Jim Bachor’s 2016 Pothole Art Installation ‘Pretty Trashed’

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Thanks to another successful Kickstarter campaign, Chicago artist, Jim Bachor has gotten started on his 2016 pothole art campaign.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Bachor has been delighting art blogs since 2014 when he decided to put a beautiful spin on the excess of damaging potholes left from brutal Chicago winters.

We’ve been impatiently waiting for the next theme to his well-received pothole art installations – the new series is called Pretty Trashed.  This first mosaic dropped is ‘Beer Can’.  It’s located on Montrose, just east of California on the south side of the street. Go see it Chicago – you lucky ducks. The rest of us will just have to live vicariously through Bachor’s Instagram feed.

It’s not our first time covering Bachor’s cute mosaic potholes. You can check out his past mosaic themes here:

POTHOLE ART PROJECT LAUNCHES NEW SERIES – TREATS IN THE STREETS!

CHICAGO ARTIST FILLS POTHOLES WITH AMAZING MOSAICS

 

*photos courtesy of Jim Bachor

Kristen Liu-Wong: Dueling Banjos

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We love Kristen Liu-Wong’s work. It’s always fresh and provocative not to mention, morbidly funny. Which is why we took a break from work today to surf her website in search of some new material.

Just so happened to stumble across this video she made, Dueling Banjos, ft. Jed and Lucas.

Enjoy.

Check out our last interview with Kristen here.

Resides: Brooklyn, NY

Work: Contemporary & Fiber

Links: Website/Tumblr/Instagram

The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Drew Leshko

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The Kids’ Eye is our new series where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera and a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing  journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 13.  Last summer she stumbled across Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko’s miniatures at a gallery exhibition.  Her first thought, “Can this really be art?” We assured her it was; she marveled at the possibilities of new mediums she could explore.  Daily Googling marathons turn into allowance fueled trips to craft stores – all efforts to see if she could create her own miniature stories.  When that stopped being enough, we called up Leshko to see if he’d be up for a studio visit.

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Tatianna: So how long does a regular piece take you to do?
Drew Leshko: Well, if we’re talking about buildings, that’s a long process. They take me anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of them. If we’re talking about other works, like the dumpsters – those are hard to quantify. They’re my relief when I’m spending two months working on a building, and it’s getting to the point where I want to rip my hair out because I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I take some time off and pull out a little sculpture because I can finish that relatively quickly.

I’ve talked to a lot of different artists and they like to do two pieces at once.
Totally, you have to.

Yeah, it just drives you insane if you don’t.
It keeps you moving at a reasonable rate if you’re trying to be productive, and I am.

Are all your sculptures like…Because I heard you do them from real places. Are they all in Philadelphia?
All the buildings are based on actual buildings in Philadelphia. I start with a photograph that I take and I work to get the main structure of the building. So I’ll get the photograph out and use it to generate all the important parts; like where the beam is, where the awning is going to plug into, where the basement entrance is. After I get the main bones of the building, I put the photograph away. I work off of memory at that point.
A lot of the work has that human element of memory. I’m only trying to make buildings that don’t have that much longer to live because once they’re gone
… They’re gone.

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Did you want to do sculptures of buildings when you first started out as an artist?
No, I made sculptures of water towers — a lot of them. I was making sculptures to become the subjects of photographs I was taking. So, in a gallery setting, there would be both photographs and sculptures.

The idea was to ask the viewer what was going on, essentially — Which came first? Is it a photograph that he’s recreating, or is it a photograph of something that he’s built?

So how did that lead you into buildings?
I moved here (Philadelphia) in 2007 and the environment really informed my work. I think many artists would say that. If you live in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, you might be painting trees and fall scenes with the changing leaves.

Yeah… Philadelphia is just full of art. It’s everywhere you look, from graffiti on. Street art is just everywhere.
So, a lot of it came from my environment. A lot of it came from older artwork projects that I admire. Walker Evans, I always speak about him. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to document life in the United States after the depression. He went around photographing all these down and out families in the South. He was photographing churches and creating essentially an archive of what was. It’s something real, you and I could go to the Library of Congress now and look at the slides and see portals into life. So, I can’t take photographs, I’m no good at that. I can’t paint…

I think I’m good at a little bit of everything. I can paint really well, I can draw really well, and I can take good photos.
(What you hear now is the ego of a 12-year-old, bearing the confidence that I wish I’d had at that age. Drew is being very patient. Wait, there’s more…)

I think I was born with an artistic side.
You could make a lot of money with those skills.

I think what I was saying; was in the same way that Walker Evans was trying to really capture a feeling and a time period in his project; I’m thinking about my work in the same kind of way.
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Well, if you had to do something different than building your sculptures and your dumpster and your RVs and your water towers, what would you think your options would be?
That’s a tough one.

I am tough – I like it. I want to know everything.
I don’t know if I can answer that. The campers are relatively new for me, I’ve only been working on them for about 2 months. I still have a lot to see through with this project. I plan on having 40 of them.

40? (Astonished)
Not to all be installed at the same place, at the same time.
I’m really interested in artists that pursue serious works, not like an artist that has four paintings and that’s his series – that’s not for me. I want to go over the top until people think it’s totally nuts.

The signs that you put on your buildings, do you copy them and just cut and paste them on?
Some of them I just Google. Most of the time I photograph them on the street, resize them in Photoshop and then I print them out.

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Have you ever thought about teaming up with another artist?
I thought about it, and a lot of people have approached me.

It would be cool if you got that girl who does the Urban Geodes, you know, to put miniature geodes in the bricks of your buildings.
Oh, you mean Paige.
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So what is your favorite piece to create? Is it the buildings, the water towers, the dumpsters or the campers?
I’m really in love with the RV’s right now.

Yeah, they’re neat, I really like them. Have you ever thought about making cars?
I’ve thought about doing some vehicles, but my work is mainly about the temporary relationships we have with things

Like things that aren’t going to be here in 10 or 20 years.
Right. So the buildings…It’s really obvious that they’re not going to be here after a while. For the campers’, maybe the thing that’s not going to be there is their natural environment – like the destinations that you’re traveling to. I think things are shifting in our culture, our ideas about leisure activities.

When I was growing up, my parents had a really crummy Motorhome, and my grandparents had one of these pull behind trailers. We would drive from Baltimore (where I was born) two hours away to the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And we would go to the campgrounds and spend the weekend there. It’s something that I really look back on fondly. It’s a feeling of nostalgia… I think that it’s something people aren’t doing anymore for whatever reason. There’s definitely a new resurgence of camping. There are designer camping shops popping up, but still as a culture, I think something has shifted. I don’t know if I’m right, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about while doing this work.
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Is it hard working at home? You have a TV down here and the studio space is next to the kitchen – do you get distracted? Do you have any hobbies?
I like to ride bikes but haven’t been able to get around doing that lately.

Anything else? Like learning a new language? You should learn a new language because you’ll need it to open new doors.
You’re right. I should learn German – I’m showing a piece in Berlin soon.

I’m going to learn French. And then I’ll take a trip to Paris.

 

Leskho’s current exhibition Home Is Where Your Park It opens February 26, 2016

Opening Reception
Friday, February 26th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, March 25th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Hours
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays • 12:00pm – 6:00pm
And 7 days a week by appointment: info@paradigm-gallery.com / (267)266-0073

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

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E is for Eckman-Lawn — Alex Eckman-Lawn

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This is Alex Eckman-Lawn’s bio… “Alex Eckman-Lawn is a Philadelphia born illustrator who lives in the gutter and sleeps in the sewer. His work has appeared in comic books, on album covers, book covers, T-shirts, music videos, and posters. He is currently hard at work trying to burn his name into the ground and pull the sun out of the sky.”

Yup, he is that freaking cool.

No matter what medium he’s working with, it’s trademarked with complicated dark overtures layered in emotion. Our personal favorite — his contemporary framed cut paper collage pieces, each layer stacked upon another create a dense narrative that unveils a story slowly being released to the viewer.

At first glance, the narratives of his work seems peppered with themes of loneliness and fear — but the graceful shafts of light and placement of color betray a sense of hope and redemption.  It’s not hard to see the painstaking care and finesse layered in his pieces – so exacting in trying to maintain a compulsive control over chaotic worlds.

Check out the video below to see Eckman-Lawn discuss his process.

Alex Eckman-Lawn on Social Media
Website/Instagram / Tumblr

Alex’s work appears in the following comics:
Awakening Volumes 1 and 2, Popgun volume 4 (Rusted: Faded Signal), Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard (Leviathan), The Graphic Canon Vol.1 (Forgive Us Our Trespasses), and Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. He is working on an all-ages adventure book called Thanatos Diver right now.

Matthew Grabelsky and his Concrete Jungles

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Call of the wild in a concrete jungle.  Or maybe, it’s the wild side of the urban dweller unleashed in these Matthew Grabelsky oil paintings that I can’t stop smiling at.

Maybe it’s the name of the paintings that grab me.  Most of his works are named after New York City Train Line destinations (Exit at Union Square, 1 to Penn Station).  His subway riders show off in contemporary settings, playfully executing everyday stances that make the paintings seem less fantasy and more realistic.  There’s no separation in the ease of the female subjects as they cozy up to their confident counter parts of a beastly nature. Mixing the physical world and it’s attributes to the beast within makes for an interesting look at your next commute.

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D is for Drew Leshko

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Artist, Drew Leshko’s take on capturing the commentary concerning neighborhood gentrification is to architecturally document the buildings in his Philadelphia neighborhood. His scaled-down, wall hanging, three-dimensional sculptures take weeks of carving, cutting, and layering varieties of paper and wood.

The painstaking attention to detail on these miniature replicas immerses the viewer in a storytelling that romanticizes the buildings flirting with decay or verging on redevelopment, presenting a feel of nostalgia – an unstated narrative where the art becomes a tangible form of a society’s appetite for change.

 

Link up with the artist – Instagram

Genre: sculpture artist

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C is for Conor Harrington

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UK based street artist, Conor Harrington envisions the historical with street art styling, producing hypermodern murals that toss you right into the fray. His over-sized dramatic figures, regally attired in tattered historical garb loom over the viewer, poised in the throes of epic fights fought out on the side of buildings and city walls. Each scene drips with a sense of visceral urgency, bringing life to these amazing oil painting mimics.

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Like most recorded history, it’s all mapped out and planned before its written down. Scenes are staged like large-scale compositions and photographed in the studio before they’re executed outside.  Oil paintings from the days of our forefathers never looked like this. But if there was some Colonial Fight Club action taking place, chances are, it went down like this.

Watch it evolve:

Link up: Conor Harrington Website / Instagram @conorsaysboom

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Genre: Street Art

Embroidered Vintage Rackets

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Well, our old tennis rackets are simply hanging out in boxes, pushed away into dark corners of our basement closets. Meanwhile, Cape Town-based designer and embroidery artist, Danielle Clough uses them to frame off vibrant embroidered flowers.   Her series, What a Racket features brightly colored wool flowers weaved between the delicate threading of old badminton and tennis rackets.

Rackets aren’t the only things she’s been embroidering, check out her website to see her other fiber art projects.

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Where Literary Meets Art: The Paper Sculptures of Su Blackwell

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In the spaces where literary meets art, UK based artist, Su Blackwell transforms words from the page to tangible manifestations of imagination.  The Paper Sculptures of Su Blackwell enchantingly capture the essence of a story, turning them into dizzying tales of deconstructed lore artfully reconstructed as a thing of childlike beauty. Under her hands, she brings to life beloved stories – transforming them into fragile ephemeral whims that make you want to inhabit these places.

“I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional diorama’s, and displaying them inside wooden boxes. For the cut out illustrations, I tend to lean towards young-girl characters, placing them in haunting, fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and choice of subtle color.”

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Take some time and check out her installation work as well.

Links & 1 Charming Video: Su Blackwell Website

B is for Boy Kong

Boy Kong Mural

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B is for Boy Kong.  We caught Boy Kong’s work a few years ago during Armory Week, at the Fountain Art Fair and developed an instant connect.  Since then, we’ve been enjoying his stylized show pieces – they are vibrant, collaged images in motion that emote enough energy to taunt a viewer into standing there long enough to catch the moment they break free of the framing.

Boy Kong jumps around from painting, to illustrating, to muralist, but his gallery pieces are our favorites.  You’re just as likely to see a piece at a show or on the street – a double treat. 

Until then, you can check out his work by following these links:  Instagram: @BOYKONG Facebook: BOY KONG

Genre: Contemporary Art

A is for ANDREA HEIMER

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Poplar Street Was Like A Dozen Others To The East Or West Of It And Friday Nights Looked Like This,  10 PM Parents Bedroom Light Goes Out Girls Room Lights Stay On 11 PM Boys At The Window Hand Over Fists 

 

A is for Andrea Heimer, whose incredibly detailed paintings are humorously dark, undressing the normal white-picket fence facade of her suburban upbringing in a perverse and yet strangely appealing way.

Don’t Miss: Her paintings’ long titles that read like opening lines of a David Sedaris essay.

Check out our first chat with Heimer here on hahamag.com and then go on to discover more:

Website – Andrea Heimer Instagram

Genre: Outsider Art

NEON CRIME SCENES OF KRISTEN M. LIU

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Resides: Brooklyn, NY

Work: Contemporary & Fiber

Links: Website/Tumblr/Instagram

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I’ve been a fan since my first stumble into the messed up world of artist Kristen M. Liu. Liu makes you feel like you’re harboring a morbid sense of humor gone bad — her scenes are oddly funny, detailed in paint colors that I pray come in packs called ‘Highlighters gone to the Dark Side’.

Venture further into the mayhem and join us mid chat…

 

You have a wonderfully morbid sense of humor — artistically, it’s such a defining part of your signature style. It’s this cool blend of generational influences – a 70’s sort of tiki color palette with a 90’s underground comics/zines vibe. That’s what I see, but what styles or artists are you influenced by?

Thanks! I love that you see tiki-influences in my work. In terms of “style” (referring to how I draw, use pattern, etc.) I really love to look at American folk art in addition to the obvious cartoon and comic influences.

My mom was a textile major so she always brought us to craft exhibits. I grew up looking at Gee’s Bend quilts, Grandma Moses paintings, Native American pottery and weavings, the list could go on forever.

I love the graphic quality of work from artists like Alex Katz and David Hockney. More contemporary artists like Clare Rojas and Margaret Kilgallen are also HUGE inspirations. The first time I saw their work I knew I wanted to make paintings that could be even a fraction as visually impactful. And of course, a shout-out to my favorite artist in high school, Salvador Dali. Even though I’ve obviously strayed off course from his aesthetic approach, his work, along with all the other Surrealists I copied in my teenage years, will always continue to influence me conceptually.

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Talking about aesthetics, I noticed you’ve been working with the same color palette for quite some time. It catches your eye immediately and lures you in. What colors are your staples? Why those particular colors?

Well I cycle through what colors will be dominant in my works but I always tend to go for hot pinks and pale mints (even if there are just touches of it). I grew up with a lot of Polly Pocket so you can blame that.

I read somewhere that you coat your pieces with resin once they are done – first off, expensive process – but the resin gives the pieces such a effortlessly hazy effect, which I think is perfect for the imagery. It’s like waking up in a glossy dreamlike state and witnessing something that perhaps you wish you’d hadn’t seen…that’s a lie. You make those florescent murder scenes so bait worthy, I’d always want to open that door to mayhem and take another peek. How did the process of coating your paintings in resin come about? And is that ‘out of body’ – outside looking in perspective created intentionally?

I actually got the idea to coat my pieces from my professor, Kenichi Hoshine (who is an AMAZING artist btw and also one of the coolest dudes out there). I liked the way it looked so much the first time, that I’ve been using resin ever since. Since I flat paint, it smoothes everything out and gives it a really nice finished quality. It also helps the neon colors glow- if you ever see my pieces in person you’ll understand why I use resin!

And yes, I intentionally want to have a very voyeuristic feeling in my work. I watch a lot of bad crime shows and I’ve always been terrified of the idea of someone stalking me so I try to recreate that creepy sensation. Also, sometimes don’t you just feel like you’re looking at your own life and everything is happening separately from you? It’s interesting, it makes you feel completely detached and scared and as quickly as you noticed it, it’s gone and you’re just being paranoid.

Yet those aspects of voyeurism combined with the overt sexuality and non-threatening color palette really draw you into to this curious feeling of sensuousness as the scenes play out the violence in almost a casual after-the-fact way. What’s the story behind your consistent theme of chaos and mayhem?

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As I mentioned earlier, I watch a lot of crime tv. I’ve always been fascinated by violence, not only from personal experiences with it but because mankind’s potential to do great evil is so interesting to me conceptually too. We’re all capable of really great things and also really terrible things and because I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person I’m more interested in exploring that aspect of our natures. It’s just a fact that people can be really shitty at times (and I’m no exception) so even though I paint all these terrible things I always want the people to have slightly blasé reactions to all of the horror around them.

Oh, please don’t leave out the sex that is sometimes happening in the midst of murder. To which I guess is a great transition into the nudity that exist in these mini stories. I noticed that the sex isn’t always the center of the story, the nudity is sometimes just the state they’re in.

A few reasons I paint naked people a lot. First reason- it’s fun! I love to paint boobs and butts and dicks! They’re really funny and the human body is so interesting to look at that I can’t help myself. Another reason I use a lot of nudity is because it can enhance a figure’s sense of vulnerability or empowerment, depending on how they are posed. Also by making a figure nude in a situation where it is unusual for them to be naked helps add to the surreal quality of their environment.

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A lot of that happens in your sketchbook – which is pretty amazing. I really like that in addition to posting your paintings online, you often share your sketchbook drawings. Does the process start there and then move over to the paintings? Or are they separate beasts?

They’re usually pretty separate. I actually only started keeping a sketchbook after I graduated because I knew I would get obsessive about making it look “right” but since getting one, I really appreciate it as a place to just do stupid, fun drawings where I don’t have to worry about whether or not something is good enough since it’s just for me.

You’re amazing fiber artists as well – how does that fit into your shows?

Unfortunately it hasn’t factored too much into my shows :( Since I’ve graduated, I have a lot less time to experiment and since galleries primarily want paintings all my spare time is spent doing that. I have a day job so I only have time to work on art weeknights and weekends so yeah my social life can get pretty dead. I’m hoping to eventually get more time to really play around with different mediums so we’ll see!