L.A. the Blog: Poems and Performances – ‘the WOMEN group’

On a weeknight a few months ago along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park at the Sancho Art Gallery a group of mostly women poets fronted by musician and poet Dylan Doren performed in celebration of art, words and beats. It marked a beginning for these artists who gathered together for the first time as WOMEN. A month later in the neighborhood of Mt. Washington, Dylan arrived at a party with poetry and music, performing in his wake an eclectic mix of male and female poets exploring sound and meaning. Interestingly this event showcased an entirely different set of poets. One month later off a section of Hollywood Boulevard in the downtown club district, Dylan with a computer hooked up to a speaker gathered yet another group of WOMEN in the courtyard of an apartment building. Again the night vibrated with music and the exploration of life through stanzas, tropes and rhymes.

the WOMEN group poetry reading, Hollywood, CA -2012

the WOMEN group poetry reading, Hollywood, CA -2012

Before each event Dylan takes the time to find the right spot to hang a banner with a simple statement written on the front; a banner that these musicians and artist flock too wherever it goes up; a slightly esoteric but highly enigmatic statement defining a movement by these artists to produce, perform and distribute literary work; a banner hung always in full view of the performing artists for the audience to see, giving a name to the wealth of work coming from contributors. It simply reads the WOMEN group.

So who is the WOMEN group, and what exactly is the WOMEN group? In its beginning stages the question of who might be harder to describe than the what. The group is a “collective of poets and writers” in Dylan’s own words that currently publish chapbooks and host poetry readings around Los Angeles. If you want the “what” of it then there you go.

Describing the WOMEN group while sitting down to dinner at a local Hollywood Thai restaurant (one of this writer’s personally favorite spots, insert add here for Hoy-Ka Thai Noodle), Dylan in personal terms added his reasons for starting the group.

“[To] Collect poetry really,” Dylan said in between bites of noodles in solemn tones. “I think a lot of people write and don’t get their shit out there, and right now I just try to collect poems. I try to motivate people to submit so I can do the footwork and get their shit out there. It’s basically my love for poetry, but also fear of good poetry not getting out.”

When L.A. the Blog caught up with them in Hollywood to experience and share some of our own poetry, the night unfolded with a variety of styles about a myriad of subjects. The poets with a microphone and speaker often fighting the helicopter and traffic sounds coming off the Hollywood streets read four to six poems covering topics from friendship and family to sex, drugs and relationships; backlit by the overhead incandescent and integrated compact fluorescent lights of the apartments entryway with a small crowd of 10 or 12 people mostly artists and writers themselves; in a loose open-mic format that encouraged battle-hardened open-mic veterans, and gave overwhelming support to newer voices who recently joined the group or stepped forward from the audience. After the WOMEN read, one audience member stepped up and called his mom in an inspired happening leaving a message on her voicemail about standing up to participate at a poetry reading, and another joined in with a reading of his favorite William Carlos Williams’ poems. To end the night an acoustic guitar came out.

Each event they hold allows for this open-mic format, but just showing up and performing doesn’t make you part of the group, nor do members of the group strictly write poetry. “I’ve been writing for years and fell into music,” said Dylan explaining his own interest and inspiration in forming the group. “Recently I’ve stopped playing and making music to make the main focus [about] the words.” Many members of the group have played in bands or currently play in bands, or they paint visual art along with writing, or a like this author who recently joined the group they blog random and insightful things about Los Angeles.

The diversity of the members along with such a burgeoning art and music scene in the Silver Lake / Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, and Dylan’s own use of the word “collective” it seems possible the group might bring together all the various types of art – music, painting, sculpture, performance, film, theater, fashion, dance – especially since each poetry event seems to incorporate other art.

According to Dylan though this ain’t the case and the WOMEN group is not to be confused. “That’s another collective,” he said facetious and playful. “We’re a poetry collective.”

“I’m calling from two years ago in a lawn chair, / Sunrise, and sleeping dragon flies / In a wooded clearing, sonorous with incessant / Buzz of cricket and swallows tweeting— / Tents lined up in tribal tee-pee circles. / We were the last alive on earth. – excerpt from a long distance phone call by Tom Kelly, the Women group, Issue 1

As for the actual “who” of the WOMEN group – it currently lists in their first publication and online at their blog eight poets as members, all mostly unknown writers including Dylan himself: Tom Kelly, The Little Red Writer (obviously a pseudonym or penname), Jessica Bloom, Michael Nhat, Honey Gal Nobuddy (another penname we guess), Lina Carol and Nicole Baudouin.

Since the publication’s inception over the summer of 2012 with the WOMEN group, Issue 1, just describing them as eight poets is somewhat erroneous as some recent buzz from the publication and the successive poetry readings swelled the ranks of contributors.

“You know we started off as eight, and now we’re maybe double or more than that,” Dylan said while discussing membership and joining the group. “I have a lot of friends that do music that do poetry that do art so I have been asking them to contribute, or at the poetry readings people that attend they’ve never heard of the collective [but] now because of the event they’ve heard of it, and you know it goes to print. I go to a lot of open mics to talk about it. Now that the WOMEN group, Issue 1, is at three different bookstores people that pick up a copy or just look at it and read it have all the info on how to contact us, and hopefully if they contact us there’s a meeting date or I tell them meet us at a coffee shop, a bookstore or an open mic, or one of the WOMEN group readings.”

For membership in the group this idea of “meeting” holds a great importance. At the moment members are people who have met one another at some point or have met Dylan, and in fact to join the group you must know or have met someone from the group.

“I met every single member in different areas of life, or different parts of L.A,” said Dylan. “Some I’ve known for a long time, for years even, and some I’ve just met. One of the poets I met once before adding her into the WOMEN group. She was just a waitress at a diner and saw that I was writing and we spoke about writing, and we both found out we’re both poets, and exchanged information about open mics around town, and she sent me an email with her poem and it was in.”

Dylan Doren reading at a WOMEN group gathering in Hollywood, CA - 2012

Dylan Doren reading at a WOMEN group gathering in Hollywood, CA – 2012

So unlike most poetry publications where anyone submits and if the editor enjoys the poem they publish it, the WOMEN group requires the added step of taking the time to meet another member, or Dylan at a coffee shop, bookstore or poetry reading. A writer still needs to submit and the current editor Dylan must choose the work for publication, but for Dylan it’s essential that members meet.

“It’s just a set rule to make it more intimate, the group,” Dylan said after a moment of thought.” We do support writers, and writers from all different areas but our collective is meeting on a personal basis, we don’t have to hang out all the time, we don’t have to hang out ever, but we have to meet another member at least once, and since the group is growing in numbers it will be a lot easier.”

“the anarchic decision one makes / to valiantly jettison sagacity / to venture over the edge / how it must feel to really let go / to severe the tether of consequence / leap into the euphoric unknown with an eagles wingspan / trusting that which might annihilate you / like a blindfolded high diver / without any confirmation the pool is filled with water” – excerpt from the difference between “master bating” and “masturbating” by The Little Red Writer, the Women group, Issue 1

It is obvious at this point that the collective is a mix of males and females. With the name such a misnomer for describing the poets, and with the poems in the first collection focused on everything and anything including women, men and everything else, it would be a mistake to attribute the name to a topic the group writes about. The group isn’t GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) either as far as this writer can tell though I am sure some members are, nor does the group promote women’s issues, and the group isn’t interested in your dad.

Like so many young people these days growing up in a single-family home with their mom, or the women who daily struggle for equal rights around the world, the name is a tribute to these women.

“Yeah, I look up to a lot of women most of all my mother, single mother, hard worker, seven days a week for many years,” said Dylan. “She’s just an inspiration. A lot of my closest friends – women. It’s just a statement that we’re making. At first I was even thinking of making the group anonymous, like maybe only using last names or covering our faces, but I don’t think that’s necessary.”

Anonymous in the hope of creating gender blindness when reading the chapbook, or when they perform at readings. Anonymous so when experiencing the poem you don’t immediately assume that a female or male wrote the piece. In that way your mind doesn’t automatically fall into stereotypes and assumptions that change the words on the page. A somewhat pointed reminder that sexism and gender inequality still exist.

“Hopefully having males take the name WOMEN in time will give a bit to women’s lib,” said Dylan. “Or at least erase that line drawn in the sand.”

Still the WOMEN group is best described in terms of poetry, and to get a sense of the poems you need to read them (we won’t waste our time with scansion and interpretation). They are poets who come together under the banner as writers. “Yes, I already know of two of us that are writing novels and one a short story,” Dylan said when asked about other forms of literature the group might explore. “I look forward to publishing their works. But right now the main focus is to gather the poets for these chapbooks.”

“Like poker I lost every hand / Trying to make apples into oranges / They say we weren’t alone / They gave me a chip it was black / They said welcome back / In the rooms I spoke of my last relapse” – excerpt from Dylan Doren reading live at the WOMEN group, Hollywood, CA (see video below).

It seems that literary groups rarely pick their own name, and more often get prescribed to a style of writing prevalent at the time, or like the Beat Generation their sobriquet comes from one person, in the above case Jack Kerouac, in an interview or perhaps in a letter to a friend, the name used with no intention of it defining a generation, but nonetheless becoming the historical moniker of their literary movement. New Journalism is another example of this happenstance naming of a literary movement, this time taken from the title of a publication that Tom Wolfe curated and disseminated. The Fireside Poets another example who gained their name from the popularity of their poems, or the Black Mountain Poets who mostly attended a college of the same name, and lets not forget the humorous Martian Poets (who? Wikipedia swears they exist?).

For the WOMEN poets living and traveling the streets of Los Angeles in the second decade of the 21st century, the choosing of a name harks back to an earlier time when modernism raged in the streets of Paris, and Virginia Wolf played pranks on the British government with her own group of writers. When writing and bookstores created a community of publishing uncontrolled by the juggernaut of corporate capitalism. Where places like San Francisco, and Oxford birthed new movements and classic epics.

“I began reading more and more, finding poets from past generations, reading their works and researching to find out all I could about them and their journeys,” said Dylan in an email, one of our first communications back and forth discussing this article. More specifically when asked his influences he said, “Just history, the past, all poets that came before us, mostly dead now but, well, that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to gather all the living poets right now, get them down on paper, put them all together.”

Every writer in some form or another is influenced by past generations, and Dylan’s ideas are no different steeped in the tradition of independent expression and the romanticism of the written word. For this reason the publication remains strictly in print, you can’t find any of the poetry online and each poet must submit an original work. In no form can the poetry be published before. Add to this every writer’s instinct is to compare the new generation with past generations to fit the new into categorical reference so they can more easily make sense of the plethoric past so to dismiss or elevate certain writers above others, the need to define this L.A. movement exists.

“It doesn’t really matter the genre,” said Dylan when pressed about the significance of the WOMEN group when compared to other literary movements like the Beats. “Hopefully the time period, the era, the collective is remembered. I don’t care what it ends up being called because that’s just a name.”

“I like using a word, it’s called ‘sonic,’” Dylan said when asked what he would like his own poetry called. “I got it from Sonic Youth my favorite band, but it’s a different word to describe beauty. Some people say cool, some people use a whole bunch of words, I use sonic. That’s when you know I really like something. Sonic as fuck.”

So maybe Dylan and the rest of the poets won’t be remembered at all as the WOMEN group, but instead in Dylan’s own words as “sonic” due partly to this article being published, at least my ego hopes (who wouldn’t want to be the naming catalyst of a literary movement?).

Just recently in late November like clockwork, one month later, the poets gathered again for another reading. This time at the house of a new member who will be featured in the second issue. At the reading early January was announced as the date for the next publication, the WOMEN group, Issue 2. There will be a reading and release party at Alais Books East in the heart of Atwater Village. Please check the WOMEN group website for further information.

UPDATE 04/12/13: Find below some video of poets performing in Hollywood. Also the WOMEN group issue 2 is out!

UPDATE 5/09/13: We removed the video, also the WOMEN group is releasing their third issue this weekend May 11, 2013, at Alias Books East in Atwater Village, 3163 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039, 7 p.m.

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L.A. the Blog Poetry: ‘Cover Letter’

Poster photographed on the corner of Grace Avenue and Franklin Avenue, in Hollywood, simply named “Pink Goats.”

To whom it may concern,

Educated and experienced with references.
Currently not working, a perfect fit with a
Strong skill set and all the necessary interpersonal
Technopacity, stuffed into file cabinets of first
Impressions labeled smiles and handshakes, and folded into
Organized years.

After a year of dedicated time spent interning
Within corporate walls within walls that
Subdivide halfway to the fluorescent sky,
With a lake view of mountain paradise
Flickering on the user-friendly Apple window of 1’s and 0’s,
In between data sets entered with 10 digits,
10 years later still interned with a new name:
Assistant.

Work hard like the tough get going,
Dedicated to hard work with abundant time
With a willingness for the above and beyond
Means always open and available, nights and
Weekends, in the hope for upwardly mobile
New identifications, advancing 401Ks and a parking spot
Personally surnamed.

Feel free to contact at anytime, thanks and hope all is well.

Sincerely,

The Unemployed

L.A. the Blog: Los Candiles Night Club – Decadence Welcome (A changing city, Part 1)

The night air left little doubt that summer sat and reigned over the city. On the streets of Hollywood women wore mini-skirts and guys short-sleeved shirts as they bar hopped, waited in line for night clubs and found the nearest tattoo parlor. The signature city heat that makes Los Angeles either a massive, sweltering discombobulation of people or a destination-dream-paradise cradled the city like a blanket, and added a frenzied pace to everything happening on the boulevard as if heat aiding the movement of mass multiplied and proliferated the various possibilities alive in the night. The mass – people, traffic, love, friendship, drinking, drugging, music, sex – everything.

This city is often like a slow blooming flower, every year unfolding a new petal, unveiling a new aspect of itself for anyone looking and discerning the cities beauty. Hollywood sits close to the heart, but numerous other areas and neighborhoods combine to create the rose that is Los Angeles, or maybe it resembles more a lily or a farewell-to-spring. Forget Hollywood for the moment. This story only starts in Hollywood with a ride into the dark-rising heat of the city streets, ending just on the other side of the L.A. river directly north of downtown in a small nondescript Latin nightclub named Los Candiles. Just for the purpose of translation, Los Candiles means “the candle.”

If asked where the club resides you might say Eagle Rock just because most wouldn’t recognize the name Glassell Park. Like so many working-class neighborhoods its history and uniqueness rest forgotten and ignored among a maze of similar streets with names like Desire, then further lost in a puzzle of similar cities and neighborhoods that all fit into a mold named America. Or perhaps with a history of violence and crime people looked more towards Eagle Rock or Atwater Village for homes, writing the neighborhood off as the bad side of town. Glassell Park – the bad side of Eagle Rock, the bad area of Atwater –  goes unmentioned. For instance the LA Weekly published a story about a crime family, an AK-47 and typical L.A. violence that belongs more to the late 80s and early 90s but happened in Glassell Park in 2008. Or just the other week while talking to a resident he simply stated in sterile terms how some kid recently got beat with a baseball bat, and June 12 of this year a young woman and young man died in a shooting. Violence makes neighborhoods disappear in this city like so much bad food in the refrigerator, people must discard it or the stench and mildew ruin the pleasure of modern society. For instance have you ever heard of the neighborhood of Del Rey?

Of course for the past 20 or 30 years (if not more) a majority of working-class families have called the neighborhood home, and only recently with the whole area of downtown including everything below and above experiencing a renaissance in every sense of the word, although some call it gentrification, the neighborhood has begun to see a shift towards the middle. With middle we mean demographically. Young professionals looking to buy good real estate and others just seeking a more authentic Los Angeles find the neighborhood perfect. With beautiful large homes atop hills that lead into Eagle Rock providing breathtaking views and hidden away in trees; or authentic and great Latin food available through street vendors; or even a sense of community that exists where people live and die together daily; the neighborhood offers a friendly hello at the local gas station, that is of course if you don’t mind a rougher handshake and a little dirt covering up a gem. A gem discovered and just starting to see the light.

Take Los Candiles, an unassuming Latin dance club that sits along a main drag in Glassell Park. You find these clubs all over the city. Some like the ones in Echo Park and Venice have been converted into new sleek dance venues for indie rock and electronic acts, but most in the city still keep their original flavor and offerings. At first look nothing out of the ordinary, but like the neighborhood this club is a gem. Scouring the online website gives the first hint that this club offers something unique with the traditional Latin dance music. “Venga y disfrute con nuestro show Fantasia con Las Estrellas” that loosely translates as “Come and enjoy our show / Fantasy with the Stars”; or later when you click the ‘show’ link in the menu sidebar “Ven y disfruta con nuestro travesty show Fantasia Con Las Estrellas” and the show Fantasy with the Stars comes up again, this time with the word “travesty” attached. Most people relate travesty to what happens during a war when innocent people die, but few relate the word to its original usage that is closer to “burlesque” than to “appalling.” In fact the Latin word “travestire” means to disguise or more literally to cover up with clothing; and travesty means a literary or artistic imitation usually incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter. Maybe it gets confused because it is so close to tragedy, or because people use the statement “travesty of justice” too often changing the meaning. So a travesty show? Call it what you will, but at Los Candides it means a drag show with singing, and don’t forget the male stripper and the DJ.

Burning through the hot night the road led through the up-and-coming neighborhood, to the unassuming Latin dance club and to a birthday party for an unknown girl with unknown people at an unknown place. The invite seemed strange at first, a phone call promised a party with a ton of women while at the same time offering a drag show. For some reason the two promises didn’t go together, I always equated drag with gay bars in West Hollywood, not straight woman celebrating a birthday in a working-class neighborhood. After learning more about Glassell Park the place even seems more unlikely since gang violence and the machismo of the hood normally make anything GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) unacceptable. Or even more so with a possible large Catholic population, you would think such a place harbors the ill will of the church. Regardless of its location and its stigma, for the ladies who arrived to the birthday it meant dancing to sweaty South American rhythms and letting loose in a place tingling with an open atmosphere that celebrates what it means to be beautiful and a women.

The local crowd loved the band playing, while the ladies loved every minute of every second. Every song brought out dancers, and the enthusiasm of the small local crowd showed they came for the music. The birthday girl found a dance partner for every song.  She often grabbed a friend, or a friend grabbed her, some of her guy friends followed the girls to the floor to dance with the birthday girl as tempos sped up and the band picked up energy.  A few times an older gentlemen, a veteran of Latin rhythm clubs would escort her to the floor and steal a few moments of youth back. Him and the other few older gentlemen masterfully controlled the dance floor leading their partners around in what from afar seemed slow rhythm combined with the quick turns and spins of ballroom dance. Looking more closely the majesty of what it takes to have that control and grace was tantamount to intricate and precise dance steps that happened quick and fast so the eye could barely follow the practiced patterns that flowed with ease. For these few gentlemen the smiles on their faces and sparkles in the eyes meant that whatever happened earlier in the day at work or home, and whatever happened tomorrow meant nothing in the moment of the dance. For some a cold beer and a shot of hard liquor washed away the day, the week and the years. For those weaving a spell with the Rumba or sweeping across the floor with a Cha Cha the dance gave them the same dignity along with the semblance of eternal youth.

The club wasn’t very packed but if everyone got on the floor room became sparse. This led to a perfect intimate spot for a birthday. As the women drank alcohol and their male friends did the same the atmosphere around the table slowly unwound becoming looser and looser. More alcohol, more drinking and finally the show started, the “travesty show Fantasia Con Las Estrellas.” Beautiful women dressed up as famous Latina stars, the most notable Shakira in gold and flowing blond hair. In true Burlesque and travesty, sexuality permeated the singing and dancing along with a hint of the more sultry tradition of strip clubs. Every so often a famous Latin singer would mount the lap of a gentleman in the crowd shaking her hips back and forth while continuing to lip sing to the radio hits.

After a few acts of famous latinas, they unleashed the male stripper onto the floor dressed in classic cowboy attire, chaps and all. He made his way around the room to the various women at the various tables, collecting dollars along the way, unzipping his fly for extra smiles and girlish embarrassment. At this point it might be worth skipping the entire rest of the episode for a stripper is a stripper. Hunter S. Thompson in “The Rum Diaries” writes this beautiful scene during the Carnival celebration where a beautiful woman dancing with a fabulous man gets drawn further and further into seduction as the tempo and rhythm of the Samba create an explosive sexual energy. If anything about the stripper at Los Candides, his pure sexual energy should be remembered. When tempted over to the birthday girl by dollar bills and innocent eyes, her friends put her up to experiencing first hand the show and his dancing while the alcohol made anything possible, words alone and even pictures fail to describe what happened next. Never has a female stripper ever performed that well for a man, and the question remains who was more surprised – the dancer for his own abandonment in the passion of the moment, or the birthday girl for her willingness to wear a cowboy hat and straddle his lap, chaps and all. The club gave them everything they needed for a memorable night of partying. Of course if they forget they can always refer back to L.A. the Blog and the pictures we posted online of our brief time at Los Candides. We hope the girls tipped their cowboy dancer extra for that one.

Los Candides and Glassell Park might never be the same with young people looking for new exciting and fantastic neighborhoods to live. We left the girls and their friends still drinking and partying. The DJ came on before as we walked out replacing the band and his opening track rocked like a Tijuana night club. Before getting in the car we grabbed tacos from a food stand down the street. One of the best burritos we have ever ate. Maybe year after year from this point forward the murder rate in Glassell Park will slowly become nonexistent, and like so much of the city that we grow up in the neighborhoods continue to change and become wealthier as the working class moves on. Local thrift shops become small boutiques, and development slowly brings large corporate chains. Maybe Los Candides will eventually host techno clubs and indie line-ups, but for now it remains a jewel of a good time … especially for the ladies.

UPDATED: Below find some video from Los Candides …

L.A. the Blog Poetry: ‘Friendship Lingers’

Pain lingers,
Friend,
Inside, Shown only
When lashing out speech
Destroys patient hope, or
Friendship’s gift, as if
Words burned angry scars
Upon the silence around us.

We die,
Alone,
In moments of
Denial about what we
Suffer from; it never came to
Light that alone mirrors
Twisted upon themselves take
Light and reflect back what
Is hated most –

It reflects back
What is you and what is me.

The truth,
Together,
We know:  You see me
I see you.  Only together, though,
Never any other time, never with
Family close, or love in the picture
Bringing soft stares from opposite
Here, as conversation moves time.

Like lies,
Words,
Hide the truth,
Confuse the issue, drag the
Doom beneath layers of
Pain – remember our doom?
It consumes like fire, but
Exists as phantoms, cold
Memories that strip life away –

And it never leaves,
For it is you and it is me.

It pauses,
Lessens,
Almost drifts away
Until raging it scars not
Just you, not just me.
You loved her, like I loved
Another, yet where
Are they now?  Consumed,
Spent, the memories smoke.

Alone again,
Friend,
Turning inward
We breath what’s left –
What we left for us
Becoming that very thing,
That same very thing
That haunts our sleep.

Pain lingers friends,
Inside you, and inside me.

—————————————————————————————————————

Dedicated to my friend Charlie (who wants to remain anonymous)

L.A. the Blog: ‘bright lights & fist fights’ Gallery Show; Next Stop ‘The Art of Coop’

Annie Preece

Annie Preece frames her own painting during the exhibition opening of ‘bright lights & fist fights’ group show at the Rebecca Molayem Gallery in West Hollywood – June 14, 2012

Is Los Angeles essential to the art world at large?  L.A. the Blog can’t answer that question but the scale of art happening in this city on a daily basis makes art essential to understanding Los Angeles.  A city dreamed up from behind a camera with an identity inextricably enmeshed with visual arts making it a tide pool of artists birthing pictures, stories, scenes, music, canvases, books, tunes, compositions, scripts, reality and fantasy; where often as not the creativity becomes harnessed in an art department for film, a stage setting for theater, or a gallery full of stunning visual art.

Better late than never the pictures have arrived!  Arrived for what (as the statement goes?), arrived for another round of art happening in the city of Angeles.

A three-person gallery show opened a few weeks back that spotlighted a diverse young group composed of a street artist, a tattoo wizard and a graphic artist who stepped into roles respectively as a painter, a caricaturist and a furniture sculptor.  At this point some analogy to the Wizard Of Oz keeps trying to escape but that would make this writer either Dorothy or Toto, and the only yellow brick road somewhere hidden along Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard.

The highlight of the show Annie Preece displayed her most recent paintings done in vivid, bright colors of contorted faces, haunted imagery and taboo subjects.  Her art is best described in the statement ‘having too much fun,’ with a mixture of recognizable and iconic images and symbols re-purposed with confrontation, dripping paint and intensity.  Yet as stated all of them rebalanced with the light atmosphere that reds, yellows and bright blues elicit emotionally.  Almost like the perpetual Los Angeles sunshine even makes suffering look happy.  The one painting in the show that is the exception to the bright colors comes from an early series of Annie’s work to a project of paintings, photographs and public art installations entitled ‘Persecution Takes A Holiday In L.A‘, that takes a critical look at the oppression of women in the Middle East.  This exception to the rule simply puts eyes staring from a black surrounding.  By the way Annie do you have any free artwork for us to decorate our headquarters?

Candice Molayem

A series of portrait caricatures by Candice Molayem from the show ‘bright lights and fist fights’ – June 14, 2012

Tattoo artist and painter Candice Molayem showcased a series of portraits keeping with the bright-color motif in classic caricature style.  With 1950’s hair-dos, thick rimmed glasses and jewelry-to-match the words ‘hip and cool’ rise from the dark recess of the subconscious and immediately yearnings for indie rock take over.  L.A. the Blog is curious if any persons posed for the paintings or if the inspiration came from classic comic books.

Jad Dovey

A naked lamp by artist Jad Dovey from the ‘bright lights and fist fights’ show – July 14, 2012

The final artist presenting at the show Jad Dovey subtly created lamps in a style you might expect to find at The Factory during the 1970’s and 80’s.  A wonderful use of color and the nude form, or maybe just ‘found’ mannequins and some electrical ingenuity Dovey created a post-pop art presentation that seemed so natural in the gallery they belonged more to the entire space and less to the name tag that marked them for display.

A fun event basking in the glow of a hot summer ahead, and art definitely worth visiting.  Please see a slideshow below of pictures from the show.  Included in the photos are other artists’ work showing and hanging in the gallery including artists Rebecca Molayem, Lynden St Victor and sculptures by Leon Leigh.  ‘bright lights and fist fights’ is now showing at Rebecca Molayem Gallery, 306 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048 for another few weeks, please check online for the current and future shows.

Portion of a painting done by Coop showing at his book release party – June 16, 2012

Moving right along into the week and arriving at our next stop where well-established artist and instigator Coop partied and celebrated in high fashion for the release of his new artbook entitled, ‘Idle Hands: The Art of Coop.’  So much has been said of Coop (click this link here), so to avoid mundane repetition, and pointless conjecture it is enough to say that even if you haven’t heard his name before you definitely have seen his art.  His images of devils, dames, drugs and cars make pop culture an afterthought and fine art an everyday accessible experience.  Mickey mouse gloves on a drug anyone?  If you can’t relate I am sure Walt Disney and Salvador Dali hanging out making pink elephants would.

Coop’s show took place at a great location in downtown Los Angeles hidden away in a produce distribution factory/building.  Industrial-scale loading elevator and all with a great view of a seedy downtown strip club made the entire experience some strange descent into Coop’s world.  Did we mention naked devil girls cruised the party?  Included in the slideshow below please find pictures from the event held at Studio Servitu, a downtown venue that the L.A. Weekly names the #4 essential location of 2011.

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L.A. the Blog: ‘Skaters Rule’ Artshow Echo Park

A variety of images adorn the wall paying tribute to skateboarding in the Bureau of Arts and Culture gallery in Echo Park mixing memorabilia with original art in a presentation simply thought of as ‘Skaters Rule.’

Southern California (all California even) spews and spawns skateboard and surf culture as if the constant sunshine keeps society from coagulating boys and girls into traditional sports like a hereditary hemophilia disorder. With skateboard culture comes the unique artwork that splashes T-shirts, adorns the bottom of skate decks, and fills the pages of magazines. Inspired and pulling from this plethora of creativity throughout the decades, local artists in Echo Park put together a gallery show of personalized skates, iconic collages and classic memorabilia.

The majority of the show consists of a variety of art styles hand painted or printed on the bottom of skateboard decks, from classic movies star images to the 70s-esque retro design of clean colorful lines against a background colorfield. This ‘bottom-deck’ (not to be mistaken for ‘low-brow’) creativity extended into an ambitious 3-D installation of a deck spinning from a chord attached to the roof, painted with a glossy enamel in glowing black-light colors (ultraviolet light included), showing the famous Natas SMA pentagram repeated from top-to-bottom, and includes 3-D glasses for added audience participation.

In another area of the gallery the back wall is dedicated strictly to skateboard history. From an old helmet to a great collection of vintage magazines and letters the viewer takes a trip down memory lane while paying homage to the legends who innovated the sport.

Last a small but favorite part of the gallery show includes traditional canvas and collage paintings that juxtaposes the art of skating with recognizable images that normally don’t mix. A Pac-Man ghost jumping on a deck, or an African native rolling through the Sahara on a board? Both these particular pieces of art you easily imagine on a modern skateboard, and might see someday in the future.

The Bureau of Art and Culture, located at 1282 W Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, CA 90026, presents ‘Skaters Rule’ through the month of June every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. Below find a slideshow of various pictures of the opening:

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L.A. the Blog: Graffiti Mural Vine and Hollywood

L.A. the Blog pays a quick respect to the combination of artists who created the graffiti mural on Vine Street just above Hollywood Boulevard.  As a fan of street art, the mural stretches down an alleyway-like go-between situated with The Lexington Social House restaurant on one side and the tall building where Dillon’s Irish Pub cohabits on the other.  The mural is well worth the visit if in the area.

The most noticeable and street-facing artwork was done by Anthony Lister who in the past held some very popular shows in Los Angeles galleries and is well-known worldwide.  In his classic style he painted two faces among the other artists’ murals that are best described as hauntingly beautiful.  With hard lines, subdued colors (even his use of pins seem dark) and the almost unfinished feel of sketches, the emotion in his work is palpable.  Lister you are invited to paint our office anytime.

We have a slideshow below where you can see the different street art along the walls, but catching our eye and of note was the end of the walkway done by West Coast Artists.  A great display of classic graffiti work, and if you click the link above taking you to Trixster’s website you can catch a video of them putting the mural together.

Other people who contributed to the wall were L.A.-based artist Evol (who painted two iconic faces along with Lister, and possibly one kitty …), and The Seventh Letter.  MSK also put up some artwork.  L.A. the Blog salutes everyone who put together such a visually appealing and classy display of art.  Well done.

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UPDATE:  We took this picture below around Normandie and Melrose (we think, our photographer seems to have it unlabled and a foggy memory of where he took the picture), and we are adding it to the mix for kicks.  If anyone can send us information on where it’s at, just leave a comment below.