Yayoi Kusama Is Bringing Her Famous Dots To Skateboarding

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Yayoi Kusama’s notorious dots are instantly recognizable. And now, you’ll be able to spot them on the streets instead of just inside museums, as the exalted artist is doing her own polka-dotted skateboards. MoMA has tapped her to create a series of 500 limited edition boards featuring renditions of her famous work, “DOTS OBSESSSION (2018),” exclusively available through their online design store.

 

 

Courtesy of MoMA Design Store

 

Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama made a name for herself in the early 1950s for her abstract paintings of those polka dots. After moving to the United States in 1957, she began creating her now infamous “Infinity Rooms” (currently on exhibit at The Cleveland Museum of Art) and staging offbeat happenings around New York City. Since 1977, she’s lived in the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill just outside of Tokyo, where she continues to paint regularly.

 

‘Phalli’s Field’ Infinity Room; photo by Eikoh Hosoe, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York  

 

In recent years, other artists have also lent their works to the skateboarding community, including Barbara Kruger, who teamed up with iconic skate shop and streetwear brand Supreme to create a series of “Don’t Be A Jerk” skateboards and skate ramps in 2017. But Kusama’s project will be her first (and potentially only) skateboard related ever – and they are all actually hand-painted by her. Originally, the boards were made from samples based on digital renderings of Kusama’s art work. But when they were shipped to the artist for final approval, she decided to paint over each one of them meticulously.

The skateboards will come in four different styles: two white boards with red dots (one large, one small), and two yellow boards with black dots (also in small and large sizes). Though the MoMA Design Store has not yet listed an official date for the drop, once they are available, we know they’ll sell out quickly. After all, if there are two types of people who like exclusives, it is definitely art collectors and skaters.

 

‘In Infinity’ by Kim Hansen, courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

 

Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills

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‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.

 

‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’

“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.

Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.

 

‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”

Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.

 

Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.

 

Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian

Ai Weiwei Teams Up with eBay and Public Art Fund on Exclusive Sale for World Refugee Day

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Radical Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has teamed up with New York non-profit Public Art Fund and eBay to launch an exclusive sale of his work in honor of World Refugee Day. From his recent Good Fences Make Good Neighbors exhibition in New York City, the artist has selected six remarkable portraits of global refugees that will be sold exclusively through eBay, starting today. With all profits going to charity, the limited edition prints are selling for $750 each, and will be available until June 27 (or until they sell out).

Originally launched in October 2017, Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors was inspired by the current immigration crisis, made all the more pertinent by this week’s news showcasing the way minors have been separated from their parents, and kept in horrible conditions at different United States border crossings.

The exhibition featured 300 portraits taken by the artist at 40 different global refugee camps, and were hung as banners on lampposts throughout New York City. The six images selected by Ai WeiWei and the Public Art Fund for sale on eBay, include a portrait of feminist activist Emma Goldman and current refugees photographed at the Shariya Camp in Iraq.

 

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Ai Weiwei has long been an outspoken social activist who uses various mediums, including photography, installation, sculpture and film, to make subversive statements about politics and the current climate. Public Art Fund is a New York City non-profit “dedicated to providing free access to the most important art of our time” by “bringing dynamic contemporary art to the broadest possible audiences.” Through public art exhibitions, like Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, the organization examines the ways in which we interact and appreciate art.

 

In honor of World Refugee day, the two have partnered with eBay for Charity, a special program on the international e-commerce giant that allows sellers to donate all funds to charities of their choice. Following the company’s recent collaboration with Warren Buffet, which raised over $3M for disenfranchised communities in San Francisco, the Ai Weiwei sale will support the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which offers health, safety, education and economic aid to communities that have been destroyed by conflict, and USA for UNHCR, a Washington D.C. non-profit that protects and helps refugees who have been displaced by violence or persecution.

 

Every June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day to support, honor and raise awareness for the millions of refugees across this globe — and this year, it couldn’t have come at a better time. To celebrate (and get an amazing piece of art in the process), buy your limited edition Ai Weiwei portrait, here.

 

Photos courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

What to Wear to Culture, Chelsea’s Boutique Training Gym

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Photos: Courtesy of Culture 

When scheduling a workout becomes harder than a workout itself, all bets are off. After all, who needs the added stress? Boutique training gym Culture Fitness seeks to solve that problem. Members are treated like members. They have time slots that belong to them, trainers who track their progress (Excel graphs, charts, and more included,) and intimate attention in a small space.

culture2

The training plans are curated and personalized so that three sessions per week really packs a punch. I went once and left with the sulky feeling that all the barre, yoga, and spin in the world would never quite compare (though they might be more of an experience).

Head trainer and co-founder Larry Twohig asks questions that get to the heart of the matter so that he can customize those plans. At one point, when I have been introduced to a torture device otherwise known as a Jacob’s Ladder and have ‘climbed’ 100 feet, and have another 100 to go, Twohig asks me if it’s my lungs or my legs that are feeling the pain. “My lungs,” I say, and he explains that I should work on endurance though my legs are strong (spin and whatnot).

culture 1Dreaded Jacob’s Ladder pictured at left

Being that Culture is for the working professional who returns to a phone with 75 emails after a single training session, the gear required is street-chic athleisure at it’s finest — who has time to change? Also, without the darkened ambiance of a spin studio, and with lights and omnipresent mirrors, a girl’s gotta look good. That is, after all, the best possible encouragement. For this, I returned to an aforementioned favorite, Alala, whose founder Denise Lee excels in making her customer feel like maybe she will never actually wear jeans and a top again. That’s how sexy, transitional, and chic this stuff is. The perfect confidence boost for those last five push-ups you don’t think you can survive.

IMG_9906Unabashedly admitting to being obsessed with my own outfit: twilight tank + this amazing neoprene sweatshirt + these leggings.

I’d love to see what miracles will occur were I to go to Culture 3x/week for even just a month. If you’re looking to hold yourself to high standard on any big time New Year’s resolutions, this might just the place you’ve been looking for.

NYC Culture Just Got Hotter: Launch of Tattoo Photo Book & Art Show By Former BlackBook Editor

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I guess I have to come back. Paradise is where you make it, but I have gotten used to the sand, surf, and sun, and the generally slow pace of this wonderful island. Alas, I will walk among you tomorrow morning. There are two events of interest: Tomorrow, Saatchi & Saatchi are hosting a soiree from 6pm to 10pm for the launch of photography book Generation Ink: Williamsburg, featuring photos of 20-somethings and their tattoos by Paul Nathan. The Dough Rollers are performing, and my gang from Magic Cobra Tattoo Society will be doing what they usually do on Driggs and S. 3rd. Sailor Jerry Rum will provide the courage. It’s kind of ironic that this event is taking place in Manhattan, 375 Hudson St. Manhattan is that place where cool kids slum. Paul Nathan will be taking a portrait of people who buy his book at the event.

Tonight is the opening reception for art exhibit “Bad w/$”  at 443 PAS (443 Park Avenue South). The hubbub is about a solo show of work by Fernando Cwilich Gil that “continues his longstanding exploration of wealth and poverty through painting, design, and media." The show will run until New Year’s Day. Tonight’s opening reception will run from 6pm to 8pm. Gil was the dude who brought me to BlackBook, so you can blame him. Since I am traveling I’m just going to paste the show’s one-sheet onto my column and go back to the beach.

…Gil is the owner of Buenos Aires-based Liquid Assets Paint & Pigment Company, a functional/conceptual company established in 1997 that manufactures and sells artist paint made from 100% pure currency pigment (liquidassetspaint.com). In 2012, Gil began working with neuroscientists from the Universidad de Buenos Aires to measure cognitive visual capacity in a dynamic online environment. A beta version of the project can be found attdma.tv. Both of the above projects will be featured in Bad w/$, along with traditional paintings.

Gil (b. 1977 in Argentina) lives and works in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) In 2002 he conceived and co-founded ProyectArte, a Buenos Aires-based nonprofit that provides fine art training to poor young people in South America. He is the founder of the Prima Gallery in Buenos Aires. His work has been show extensively in the Americas and Europe, where he has also left his mark in the more traditional media world as an editor and creative director for print, broadcast and online media for clients such as Adidas, Heineken, Nike, LVMH, and others. He has also served as editor of BlackBook and as a reporter for the New York Post, and has written for many other media.

Dallas, the City, Comes Back Too!

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Earlier this week, to celebrate the return of Dallas, we had Patrick Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing, muse on the return of the show. Well, there’s also a city named Dallas that is experiencing a Comeback. So we asked Chris LaBove, co-artistic director of Second Thought Theatre, to give us a tour of the new and re-up and coming city.

In the 1980s, Dallas, awash in oil money, had little in the way of culture. Thirty odd years later, some of that money has finally made its way into the arts. Now Dallas is at a cultural tipping point. Creative energy breeds creative energy, and in the last few months alone, Dallas Symphony Orchestra maestro Jaap van Zweden was named conductor of the year by Musical America; the Dallas Museum of Art hosted the Gaultier exhibit—one of only two cities in the U.S. to do so; and the musical Lysistrata Jones, which premiered at the Dallas Theater Center, jumped to Broadway.

Much of this ferment is found in a four-block stretch that comprises the Dallas Arts District. At one end are the Dallas Museum of Art, The Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center. At the other end is the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which is home to The Dallas Opera, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Dallas Theater Center, whose director, Kevin Moriarty, launched the citywide Foote Festival, a tribute to Texan playwright Horton Foote. Take that, arty Austin!

But from the ground bubbles underground spots, too, like the Texas Theatre, an independent film house, and indie rock spot The Curtain Club. Be sure to pay a visit to the brew masters at the Meddlesome Moth where, on any given night, you’ll find the sophisticated sons of the oil boom.

Amerie Defeats Kanye in Sunglasses War

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The benefits of conducting a live interview with an artist usually outweighs the pitfalls, with being able to have a natural, face-to-face conversation ranking at the top, and having to sit through a one hour-plus delay in the middle of a busy day, rounding out the bottom – -which is unfortunately what happened to me when I went to interview Amerie at her new Def Jam record label.

When I finally get the chance to sit down with the pop star, she looks cool, calm and collected, decked out in her pink blazer, sky-high heels, and killer sunglasses. Despite my bitterness at having been made to wait for so long, her bubbly, conversational personality quickly wears me down, and against my will, I’m forced to smile and enjoy the interview. A few minutes into our conversation, I’m lighthearted once again, and can’t help but open up, share, and listen to the stunning songstress dish about the boy dramas that inspired her upcoming album, In Love and War, her sunglasses collection that can rival Kanye’s, and her generous, gift-giving Asian fan base.

The new album is titled In Love and War. So, can you tell us, is everything really fair in love and war? It is, but it isn’t, because karma comes back to you. When I titled the album In Love and War, I was working on the song called “Love and War.” I wrote the song, and while I was in the booth vocaling it, I thought — you know, I think I’m going to change the album title to In Love and War, because the hook went, “In love and war, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, in love and war, you can lose everything you had in one night.” So it’s talking about how all these things happen both in love and in war, comparing how those two are very similar. With this album, I really wanted to come from a very real place, so it’s all stuff that I’ve been through. The few songs that aren’t personal were things that I was on the sidelines of; things that someone very close to me went through. So my friends will listen and laugh, because they’ll remember the conversation that I put in the song.

Since a lot of the album is autobiographical, is a guy ever going to hear a record and realize that he did something wrong? They’re things that we probably discussed, because a lot of the album is what I was actually saying to them. For example, there’s one song where I’m yelling and my mom said to me, “I don’t know, it sounds like you’re just yelling, like you’re mad,” and I was like, well I am mad, and that’s why it’s like that. I’m screaming about how you ask me why I keep asking you the same questions, but it’s because every time I ask you the same question you give me a different answer. I know girls can relate, because that’s what happens.

Have you ever seen the episode of Sex & the City where Carrie publishes her book, Mr. Big reads it, and then he feels guilty because he finally realized how much he hurt her? Has that ever happened to you? I love Sex and the City. I have all the seasons on DVD, so I watch and re-watch. But I don’t know, I think a guy would have to really be “all there” to get it. So many people do so many messed up things that it’s almost like you don’t know if it could be about you or not.

There are battles in every relationship. In a healthy relationship, what’s the ratio of love and war? I think that if you’re fighting in the beginning it doesn’t bode well. You should be going through the honeymoon stage, so if you’re fighting during honeymoon time, I don’t know what’s going to happen after that. Usually all the lovey-dovey stuff goes down hill from that point, but I think there can be certain relationships where the growing pains can be at the beginning and it can be worth it. But I think if you’re in high school for example, you shouldn’t even deal with it. I don’t even advocate dating in high school, because you’re not going to remember the guy four years from now. You’re going to be like — Who? What? Why was I crying again?

You’ve been M.I.A. from the American music scene for awhile. When a musician like you disappears for a bit, are you still working behind the scenes? I was just telling someone today that people always say, “Oh, this artist is gone, where did they go? They disappeared.” But most of the time, if an artist isn’t out, it’s because there’s some kind of legal or contractual issue they’re going through with the label. So they might not have distributed anything, but they’re most likely still creating. You never really stop creating.

You did most of the writing on the new album; does that make it much more personal than the previous ones? For my last album, Because I Love It, which was released overseas, (but not here because I was transitioning labels), I wrote the whole thing, with just a couple of co-writers. And my first album was still very personal, even though I wasn’t writing the lyrics because I was very involved with the arrangements, song topics, the delivery, and everything else. Now, I usually write all of my stuff, but this one is a little different because it’s like almost taking verbatim some of the things I’ve gone through recently and putting it on record.

You’re half black and half Korean. Is your Korean fan base very different from your American fans? Asian fans in general are a little bit different because it’s such a different culture. Over here the fans are very excited, but when you go there they’re very excited, but they’re also very shy and they love to give gifts. They’ll figure out what you like and they bring gift bags to concerts, so I just have tons of little gift bags, and I keep them all. When someone puts in that much effort, I have to keep them all.

What do they usually bring you? I mentioned before that I like Hello Kitty, so I’ve been getting lots of Hello Kitty. And even though I’m not so much into it now, I still love when they give it to me. So I have Hello Kitty pillows, Hello Kitty stuffed animals, Hello Kitty pencils, Hello Kitty stickers, Hello Kitty mirrors…

People are really intrigued by the fact that you’re mixed race. Is that a commodity? I don’t know, I think it’s great thing, but at the same time, we’re all mixed up and I never really like to say, “this mix is great,” or, “that mix is great,” because I don’t know if I should look at it that way. I don’t like to focus on it too much, because it just gets weird sometimes.

It’s obvious that you’re into fashion and accessories, but your sunglasses always make the biggest statement. I think you might be able to compete with Kanye’s collection. I actually told him that! We were in Vegas, and I walked up to Kanye — because we were joking before that he always has great shades – and I was like, “My sunglasses beat your sunglasses!” And he was really cool about it. I love sunglasses, especially vintage; I love it when they’re 20-years-old or more. I used to keep them all closed up, but it got to be so many that I needed to see them all, so I took them out of the cases and put them in a drawer, and they’re all divided up by style – aviators, 70s vintage, early 80s vintage, etc I love love vintage.

Vintage everything? Well, I don’t know about everything — like vintage shoes, I don’t think so! I don’t like the idea of things that other people have worn. The vintage stuff that I have, they’re all one hundred percent never before worn. Sellers have people who scout things, so they’re all vintage but never worn. Vintage is cool, but the idea of other people’s energy — I don’t like it. For example, I have a vintage fur jacket — I don’t like to buy new fur, because I feel bad about the torture involved, so if it’s a vintage that makes me feel a little bit better — and I had to sage it, to cleanse it. I’m very spiritual.