and the intricacies of various billiard games are top shelf, as are his tours of the rooming houses, diners, and boxing arenas of the Pacific Northwest. After an incident involving a break-in, Jack is sent to reform school in Woodburn...Jack’s next stop is a stint in the state mental institution in Salem. He is released, boxes semi-professionally, does jail time in Peckham County, Idaho for “rolling a drunk,” and gets work in eastern Oregon, “bucking logs for a wildcat outfit.”

“I’m an atheist,” said Carpenter, in a 1975 interview. “I don’t see any moral superstructure to the universe at all. I consider my work optimistic in that the people, during the period I’m writing about them, are experiencing intense emotion. It is my belief that this is all there is to it. There is nothing beyond this.”

The complete essay is here. More about Don Carpenter here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Help Val

If you've been riding a bike for any length of time in Seattle then you know Val Kleitz. Val is widely recognized as the best mechanic in town, boasting an encyclopedic knowledge of old bicycle technology and a most impressive mustache. It turns out that the beloved Val is battling cancer.

Aaron’s Bicycle Repair in West Seattle and Redline Bicycles, based in Kent, are selling raffle tickets for a Redline 9-2-5 fixed-gear commuter bike to help pay some of Val's suddenly massive medical expenses. Because of Washington's gambling laws you have to swing by Aaron’s in person to buy a ticket, but far-flung folks who want to help can also make donations through this PayPal account. The drawing will be held at Aaron's on Sunday December 20th with Val in attendance.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Savage Illustrations

Illustrator and Art Director Joe Newton recently launched a new blog to show off the nearly 100 illustrations he's produced over 8 years for the sex advice column Savage Love. In Seattle, those illustrations are reproduced each week as teeny-tiny spot drawings in the Stranger. Newton's blog Savage Illustrations makes it much easier to appreciate the fine color and line work behind these charming drawings. Plus each image links to its original letter. Saucy!

Despite the subject matter they were originally commissioned for, the illustrations are cleverly safe for work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Say Nix!

For my 2 cents Joey Nix is the hardest working street artist in Seattle. As far as I've been able to count, in 2009 alone Joey has painted 3 large murals, painted an exquisite stairwell in the Moore Hotel as part of the "Moore Inside Out" project, contributed one whole room and two full hallways to the City Hostel Seattle, mounted 3 group exhibitions, 1 solo show, and has served as curator for the Whiskey Bar's ongoing series of exhibitions and performances. His reworking of the logo for Seattle's Juju Lounge was followed by a luminous series of hand painted vintage girlie postcards and mug shots of famous arrestees. And somewhere in the mix, he also found time to paint the Frank's Produce truck which has been circling the city delivering fruits and veggies.

And of course this is to say nothing of the street work that he may or not have done under an alias during the same period.

Seattle has its share of talented graffiti artists, but very few have the drive and talent to turn street writing into a legitimate career. Mad props to Joey Nix for working so damn hard to create such beautiful work. Nix's next show is a collaboration with the street artist Bingo, opening at the Whiskey Bar on November 15th.