Tuesday, 22 February 2011 13:21 Written by Daniel Rolnik
Wasn't going to write an intro for Ron English because if you're here at Fecal Face you should already be well aware of this iconic artist. If you need to know, read his bio below.
Thanks to Daniel Rolnik (danielrolnik[at]@gmail.com) for conducting this great interview for Fecal Face.
One of the most prolific and recognizable artists alive today, Ron English has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images, on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television. English coined the term POPaganda to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, populated with his vast and constantly growing arsenal of original characters, including MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in the hit movie “Supersize Me,” and Abraham Obama, the fusion of America’s 16th and 44th Presidents, an image widely discussed in the media as directly impacting the 2008 election. Other characters carousing through English’s art, in paintings, billboards, and sculpture include three-eyed rabbits, udderly delicious cowgirls and grinning skulls, blending stunning visuals with the bitingly humorous undertones of America’s Premier Pop Iconoclast.
How do you teach yourself other artist’s techniques?
Trial and error. I had a gig painting landscapes a long time ago at one of those production houses where they taught me a lot of techniques. I also worked for a few different artists, so I had to learn how to mimic their styles.
What artists did you work for?
I did some paintings for Rohhny Decone, Larry Rivers, Marcus Darvy. When I first moved to New York in the 80’s I was a ghost painter. Yeah, it’s a good job to work and you get paid.
Was it frustrating to be a ghost painter because people wouldn’t actually know it was you who was the painter?
Oh yeah. It’s funny because I always get what I wish for, but it’s kind of like the old genie in a bottle thing – I wish that I could have people see all my paintings and the paintings I would make [for those artists] would end up in museums, it’s true. I always forgot to ask “could I sign them” but it’s not really your thing. It’s like if you go on tour with the Rolling Stones and you’re the bass player, you’re not really in the band and you don’t think you’re in the band –maybe after 30 years or so you think you’re in the band like Ron Wood [guitar]. It’s funny because it’s someone else’s art, they’ve built their own language, and if you went to art school there’s a certain amount of that stuff that you can just do. Their art was more about their concepts and I did it because I wanted to learn a lot of techniques.
Would you purposefully choose to work with certain painters whose style your wanted to learn?
Well Mark was probably the ultimate situation because initially there were only 3 other painters working with me, but later there were like 40. Guys were coming in from Russia and Poland, people who were trained as master painters and knew all the technique. And even from day one Clark Decarro was a classically trained painter from Canada, so he showed me how to make glazes, but it’s interesting to do something with someone sitting right next to you and where you can say “Why is this not working” and they’ll be respond by saying “here’s what you’re doing wrong”. They’re all there with you and I think that’s the best learning environment - when you can’t overcome something and there’s someone to show you how to do it right there. There are always bumps in the road, eventually you can figure it out on your own, you can read books, there are a lot of things you can do. If you want to get somewhere you’re going to get there, but it’s always nice to have a set of directions.
Do you have assistants help you with your paintings?
I have two assistants. One assistant comes in one day a week and stretches the canvasses and the other guy pretty much does everything - like all those weird houses with the comics all over them that are in the paintings. He puts together the houses and then puts the comic book collages on them and then he’ll set up the shot. When we were at Art Basil last week painting a big mural he took lined up and shook all the spray paint.
It’s kind of like being a surgeon and saying “Hooker Green ASAP” it really allows you to move like a motherfucker because you just reach your hand out and somebody’s putting whatever you’re asking for in your hand instead of you having to find it and shake it.
I mean all that time it takes to do that stuff slows us down and the fact that they are doing all that for us is just amazing.
Do you do anything to your spray paint cans to get them to behave in a certain way?
Sometimes they put too much pressure in the cans, so you turn them upside down and relieve some of the pressure. If you turn them upside down it just sprays, it doesn’t release the paint. And, as soon as you’re done spray painting you turn the can upside down so paint wont dry in the tip and ruin it. It’s also good if you want to do fine lines to make the pressure [in the can] super low. You never quit learning, you just don’t.
Do you read books on new painting techniques?
One of my friends learned a lot of his techniques from reading books, but I’m just not much of a reader.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 11:48 Written by Manuel Bello
More then once I have found myself running around New York City with this crazy kid calling himself Gaia. It is usually by the time documenting has taken the jump seat to the nights off handed antics. Never the less-> when Andrew hit me up with a solid photo batch of his latest street adventure down in his own neck of the woods I was more then eager to send them off to pasture.
This Big Cock is located on Howard St. in Baltimore. The image is a rooster messenger cradling the head of St. John as depicted by Guido Reni. My question to you Sir Gaia, "How can you depict such and image, knowing the Blackest Sabbath is coming for you?" Yeah, it is one of those had to be there moments. Regardless, have a look as Gaia is an incredible illustrator that just happens to play in the streets. -Manuel Bello
We met a young skater named Charles Martin, an interesting guy studying at SFAI, through our friend Henry Gunderson. Charles would stop in the gallery from time to time, and the last time he came through he told us he was off to NYC to study at Cooper Union where his brother also studys. Getting into Cooper Union is no small feat. They're one of the most selective schools in the U.S. Well known for their art and science programs, C.U. admits students based on merit alone and provides each with a full-tuition scholarship. A FREE top rate highly demanding education.
Into his first year at Cooper Union we wanted to see what Charles was working on and know how he was handling the big city and the school's heavy demands.
Charles in his studio space.
How is Cooper Union going? Is it as tough as people have said?
We get a lot of homework; we have a lot of classes. Most of our time goes to school. The toughest part for me has been time management which is a large part of what it seems we’re supposed to learn in this first year. People who can’t keep up get the boot. There are a lot of distractions in Manhattan, that if you can fall victim to, it only makes it harder. I heard some things before coming here that proved to be complete lies in my situation. It gets really nerve wrecking at times, but no pain, no gain.
You're a Bay Area guy. How is the Big Apple treating you?
It’s a lot different than San Francisco. If I could change one thing it would be the winter. I grew up in Buffalo, NY so I’m pretty accustomed to snow, maybe even TOO accustomed to the snow; me and old man winter have a love hate relationship. New York has been really overwhelming, but I am definitely enjoying myself.
Besides schoolwork, what have you been up to?
This semester I have less foundation classes so I’ve been able to paint a lot more. From January fourth to 18th was winter break, so the school was open but NO ONE was here. It was AWESOME I just got to come to my studio everyday and make work, no assignments. I’ve been reading about black history and other radical organizations that make it their business to fight whatever injustices they face. I also have a book about Einstein and a couple of memoirs. When I can I work on my apartment. I just got some rolls of film, and I found out that my school has a color processor, so I'm going to check that out. There’s a yoga studio really close that I've been trying to take advantage of.
Portland based photographer and fisherman himself (Corey's starred on the popular show Deadliest Catch), Corey Arnold, has been traveling the world documenting the world's fisherman since 2002. His show at FFDG will features a selection of photos featured in his new book, Fish-Work, Published by Nazraeli Press 2010.
Ignacio Murua lives and works in Santiago de Chile and Brooklyn, NY...
He is inspired the Chilean yellow press newspapers that publish images of ideal female bodies as the "women of the week." What the popular culture esteems as perfection, Murua translates as uncomfortable and grotesque. By its denial of the familiar, flawed (normal) body, such perfection is encountered as a deformity. Murua uses a unique process of "painting without using paint" to contrast the disturbingly artificial perfection with smeared and dripping strokes. He works quickly to manipulate the wet pigment of a freshly printed photograph, causing the very substance of the image to be distorted, obscured, erased, or washed away. Remaining is a blurred silhouette, the suggestion of a posture that replaces individual identity. In a global society preoccupied with age and beauty, the work of Ignacio Murua disregards time, wiping out both perfection and its potential for decay.
I'm not sure how many people are lucky enough to have The San Francisco Giants 3 World Series trophies put on display at their work for the company's employees to enjoy during their lunch break, but that's what happened the other day at Deluxe. So great.
SF skateboarding icons Jake Phelps, Mickey Reyes, and Tommy Guerrero with the 3 SF Giants World Series Trophies
When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes “creative” and everybody “a creative,” then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So “art” itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which—unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life—is nothing much to mourn.
Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it? --continue reading
"Six Degrees" opens tonight, Friday Jan 16th (7-10pm) at FFDG in San Francisco. ~Group show featuring: Brett Amory, John Felix Arnold III, Mario Ayala, Mariel Bayona, Ryan Beavers, Jud Bergeron, Chris Burch, Ryan De La Hoz, Martin Machado, Jess Mudgett, Meryl Pataky, Lucien Shapiro, Mike Shine, Minka Sicklinger, Nicomi Nix Turner, and Alex Ziv.
"[Satire] is important because it brings out the flaws we all have and throws them up on the screen of another person," said Turner. “How they react sort of shows how important that really is.” Later, he added, "Charlie took a hit for everybody." -read on
Jacob Magraw will be showing embroidery pieces on cloth along with painted, gouache works on paper --- Rachell Sumpter paints scenes of colored splendor dropped into scenes of desolate wilderness. ~show details
NYC --- A new graffiti abatement program put forth by the police commissioner has beat cops carrying cans of spray paint to fill in and cover graffiti artists work in an effort to clean up the city --> Many cops are thinking it's a waste of resources, but we're waiting to see someone make a project of it. Maybe instructions for the cops on where to fill-in?
The NYPD is arming its cops with cans of spray paint and giving them art-class-style lessons to tackle the scourge of urban graffiti, The Post has learned.
Shootings are on the rise across the city, but the directive from Police Headquarters is to hunt down street art and cover it with black, red and white spray paint, sources said... READ ON
SAN FRANCISCO --- The Headlands Center for the Arts is preparing for their largest fundraiser of the year set to go down on June 4th at SOMArts here in the city. Art auction, food, drinks, live music, etc and all for helping to support a great institution up in the Marin Headlands. ~details
ABOUT HEADLANDS Headlands Center for the Arts provides an unparalleled environment for the creative process and the development of new work and ideas. Through a range of programs for artists and the public, we offer opportunities for reflection, dialogue, and exchange that build understanding and appreciation for the role of art in society.
We haven't been featuring many interviews as of late. Let's change that up as we check in with a few local San Francisco artists like Kevin Earl Taylor here whom we studio visited back in 2009 (PHOTOS & VIDEO). It's been awhile, Kevin...
If you like guns and boobs, head on over to the Shooting Gallery; just don't expect the work to be all cheap ploys and hot chicks. With Make Stuff by Peter Gronquist (Portland) in the main space and Morgan Slade's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the project space, there is plenty spectacle to be had, but if you look just beyond it, you might actually get something out of the shows.
Fifty24SF opened Street Anatomy, a new solo show by Austrian artist Nychos a week ago last Friday night. He's been steadily filling our city with murals over the last year, with one downtown on Geary St. last summer, and new ones both in the Haight and in Oakland within the last few weeks, but it was really great to see his work up close and in such detail.
Congrats on our buddies at Needles and Pens on being open and rad for 11 years now. Mission Local did this little short video featuring Breezy giving a little heads up on what Needles and Pens is all about.
Matt Wagner recently emailed over some photos from The Hellion Gallery in Tokyo, who recently put together a show with AJ Fosik (Portland) called Beast From a Foreign Land. The gallery gave twelve of Fosik's sculptures to twelve Japanese artists (including Hiro Kurata who is currently showing in our group show Salt the Skies) to paint, burn, or build upon.
Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.
San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.
Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.
Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.
The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.
With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding
I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle
Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.
Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.
For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.
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