The actor on duplicity and famosity (and saving a painting) in the latest Blank on Blank.
Tomorrow (2/14) is the last day to see artist Sam Friedman’s ambitious solo show “Happy Places” at Joshua Liner Gallery in NYC. We caught up with him last night over text message to talk about all things enjoyable.
Beaches, sunsets, lobsters, bongs, legs. These are your happy places?
Pretty much. They’re some of the things in life to enjoy.
They all go hand in hand. Can you tell me about the Great Wall of Happy. There’s 50 pieces there. What was the process like to create them?
I worked on all of them at one time. They were all laid out on a wall of my studio, while I was painting them, in a way similar to the way they were hung in the gallery. I liked the way they look on the wall hanging as one unit, but each piece is definitely its own painting.
How many jars of paint do you think you used?
Ha ha Ha ha ha… Honestly, I don’t even have a ballpark idea.
Do you ever see a difference in your subject matter depending on the season?
Yeah. I guess a happy place is an all the time thing.
Maybe that’s the goal?
Definitely, it’s my goal in life. Can you talk briefly about the composition of your work? With the exception of the large painting in the back, the subjects are cropped. Is there a way you plan this or is it spontaneous?
Yeah, they are loosely planned out by doing small compositional drawings on file cards. The drawings are usually nothing more than a few lines and a circle.
So what’s next for you? More happy places?
I’ve got some new painting themes that I am working on, but they are top secret.
Brooklyn-based artist Taylor McKimens currently has a show up in Chelsea that focuses solely on artwork that has been commissioned since 2008 by Canadian super-collector Paul Bright. Here we talk with Taylor about his relationship with Paul, the work itself, and what’s been going on the past 7 years.
How did you and Paul Bright meet?
We met at an art opening in Chelsea maybe around 2005 or so. I think we may have talked by email before but after that opening was the first time we ever really started hanging out. He ended up opening a gallery in his hometown of London, Ontario and I used to show there along with Ben Jones, Barry McGee, Misaki Kawai, Matt Leines, Dearraindrop and a lot of other really great artists. I moved up there for a year too around 2007. It was a really interesting place and time.
What was your first commission?
I can’t exactly remember the first but one of the first was a group of plant sculptures that he had me make for some of his furniture friends in Toronto in exchange for a year’s rent on a house in London. That was during the time that the economy tanked and my NY gallery at that time (Clementine Gallery) closed for good.
How many pieces have made so far? Is there any process or do you have free reign?
I was surprised getting this show together how many pieces have been commissioned or bought by Paul. I can’t exactly say what a number would be. It’s all been very unofficial. He’s really believed in the work and has been a constant supporter through this time when the popularity of slacker abstraction or whatever it’s being called has been booming. A lot of boring artists who normally struggle with the process of making art found it easy to crank out “conceptual” process based artwork to supply the hungry art market for an easy payoff and some sense of quick success. All the while galleries’ art fair booths and show calendars have pandered to all the easy money leaving a lot of genuinely exceptional artists struggling financially. I can’t blame them for doing what they have to do to keep the lights on, but few people like Paul have held steadfast in their support for artists they believe in without regard for temporary trends. I’ve been lucky to have his support really. He’s never pushed to alter or restrict what I make. He requested that the two large paintings in this show be a type of diptych or pair with some sort of connection. I think it’s a loose reference for him to the pair of Dance paintings commissioned of his favorite artist Matisse by Sergei Shchukin.
Bam Margera gets interviewed on this innovative program.
We interview Brooklyn-based artist Tessa Perutz about Massif Central, a company she founded that produces a line of contemporary art scarves featuring artists such as Tal R, Jonas Wood, Keegan McHargue, and Joshua Abelow.
When/Why did you start Massif Central?
MC was officially launched in April 2014 but it had been a work in progress for a year before that. I have always been interested in the artist’s relationship to society’s common landscape (ie: fashion, urban design, furniture, etc). I wanted to ask artists to reflect upon their 2-D practice and envision their works in a more fluid manner, specifically in relation to adorning the body. I wanted to give a real physical and tactile space for these wonderful works of art to exist. We are so privileged in modern society to be able to see and experience such phenomenal art up close, but we are almost never physically involved in the works, especially paintings. I wanted to get as close to that experience as possible, actually “feeling” these works.
Just some guy who wants to be a “super hero” so he can wear the costume and reap the benefits of seeming important while doing as little work as possible. Pretty much the prototypical modern American male.
Where did he get his powers from?
He doesn’t really have any powers. If it appears like he does it’s probably because he’s dreaming.
Well then, in his dreams, what does he use his powers for?
Getting what he wants (beer, girls, chicken nuggets, whatever).
Does Whatever Man have any enemies?
I think there are a couple guys in the comic who follow the super villain trope, but they’re featured more as vignettes and don’t really interact with WM. If they do happen to cross paths they’re almost always victorious because Whatever Man sorta sucks at combat.
Who knows about Whatever Man?
Like his actual identity? Everyone, he can’t be bothered to wear a mask.
What happens next?
He tries to get a publishing deal and eventually optioned for a cartoon series or full-length feature that flops. Or just a free beer at the very least.
photo by Clément Pascal
By the time you read this, Wayne White’s Invisible Ruler will be closed. The exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery was Wayne’s return to NYC, and an outstanding success. Earlier this week, we caught up with Wayne in Los Angeles and proceeded to talk about life, art, and his life in art.
TWBE: Let’s start from the beginning. You grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when did you first discover art?
Wayne White: That’s a tough question. I guess I discovered art in drawing, and that’s one of my earliest memories. I discovered drawing just on my own as every kid does. I didn’t know it was called art and I didn’t really know what an artist was for a long time. There were no galleries or museums or any culture around when I was kid at that time. I came to it naturally from just a love of drawing and of course as I grew I learned about art history and artists and everything. My mother was where I got my biggest influence from. She was the artistic one in the family and loved to decorate, collect antiques and stuff. So she knew a little bit about art. When I was a little bitty kid I remember her saying, “Well Wayne could be a commercial artist one day.” She’d say that to adults, I overheard her because she didn’t say it directly to me. I would sit there as a little kid and I would imagine an artist that comes on between TV shows on the commercial and he’s standing there painting a portrait and it’s a commercial you know… (Laughter). And you get a smock – I remember it as clear as a bell. The vision I had in my head. You’ve got a smock on and there’s a pedestal with a bowl of fruit on it and an easel. It’s a commercial of a guy painting. I thought that’s what a commercial artist was.
So from there you went to art school and studied abstract painting at a college in Tennessee?
Yeah as I grew in Chattanooga, I went to high school and stuff and I was the school artist and a cartoonist on the school newspapers. That’s what I originally wanted to be as a kid was a cartoonist because that was my idea of an artist. And then I went to Middle Tennessee State University and I majored in painting because I just thought that painting was a serious thing to do. It’s what real artist did. I took four years of painting and art history and stuff, and that’s where I really learned about the art world and the history of art. The history part of it was just as important as the actual doing of it because that was a great education for me. Just learning about the past. I studied abstract – my painting teacher was an abstract expressionist. That was my first serious foray into painting, abstract painting.
You never strayed from that at all? You never tried to paint cartoons or anything?
Well, I kept drawing underground cartoons for the college newspaper and I always had an interest in cartoons. And my abstract paintings had a very cartoony line and I was interested in finding the gap between abstract paintings and cartoons which they share a lot, and I was a big fan of Phillip Guston and Willem de Kooning who both had very cartoony lines. Cartoons were never very far from my mind and then the minute that I graduated from four years of that abstract expressionism and everything, I got back into comics because I saw Raw Magazine and I knew this was the next generation for undergrounds. It was full of exciting great art and Raw Magazine is what got me convinced to become a cartoonist again. It inspired me to move to New York City.
What year was that?
It was 1980 when I first saw Raw. I was in Nashville where I lived for a year after I graduated.
When did you move to New York?
I didn’t get to New York until January of ’82. I spent another year in Nashville saving my dough (laughs) and then I made the leap. And in 1982 it was pretty rough and ready you know. I lived downtown in the East Village and it was still pretty funky, but it was a great time for the arts. A time when a young artist could afford to live in Manhattan and it was New York City so it was great. It was very exciting. It was my best education.
Jonathan Leder’s new film Promiscuities is a sexy psychological thriller starring the gorgeous Amy Hood as a lost young woman seduced into exploring her personal issues through various sexual relationships. It’s a visual tour de force that takes erotic filmmaking to a new level, and is best viewed under the cover of darkness. Here, we talk with Jonathan about the film and his collaborative relationship with the leading actress and co-writer.
What is Promiscuities about?
Promiscuities is the story of a young woman (Diane) who was violently abused by her mother during childhood, and then seeks the help of a psychotherapist later in life, only to realize that he has a twisted agenda of his own. Diane’s problems primarily manifest themselves through her sexual psychosis, however, she has other very apparent psychological issues as well, her dependency on pills, alcohol, delusions, anger, fear, extreme self consciousness, a desperate need for love and affection, and dangerous self destructive tendencies. All of which are propelled and encouraged by her sadistic doctor.
The screenplay is an original story written by Amy Hood and myself. We began outlining the idea of Promiscuities back in January of this year, shortly after we published Fetishisms Volume 1. We began to think about a way to bring some of the psychological concepts we had been exploring to life in the context of a narrative film people could enjoy. We choose this subject matter because it allowed us to explore a lot of concepts that we were interested in. Psychological concepts, that affect many, if not all of us, in some way or another. The film is based on some true stories, some fiction, some personal influences.
How did you two meet and what was the working process like?
Amy and I have been working together now for nearly two years. Of course we met in the classic sort of model / photographer way. Working on this project was very in depth, but also very informal. A lot of research went into the project and we both came up with ideas that we pushed each other on. The overhead cost for producing this film was really very low, so we were able to spend a lot of time filming. We spent on and off nearly six months working on the project. If we didn’t like something, or the way something came out, we either scrapped it, or re did it. I think the process was very sculptural and tactile. We tried a lot of things, sometimes they were brilliant, other times (though not as often!) they were failures. The best part is being able to take risks, and having people around you that are able to support you when you take those risks.
This is such a sexually charged film…
Diane’s whole premise “I guess it’s safe to say I have a problem with sex” is sort of the jumping off point for exploration in this film. The idea of exploring aspects of human nature that other people are afraid to discuss in an intelligent and mature way is always interesting to me. Human beings are fascinating creatures, and I suppose I agree with Freud that human sexuality is often at the root of a large part of human psychology.
“I guess we always long for forbidden things” or “I knew I was alive with the heat of her hand around my cock.” Sure, it’s sexual, but these are universal truths that speak to all of us.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the filming? How did you keep the talent comfortable during some of the more graphic scenes?
Filming went relatively well. Many of the scenes were improvised and the actors, especially Phillip Levine did a fantastic job with the improv. The whole scene when he is walking down the staircase at night is complete improv. Just right off the cuff. No script at all. Those scenes turned out so vibrantly, but I guess it was a risk. They could have been awful with other actors.
Some of the sexual scenes were a bit awkward to film, sometimes I had to push Amy to do things she wasn’t entirely comfortable to do, which I did not always enjoy. There are others that did not make it into the film because the ‘chemistry’ wasn’t there, but as long as you can go back and get it right, it’s no big deal. I guess after a while Amy got a bit burnt out making out with everyone.
Any tips for aspiring filmmakers?
Make your own rules. Study the great films. Ignore the formulaic crap coming out of Hollywood today completely. Take more risks. Take your time. Throw away your cell phone so you can concentrate. We made this film for under $3,000, but I also spent 350 hours editing it. Time is more important than money, in my opinion.
Promiscuities is available for digital download and streaming here (18+)
Before talking with Scott Caan, the actor, I had no idea of what to expect. I mean, I’d seen him on the big screen in Novocaine and all of the Ocean’s series, and on TV in Entourage, but these were just characters, not the man himself. How close to the real Scott Caan were the people he portrayed? While I was supposed to be on the phone to talk about “Vanity,” his new book of photography and concurrent show at Martha Otero Gallery in Los Angeles, I was just as curious about finding out who he actually was. Who I discovered was a guy bursting with creativity and a clear outlook on life, whose talents stretched far beyond acting into music, writing, and of course, photography. He’d be just as comfortable on an Action Bronson track as he would be in a gallery, showing off the images he captured in a frame. Which is why we had this conversation in the first place.
The most obvious way to start this interview is by asking about how you got into photography?
On the first film I directed (Dallas 362) my cinematographer was a guy by the name of Philip Parmet. When I began the film I had the idea that I was going to focus on the acting, and while I knew what I wanted the movie to look like and understood what I felt was an interesting frame, I never really got it the way I did Until after I had spent six months with Phil Parmet. I basically glued myself to his hip while we were making the movie and he really inspired me to want to take photographs and understand the craft. He’s a fantastic photographer, and like I said, he inspired me to start shooting.
What was the first camera that you shot with?
A Nikon FE.
And you got this from your father as a gift?
Yeah, it was a camera that he had owned for a long time and then he gave it to me. He saw that I was getting into photography and film. It was a good gift.
Do you ever use a camera phone at all? Are you on Instagram?
None of that?
I actually looked on Instagram for you and instead found a pretty funny feed that was dedicated to your ass. So… the title of your book that’s coming out is Vanity.
Where’d you pull that name from?
You know, over the years I’ve done quite a few things to step outside of the world of just being an actor. I just always remember there’d be a critic or someone writing something for a magazine, or whatever it was, and they’d say that the work was a vanity project. You know? “It’s a vanity project.” It always had kind of a negative undertone. It just seemed like a bad thing. I was always confused by the word, and about 10 years ago, I looked it up. I don’t remember which definition it was specifically, but it was something about pride in oneself. I remember looking up the word and I still didn’t understand why a vanity project was such a terrible thing? The critic’s idea is basically using one’s clout or cache to put something out. The idea of art and photography or acting or painting or whatever it is, the fact is that if someone does it for the wrong reason, there’s a judge out there that says there are right and wrong reasons to want to be creative is bananas to me. The fact that people can destroy things and hate you and want you dead because you did it, it’s like I wonder what those people are doing on the weekends? By the way, I’m not angry about it. I don’t want it to come off like I am…
I completely understand where you’re coming from.
It’s like such a goofy trip. The whole thing. I remember being at a screening of a buddy of mine’s movie and he had just come back from Cannes where they told him it was the worst piece of shit they’d ever seen and that he should never make a film again, and that he should die. I remember him saying at this panel where a bunch of people liked the film—subjective, which is another interesting thing—he said to this crowd: “I didn’t do this for any other reason than that I wanted to. I just wanted to go make a film and I thought it was interesting and this guy wants me dead because I did it.” Anyway, for me, my first book was sort of tainted. I love the book, but it was sort of pushed in a direction that I didn’t necessarily want it pushed in. They wanted a ton of celebrities in the book, they wanted a ton of nude girls in the book because that’s what sells. It also got me thinking about the idea that people don’t really do anything anymore. People don’t do projects or things unless they’re potentially lucrative. No book has ever been lucrative, but obviously people want to make their money back. Studios make movies, they want to make their money back. I get it. It’s the idea, it’s what we’re doing. To me, I wanted to make a book—this book—to be just about pictures that I liked. They’re not about what will sell, they’re kind of all over the place, there’s not a real theme to the book. It’s just photos that I dig. Pictures that I’ve taken over the last ten years. The title, “Vanity”, comes from a combination of my photography being accused of being a vanity project, and owning it. If that’s what you want to call it, then that’s what it is. They’re just photos that I dig and I was able to put them out, you know? Hopefully, people won’t want me dead because of that.
Critics can be some of the worst people in the world, honestly. Slay for pay.
Well, listen, everybody has to have a job. There’s nothing wrong with a critic. I don’t mind critics because their job is to tell you what they thought of the movie, but there’s also a mean way of doing it too where you can see people’s failures in their critiques, you know?
Yeah, a critic of the critic would be a fantastic job.
Yeah, I’ve always said that that would be kinda cool.
So, the range of photography that I’ve seen from you, it goes from your access to celebrity to nudes to people on the street. Are you carrying a camera with you everywhere you go?
I used to. I don’t anymore, but yeah, I used to. The truth of the matter is, a lot of photographers that I look up to and respect, they’ll spend months and years somewhere and come up with a collection of photographs and make a book with a singular focus. I’m really lucky in one sense because I get to move around a lot. I’m picked up and dropped places because of my job, but I’m never one place too often and I never really get to focus too much on one specific subject. I think that’s part of the reason my pictures are all over the place.
Whose photographs are you looking at the most these days?
I really like what Estevan Oriol is doing. I could go on and run off a huge list of names, but his photographs are amazing. Are you familiar with him?
Yeah. His work is truly authentic. Completely off subject, I heard you on the Step Brothers track “Byron G” and that song is tight.
Are you a hip-hop head?
Well, I kind of just run with the 90s, like the golden era. On the website, we have a column called Reminisce Over This which is a play off of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s They Reminisce Over You. While doing some research, I dug up an interview with you and Alchemist (The Whooliganz) on Rap City in 1993. That blew my mind. How that was being on Rap City at the age of 17?
Look man, the whole thing to me looking back was amazing but when you’re younger nobody can tell you shit. When you’re younger you know everything, you’re where you’re at and I was right where I was supposed to be. I thought I was nice and we got a record deal when I was 17. You don’t get humble until you’re a little bit older. Humility isn’t part of life when you’re a teenager, your brain hasn’t even started working properly yet.
Sometimes, I wish that my brain had never started working properly.
Yeah, I guess in some ways, but in some ways not. It was a trip. For me, I knew school wasn’t for me and I knew I wanted to do something creative. At the time, rap music was my life. Just everything about hip-hop was what I was moved by for tons and tons of reasons, that was the creative field that made sense to me and I loved rap music and at the time I thought I had a talent for it. Now, looking back, I realized there were way too many people that had much more potential than I had. I thought, look if you at least can’t tell yourself that you’re going to be the best, you’re in the wrong profession, you know?
As much as I loved it, I realized that my heart wasn’t 100% in this shit. I’ll still fuck with Alchemist, and if Action Bronson was like “Yo, you want to do a track?” I’ll say “yeah, I’ll write a rhyme.” I can write a hot verse every couple months. But writing records upon records upon records? I’ll leave that to rappers. Rap music is a very specific thing. Everybody in rap either does or should think that nobody can fuck with them. Otherwise you’re not going to go very far.
Yeah, humble rap is few and far between. I think De La Soul performs humble rap.
Yeah, but to me back then it was different. Rap music is pop music today. Listen, I still think there’s a lot of hot shit out there. We’re really having a conversation about hip-hop right now. I think there’s definitely a lot of really really really nice MCs out there right now but back then, from 90 to 95, that was it. That was really it. I was raised on that shit.
(Editors Note/Postscript) Sadly, this is where the recording cuts off. I forgot to check the stupid app I was using, and it just stopped working, even though the conversation continued on for another 15 minutes or so. I can tell you that we ventured into talking about being rebellious youths, playing sports, and that Scott used to write graffiti under the name “NOTE.” He is also a playwright, believes in a minimalist way of living, and doesn’t own an expensive watch. Also, because of his role on Hawaii Five-0 and the amount of time he spends on Oahu, he has some great recommendations for food spots. One being Sushi Sasabune, where it’s omakase or nothing.
Scott Caan is doing a book signing tonight (8/30) and his show continues through September 13th. Go see it.
Swedish fashion brand Indigofera just released two special edition blankets they made with artist Richard Colman. We spoke with Richard about one of them.
Does it feel weird to write your name on a coffin?
Not really, I’ve been doing it for years. It’s an inevitable outcome.
What kind of person do you think will wrap themselves up in this blanket?
Probably no one. I threw that design in as a joke but they [Indegofera] liked it so they made it. I think it’s more ridiculous to have my name on a product someone is expected to pay money for than on a coffin. I don’t know, it’s pretty funny I guess.
On a dark note, will you be saving one to wrap yourself up in on that final day?
I don’t think so. I don’t think I want to be buried.
Burn baby burn. I’m going to have a tree planted over me. How about coffin painting? Are you open to commissions?
I don’t know. Maybe if it were the straight up pine box kind I would, but I doubt any weirdo that would want their coffin painted would opt for one as basic as that.
Glad to know it’s a possibility.
Location: Bushwick, Brooklyn
How long have you been in this studio?
Since October 2013.
Why did you pick the location?
I was in Philly and my building was being shut down by L&I and this space was opening up. It was my excuse to move to Brooklyn finally. I’m glad I did because the Philly studio was locked for months.
How does it rank in comparison to your previous studios?
My previous studio was twice as big and 4x less expensive. Haha. It ruled, huge windows, nice view. My studio before that was tiny in Chinatown in Philly so I shared it with lots of little mice, and before that I was in grad school. I’ve been to a bunch of residencies and nothing compares to those studios. Currently on the hunt for a new space.
What’s your favorite attribute of the space?
I like the location and it’s quiet.
How often are you in here?
I am here every day.
Can you explain the full capabilities of the studio? What kind of things do you make?
I have two floor looms here, I spend most days hand weaving tapestries on them. Other days I dye yarn, set up the warp, do hand sewing, drawing or a million other in-between tasks.
Do you have a refrigerator? If so, what’s in it?
In the summer I am all about ice, for ice coffee and water. So tons of ice, lunch for the day, fruit, some almond milk, tons of snacks.
What kind of sound system do you have?
I don’t have a sound system I just use my laptop with earbuds. My studio mate has one but I don’t use it. My looms make noise when I’m actively weaving but are quiet when I’m just sitting so having earphones helps the sounds get straight to my ears at the most appropriate volume.
Have you ever slept here?
Yep, if I am there late enough and have to be back early the next day.
Erin will be showing new work this Thursday (7/17) in the Summer Mixer 2014 at Joshua Liner Gallery. You can follow her on twitter and instagram at @erinmriley