• Poet. Performer. Writer. Weirdo.

     

  • About:

     

     

    Anmarie Soucie is a writer/performer living in New York City's Lower East Side. She has trained at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theater Institute and received a B.A. in Humanities – creative writing and literature – from New York University; she plans to complete her M.F.A. in creative writing and performance studies.

     

    After moving to New York in 2005, she began modeling for local designers as well as taking on small acting roles, such as a bit character part in Apt 413, which went on to win Best Comedy Pilot in the 2007 New York Television Festival. She also had small roles in the television series Rescue Me, the film Two Lovers, Forgetting the Girl, and Dirty Old Town. In 2009 she landed the lead role of Jenny in the independent short film The Great Destroyer, which won best future director award at the Hollyshorts Film Festival in Hollywood, Jury Selection at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, and Jury Selection at the San Francisco Festival of Shorts. A Killing Day was her first feature film, where she played the lead role of Holly.

     

    Soucie, an alumni of New York University and active member in SPS writing programs and clubs, is actively pursing a writing career. Aside from being a member of the NYU-SPS Writer's Group and a copyeditor/proofreader for NYU's small journal production and quarterly review, her work has been published in NYU's Dovetail literary journal and 3 Elements Review - a literary review dedicated to fiction, poetry and art. She graduated with honors and for her senior thesis, wrote the first draft of an upcoming novel – Broken Jade.

     

     

     

     

    “I was working on one of my poems all morning. I took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again.”

     

    ~ Oscar Wilde

     

     

    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
    ~ Ernest Hemingway

  • Writing Samples: 

     

     

    From articles on art, film, nightlife, culture and lifestyle to excerpts of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.

    "Celestial" by Wendy Ortiz

    "Wendy Ortiz: A Celebration of Womanhood"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    In an enduring celebration of the beauty and power of womanhood and the world, Wendy Ortiz captures the intuition and sensuality that belies the duality of femininity and nature. Her obvious influence of the female form and figure combined with the irresistible draw of mother nature is both contrast and parallel – the fluidity and open space coupled with the stark lines and structure; a place where the independent ego meets the collective conscious.

     

    The thick black lines, highly influenced by cartoons from her younger days, Wendy uses to create distinct spaces that draw attention to both the individual parts as well as the beauty of the whole. The brilliance in Wendy’s work is her evocation of a perfect yet painful moment of the woman’s chrysalis; the moment of birth into womanhood, and this seemingly melancholic ode to the child, coupled with the burning, unstoppable power that arises from the emerging woman. The expressiveness of the eyes and hands, the raw emotion caught within gesture; these moments are both created and captured, unveiled and revealed to us in a way that is haunting, eternal, mythical and transcendent.

     

    As a self-taught artist in Brea, California, Wendy developed her own unique style outside the confines of a structured curriculum, constantly exploring and pushing the limits of her imagination while maintaining the constant theme of womanhood and Mother Nature. Using the mediums of both illustration and oil paints, her curving lines create a fluidity that is both delicate and powerful. We see this in the combination of the sensual woman as mother earth – both apart of and separate; the unconscious intuitive self and the conscious self-aware being – that is evoked in the eyes, lips, gesture and position of the nude upper bodies...

     

    "Where Chinatown Meets the Lower East Side: The Bloody Bucket Endures"

     

    The Lo-down 

    In just nine short years as a Lower East Side – Chinatown resident, I’ve observed (and, it’s safe to say, been a part of) the rapid influx of gentrification and urban renewal hitting the area; in particular, the area surrounding Seward Park. Though it’s nice to see the development and evolution, it's also nice to know that some of the old stomping grounds will stick around after the coming overhaul’s complete; and 169 Bar is doing just that.

     

     

    As a sort of local staple since I moved into the building nearly a decade ago, I’ve often wondered how 169 has been able to stand its ground while other businesses have come and gone. I’ve seen neighbors come (Mission Chinese is, as I write this, next-door) and go (the recently shuttered (and sadly so) Wing Shoon Chinese), and I’m sure I’ll grow nostalgic over it one of these days, but I don’t believe those days will be anytime soon. And I’m glad. It’s hard to find a spot to quench your thirst without draining your wallet. Even more so, it’s refreshing to me that the bar is a perfect reflection of New York City life – an epicenter that consistently attracts and socially integrates a crowd variety that is as quirky and varied as the place itself; from aging locals who may-or-may-not fall drunkenly off their bike to fresh-faced hipsters who may-or-may-not pay for that $3 beer in dimes and nickels.

     

     

    "On the Avenue"

    Excerpt from a fiction short story

    Two scoops a mess, and one scoop dying: Kaye. I found her huddled in the stairwell near my apartment, shivering and shaking like a wet tomcat. The harsh light from the hallway cut across her arms and neck, betraying veins of blue, bulging rivers and crusted stab wounds, ivory clawed skin, and hair matted in patches – little dreads like urban stalactites. Fuck. I felt like I was coming down just looking at her.

    "Kaye."

    She nodded at me as I came up the steps, but I was already shaking my head.

    "No."

    "C'mon, man.. yooou–"

    "I nothing, you gotta get outta here."

    Appealing to the gods of gravity, she attempted to stand up as I squeezed past her, and in doing so I caught a whiff of what was something like dial soap covered vomit.
    "Mikey'll be back in a coupla weeks ana–"
    "NO."
    "Why yooou gotta be like that... pleeease, just... c'mon..."
    Spittle had accrued in the corners of her cracked lips, and from up close, I saw that her teeth had seriously corroded since the last time, and that she still had the cracked front tooth from when she'd nodded off on the avenue a few months back.
    "Last time... that's it," I hesitated. "You hear me?"
    But she was already nodding, leaning back against the door frame like a broken bobble head.
    "Kaye," I breathed, "you already fucked up, alright? Go home –"
    "Noooo," she oozed, snapping back to life. "I-I, I can't doo that, y'know that I can't..." she mumbled.
    "Last time," I say.
    Last time, last time," she repeated, but she was already fading again.
     

    Amiel Courtin-Wilson (L) with Jack Charles (R) for the film "Bastardy".

    "Who the F*ck is Amiel Courtin-Wilson?" 

    Beautiful Bizarre

    Boldly stamped with a Bert and Ernie tattoo across his heart, Melbournian filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson has been doggedly and unapologetically making films since the tenderoni age of single digits, when he was just barely old enough to grasp a camera, let alone its understanding. “My father exposed me to cinema when I was very, very young,” he says, “like maybe from age five?” he adds, punctuating a good half of his statements with what sound like question marks, as if he too, were trying to figure it out right along with you. ““He’s an artist but he use to make these experimental Super 8 movies… I felt beholden to him, y’know, to make my own films to show him… by the time I was seven or eight, I was really obsessed with cinema…”

     

    (On what it’s like growing up with artist parents): “They don’t realize what they’re doing while they’re doing it, but they expose you to a lot of stuff; they probably expose you to too much stuff, too early, y’know? A lot of times I’d be watching things and have no idea as to how to comment on it. For example, the closing scene of Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni? I had no idea why my father liked this film or why it was politically relevant… I’d watch it, and then feel this huge pressure to speak about it in some cogent fashion, and I wouldn’t be able to, so… I’d feel it viscerally, I’d feel it emotionally, but I wouldn’t know how to talk about it politically or within a film theory frame.”

    Watching his films, it’s easy to follow how heavily they center around the themes of culture and identity, and how they are largely drawn towards societies’ underdogs and underbellied worlds. In this way, Courtin-Wilson is helping to dissolve the cultural barriers that surround us by focusing instead on what makes us human beings, and his films all deal with intensely raw, intimate character portraits and relationships that we can all, on some level, embrace with compassion and profound empathy: “I think in Australia our problem is probably complacency?” he starts...

     

    "Broken Jade"

    (Excerpt from novel)

                She sits there, a fickle nymph in hospital garb, smoking her Lucky Strikes and detached as ever. When she sees me, she smiles a ghostly smile and I wave through the fingerprinted glass. I've been to hospitals before, but not like this one. The faces here look strange and twisted, but not in a physical pain kind of way. My grandmother is next to me, her eyes feel piercing and stern. She looks disappointed. When we go out to see my mother she looks frail and tired up close, her lips and cuticles chewed and bloody, her hair a sweeping mess atop her head.

                "Hi sweeeeetie," she slurs, "Come give me a huuugg."

    I hesitate but I feel my grandmother's hand nudge me forward, so I give her a weak side hug, and from up close she smells of nicotine and cherry syrup.            

                "Your mom's gonna be out real soon." I hear my grandmother say, but her voice sounds so far away. "And then you can see her as much as you like."

                "Mmhhm." I say through clenched teeth.

    I hate seeing my mother this way. Just like at home, the ashtray is spilling over, her plate of food untouched.

                "Here are your cigarettes."

    My grandmother places a carton on the table, the look of disappointment never does leave her face. My mother, I sense, feels this and cradles her legs up tight to her chin like little Benny when he's frightened.

                "I'm getting better," she says, staring straight ahead with thick, glossy eyes. "I don't think I'll be having any more those episodes."

                "Just take care of yourself, Norma. You need to get well... take your time, y'hear? And do what the doctor tells you," she pleads. "Take all your medication. And don't forget to eat." She pulls out a cigarette of her own.

                "And you're lucky they dropped most of them charges, y'know," she goes on after taking a long drag. "Jon was in pretty bad shape."

    In the hallway, I hear a plate break and then laughter; someone a few tables down coughs and grumbles to their self. Everything looks yellow, and under the harsh florescent lights you can pick up every tiny flaw on people's skin: a fading bruise on an upper arm, dark bags under eyes, lint and flakes in unwashed hair... The clock ticks. 7:22pm.

          

    "Poetry – Recollections of a Small Town"

    Dovetail Literary Review

     

     

    a sticky breeze stirs the well

                of fireflies; phosphorescent embers

    that burn the vacant night –

                of endless tales on a tire swing;

    jaunts down dusty paths for candy smokes.

                of fog-colored water: stowed with the canned goods

    in a clammy basement

                            under the quilts          

                                           in auntie's wooden chest.

                of musky air thick with careful

    clippings,         arranged in disarray,     confusing

       the               order              of              things.

                of ghostly hands on (mostly) green grass –

    an intoxicating scent. while,   acres away on the foreign plains

    a gentle push beneath the trees,

    a warm shadow, unforgotten.

     

     

     

    Street art by S-Chain for the JMZ Walls (Brooklyn, NY)

    "A Photographer's Guide to Brooklyn Street Art"

    Resource Travel (Photos by Lavinia Pisani)

    Rambling our way along the L and G lines, my photographer and I make our way through Brooklyn’s maze in search of candy-colored walls. First stop: the Bedford L, where a swarm of androgynous faces and ironic tattoos funnel out into the sun. Through the herd we head down N 6th towards Kent and Wythe streets, zigzagging around food trucks, sidewalk vendors and organically-carved wooden benches.

     

    Amidst this dwindling hipster Mecca we call Williamsburg, one can easily traverse the neighborhood by foot (though I say that as a city person; exert yourself at your own risk). From there, we head back towards the L and ride it a few stops further in, exiting at the Jefferson stop. These stomping grounds, fairly known to street artists and graffiti voyeurs alike, has come to be known as Bushwick Collective territory – where St. Nicholas meets Troutman in, you guessed it, Bushwick. The area encompasses a horde of vibrantly muraled walls and, if you’re lucky, you’ll even make one of Bushwick Collective’s block parties, which I must say are pretty insane.

     

    From there we continue our trek down towards the JMZ Walls – just off the Myrtle Av J-M-Z line - where Bushwick runs into Bedstuy. Somewhere to my left I hear clicking as my camera-woman has set off at my thoughtful directions (i.e. pointing to a side street and saying, “shoot that”). Meanwhile, I meander off to wonder what the hell I’m going to write about in this article… and now, I continue to stare at a blank screen and hit the space key several times.


    Street art has in recent times not only re-emerged, but gone mainstream. From social issues on a national and international scale to neutral, apolitical visual stimulants, street art has and continues to allow artists a public platform from which to vocalize and express their values as well as their individual ideals, and regardless of whether you are a professional photographer in the area or just visiting New York City for the summer (if our blistered feet and calloused hands have anything to show for it), we’ve put together a sort of guide for you on how to shoot graffiti in the streets of Brooklyn.

     

    "The (Dali-inspired) Stain of Dreams"

    Prose-Poetry

     

     

    abandoned between time and

     

    eternity /grasping at air that cannot breath\


    “let sleeping dreams guide you,”

     

    they whisper –

     

    down,


                 down,


    down,


    {a dreamworld penetration}


    stepping over History’s bones

     

     

    to trace a purple sky; lick marrow

     

    from a broken wall – step

     

    around the horse that broke you;

     

    glide with the Graces that promise

     

    to break you – “See beyond


    the trees,” they say (from beyond the trees);

    a four-leaf clover marijuana leaf; a

     

    gutted horse


    on the roadside; two lovers

     

    swinging on a tire swing, deep

     

    inside a forest that is


    lonesome, longing; desperate to disappear

     

     

     

     

     

     

    DiorBook by Roxanne Lowit

    "A Conversation with Roxanne Lowit: A Female Perspective on Fashion Photography"

    Resource Magazine

    Roxanne Lowit – jet-black bob, blunt bangs, cherry red lips, chic black pantsuit. As I dial her number, I imagine Lowit sitting comfortably in her Manhattan home, perhaps a marble coffee table nearby spilling over with hardcover fashion and photography books. In a quiet, unassuming manner she clicks through the files on her laptop, delicately tapping at the keys with her pomegranate-colored fingertips… The call connects and she answers the phone in a softly-spoken, gentle voice: “Hello, this is Roxanne.”

     

    "The Top 15 Most Visually Stimulating Films for Photography Lovers"

    Resource Magazine (print and online)

     

    Photography - the foundation upon which film has been built – as we know it, is the means to visually capture a single, still moment in time; the means by which one can express a story. Likewise, film both emphasizes the visual and expresses a story, though instead of the fleeting, simplicity of the still moment, expands into a series of still moments, or what we’ve come to know in the film world as cinematography (or literally, 24 stills, or frames per second). And born was the illusion of movement.

     

    With recent films like Tree of Life and Enter the Void, I am reminded of the fact that photography has been and continues to be the foundation upon which filmmaking has been made, the power of the visual in film, and photography’s role in it being so. In this way, filmmaking is the really art of storytelling, in which the visual (or, photographic stills) becomes the most important and necessary component.

     

     

    "EXCLUSIVE Brian M. Viveros 'Matador' @ Thinkspace Gallery"

    Beautiful Bizarre

     

    Brian M. Viveros and his Dirtyland troops invite you to his new solo exhibition ‘Matador’ November 7, 2015 at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles. Prepare to be inundated with Viveros' most grandiose set of works to date, which include some of his largest, most epic paintings! 'Matador' is sure to draw attention with his first life-size charcoal rendering 'Battlefield', which holds one of his provocative little troops in her bullfighter best... a showstopper you must see in person!

     

    In addition to these, he will debut the highly anticipated sculpture 'BULLHEADED', a collaborative project with Pretty in Plastic, the Los Angeles based full-service fine art fabrication studio. This sculpture has been a long-time coming, starting with Viveros’ conceptual design, a 3D mold, and the final result to be revealed on the night of the show. There’s lots of excitement building up for the show, so strap-on your dirty helmets and stroll on down to catch Brian M. Viveros and his brutal beauties for 'Matador', November 7th, at Thinkspace Gallery.

     

     

    "Canon Expo 2015 @ Javit's Center"

    Resource Magazine

     

     

    It’s just a day after the Canon Expo and the excitement surrounding the event is beginning to die down. As I look over my scribbled notes (or rather, my half-legible attempt at notes), I realize that in fact it’s the photos and video I’d taken that hold the most useable insight. Perusing through the files and footage, you see hordes of people weaving in and out of the large, red tinted space of Canon’s main area (red lighting perhaps equally suitable for an expo on Amsterdam brothels; young men and women of all different backgrounds – industry people and Canon employees alike - huddle together in groups gushing loudly, hyper-observant Japanese business men standing stiff-limbed along the walls, and friendly, smiling event coordinators swarming around every portal to the separate “areas” with bright, glassy eyes. The Canon Expo indeed drew a large crowd of people from all over the world, and the ginormous space of Javit’s Center-turned-Canon soiree tittered with this mixture of dynamic energy, excitement, and amazement.

     

     

    "Create. Educate. Inspire - Street Artist Spotlight: Fumero" – with photo permission by: Fumero

    Nsubordinate Magazine

    Once upon a time, street art and graffiti were seen as a late-night, subway-hopping, derelict trait. Nowadays, it’s gone mainstream, seen not only as an encouraged form of self-expression, but as a recognized, professional trade. Like other art forms throughout history, street art is a platform from which national and global social issues can be expressed; all the same, it can also act as a neutral, apolitical canvas, a visual stimulant that can aid in the creative growth of a community’s environment and well-being.

     

    Recognized as one of New York City’s top street artists, Fumero, who besides working on contemporary murals, also paints and does illustration??, views the message of his work – the style of which is coined Fumeroism – as: “The subject matter I paint,” he says, “has no political undertones, although there is a social message, which is to bring the colors of life and nature where there is an absence of it, and this is particularly found in urban neighborhoods.” This kind of vision is progressively the response I hear in what is the importance and value of street art. Even the JMZ Walls - a recent upstart in the street art and graffiti community and where you’ll find Fumero’s work alongside many other gifted artists - began when, according to their website: “a longtime neighborhood resident saw an opportunity to invigorate the community through street art… [and JMZ Walls was] motivated by the idea that urban art has the power to influence its surrounding environments, educate and inspire residents, and shape the experience of visitors.” (JMZ Walls). 

     

    "Spotlight on Ayo Breeze: The Young Rapper Doin’ New Things with the Old School" – with photo permission by: Ayo Breeze.

    Idiot Cult

     

    “I live by the words of LL Cool J - ‘I represent Queens but I was raised out in Brooklyn’,” says the fast-rhyming recording artist Ayo Breeze, who’s currently whipping up a storm in New York City’s underground hip-hop scene, and who’s hits on his latest album So Past Done – “What it Lookin’ Like”, “Bounce on It”, and “Drugz”, the latter of which lends a subtle nod to the late Rick James’ “Mary Jane” – are tearing it up on itunes and Soundcloud.

     

     

    Born Brandon Baril but known by Ayo Breeze since his high school days, it didn’t take me long to realize that this rising kingpin has both a ferocious appetite and appreciation for the world of hip-hop music. “I owe a lot to my father,” he says, “he was the one that turned me on to rap music early on… He’s the one who gave me my first ever rap albums – The Fugees’ The Score, Nas’ I Am and B.I.G.’s Life After Death,” he adds, albums that would later go on to serve as an influential platform from which this rising star would jump, and from which Ayo Breeze’s Twista-quick tongue and raw, poignant lyrics are helping to transform the game of rap & hip-hip music today.

     

    "Ruin"

    Whittled away; what remains. 

     

    1. [Tears in a bell jar].

     

    1. You said I liked the irony

    of destroying

    something beautiful.

     

     

    1. Years forward –

    and I am left

    to spit polish

    the remains.

     

     

    1. [Ruins: I

    remember

    the unraveling];

     

     

    1. The penetration of the unsaid –

     

    1. Your gaze,

    like the coolness

    of a blocked sun,

    was enough.

     

     

     

    "THE SURREAL WORLD OF FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHER PAULINE DARLEY"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    With an eye for the startling surreal, photographer Pauline Darley has amassed quite an expansive body of work. Whether her own personal collections like – Half Moon, She has Waited Too Long, Vivid Colors – or fashion and celebrity collaborations with Marie Claire, Elle magazine, and Armani, Darley brings a personal style into everything she does, and whips up delectable visual delights in the process.

     

    Continue reading on Beautiful Bizarre here!

     

     

     

    "LIVE FREE’ @ DANIEL ROLNIK GALLERY"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    Coming to the Santa Monica neighborhood on November 7th, 2015 is the new show ‘Live Free’ at Daniel Rolnik Gallery, a collaboration with and curated by Mike Maxwell of the LIVE FREE PODCAST – a largely popular podcast featuring interviews with contemporary artists each and every week. There’s a slew of talented artists for this upcoming show, which include: Anthony Lister, Ben Horton, Marcelo Macedo, and Kyle Ranson...  (cont. reading on Beautiful Bizarre). 

    Resource Magazine

    Articles on death-related selfies are popping up all over the internet, and not in the way that some would prefer (like the much happier story, death of selfies). People have always wanted fame, but recently we’re seeing a new way in which people are literally (proper use of the word) dying for it. Introducing: the life-or-death selfie. It has taken people (and by people, I mean the largely teeneage to young adult demographic)... cont. reading on Resource..

    "Carve"

    photo: @stevesweatpants (IG)

    I am barely beginning to scratch the surface of myself.

     

    I think of deterioration, and in a hundred years how it – this paper, this pen, this world as we’ve remembered it – will all be different; a distorted or perhaps revised (yes, revised) history.

     

    There will be a million new ways of thinking and remembering – both right, wrong, and somewhere in between (just like this exact moment, moment, moment)...

     

    There will be paradigm shifts in thinking forward and remembering backward; ways of storing memory in containers outside of ourselves, perhaps.

     

    Conscious beings carrying mortality like a stone knapsack, urged on from something inside; the drive to carve one's own name in the wet cement; to hear their voice echoed back from The Cave; tell Plato it was all true; to know that the scraped knees and sore heart didn't go unnoticed.

     

    We’re all lost – young and old, it’s just the old have earned the wisdom to not waste time with trivialities; to give a nod to what can't be changed without slowing their roll.

     

    But it’s not to lose hope, no, it’s just to try to understand the bedrock of humanity upon which we fuck, breath, kill, love.

     

    All the carvings of names in the trees, cement, marble stones…

     

    We're – blood, shit, and tears - no different, no better; just the same in slightly different pigments, sifted down and strewn about this giant rock; microscopic ants from space.

     

    And I think Time has it – that fickle, immortal, infinitely ungraspable “thing” that we, in earnest desperation, look to, admire, envy. The eternal Being; the collective “I” that we long to absorb, like an old man’s dying recollection of youth.

     

    To live forever in something;

    to leave your carving somewhere in the trees…

    "American Spring, 2016"

    A poetic scream - Hive Magazine - Freedom Edition

    American Spring, 2016

     

    I. With grains of good intention they feed us

    hysterics through flat screens; worship ‘

    Big Brother – the all-seeing eye;

    take Somas; repeat.

     

    II. Repetition –

    Bernays’ democratic persuasion to

    concoct a potion – panic-propaganda –

    & streamline it straight into the bloodstream

    of Industrial America.

     

    III. "A toast,” they say, “to the frenzy… Freedom!

    clink with blood cocktails; (there’s an America, dying

    to be reborn – yes we can – diluted ideologies

    that still surge in the veins of its people).

     

    IV. Whitewashed bones cracking

    on the periphery of a new day;

    Pearl Harbor,

    9/11,

    the Invasion of Normandy;

    pump terror into America’s heartland; placate the masses

    with violent distraction. We are tired

    of death; of funneling humans through the war grinder

     

    V. Unknowing last notes from 19 year old soldiers

    to mothers scattered across suburbs. Memorials –

    an open wound; fathers ruminating services

    for the mangled limbs of sons & daughters.

     

    VI. So, crouching low on building’s rooftops, interspersed

    throughout the cities of this blood-soaked land, we lie in wait,

    to cut through the wire of coded phrases; political

    trickery; the two party system of one scam; pay attention

    to PTSD; the limbless veterans who

    hang dollar signs

    on subway stoops;

     

     

    VII. (High above the Metropolis, they nod in towers, palming medals;

    eyes averted to man-made constructions – tattered maps of territories,

    religious artifacts, the stain of morality).

     

    VIII. But we, fidgeting,

    pick at our lip’s dried stitches

    – our generation, a trembling chrysalis;

    and wait for the sound when

    the gestation period

    (two hundred and fifty-two)

    closes, and a new day

    stirs.

    "Art Basel Miami, 2015"

    Art + Travel + Culture

    Art Basel; Miami Dec 2-8th, 2015

     

    Scope seems a highly fitting name for Art Basel’s headliner show on the beach in Miami, as the scope of voyeurs that flock to the area in early December increasingly run the full gamut: slick-eyed men in Armani shirts and pressed pants stand boldly next to serious-looking women in wrist tattoos and army boots, where nearby, a trio of curly haired youngsters weave around a group of tanned girls in platforms, wobbling doe-legged along the sandy walkways that lead to the billowy tents of Art Basel’s Scope. Needless to say, Art Basel collects and disperses art lovers and party-ers alike throughout the city’s streets.

    Founded in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, Art Basel moved to Miami Beach in 2002 and according to their website, “immediately establishes itself as the premier show in the Americas, and ranks among the favorite winter events of the international art world. Positions introduce a radical new sector, with galleries exhibiting young artists near the beach in temporarily converted shipping containers” (https://www.artbasel.com/about/history).

     

    And since Art Basel’s migration to Miami Beach in 2002, the influx of artists in an array of backgrounds and styles, have increasing remolded the city of Miami, and in turn, to some degree, the residents that live there. Miami has always been known as a travel destination party town, but as of late is has made a wholehearted attempt at wiping away the sweat stains of vacationing Eurotrash, fat gringos y Latinos – if at least, for the most part, during the likes of Art Basel.

    Wynwood’s gentrification is a testament to this change, as is its sprawl, which has now infiltrated into surrounding areas like Little Haiti – a place now not uncommon for artist galleries and loft spaces, similar to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the late 90’s-early 2000’s, which has now sprawled its artistic tentacles as far as Bushwick and Bed-Stuy (as of present). Though South Beach, with the exception of Art Basel and the like, has largely been passed over in the artistic overhaul of the modern era. ADD

    It would be nice to see the feel and style of Wynwood Walls channeled into South Beach; neo-graffiti meets Art Deco, perhaps? A cuidad de playa cultural collision of sorts, a beach meets city life vibe with a lime twist of millennial newness. Whatever becomes of the artistic overhaul that is desperately needed in South Beach, the place careens with a caravan of varied souls – both new and old – ready to wipe away the peeling old to embrace a peeling new.

     

    Miami-noveau: I sit on the beach beneath an overcast sky teasing one of the sudden downpours so infamous to Miami. Sprawled around me, girls slathered in dry oil, tattoos and board-shorts, boys in backward caps who seem the type to quote Baldwin and Bukowski while high at the Deuce a few blocks over. Another sits cross-legged in Misfits bikini bottoms and a wife-beater, scribbling notes in a worn notebook next to a book by Joan Didion and a bucket of coronas. (Okay, the latter is me; I can only observe/remember so much).

    After picking up a couple of empanadas de carne and beers from a tiny bodega by the beach, I envision a South Beach sans Nespressos and Starbucks (at least mostly) and replaced with more mom and pop cafecitos serving croquettes and cortaditas; a Miami Beach gutting out the eyes of Ocean Drive and in its place, rebuilding with the feeling and understanding of this complicated city’s history and the Miamians of today. A place not just to party and self-destruct, but to build, construct, and create.

     

    Not to devalue memories of what Miami has been, and for the most part, still is. I remember (both past and present trip): sipping tall cans out of paper bags on the beach at noon, writing sordid poems on paper napkins at David’s Café, eating oily empanadas at a side street bodega, conversing with strangers on existential issues while high on molly and/or cocaina a la seis en la manana; Ted’s Hideway, The Deuce, David’s Café – things past and present like a mirage of memories; a hyper-surreal dream from which you’ve just half-awoken. Many a late nights turned early mornings has Miami had me praying for redemption, praying for something other than the dull sound of my own voice, praying for peace at the bottom of a rum-soaked coconut. Scribbling furiously as if to beat the sun; your ink – the blood of Christos – to sustain you.

     

    You remember your ex, and driving around Kendall late one August in search of an old high school (Sunrise? Suset?). You remember the late night in Brickell for his sister’s birthday party, the way she peeled off her heels to dance to reggaeton, before pulling you up to join her. You remember, further back, another ex, and buying ingredients for chicken tortilla soup at Publix; the coked up night on the beach with your best friend – moonlight and cabernet in paper cups. You remember scribbling notes in the back of Grey Hound buses on the way to Key West, the bottle of kosher wine you shared on the (mostly) empty bus. You remember broken flip-flops, Hostel-life, and drunken falls from top bunks, and laughing laughing laughing. You remember key spoons of coke in shady bathrooms (the ultimate Miami cliché), dancing in bars with no music, double-fisting drinks at 2pm, pool halls that oddly smelled of actual pools – a strange combination.

     

    Fast forward to present, I am still on the beach, taking a swig of my third corona and watching silly girls take photos of each other making heart shapes in the sky; Russians in thin molokinis holding prolonged and awkward poses beneath a sullen sky. Photos snap, women attempt grace at adjusting bikini tops and bottoms, unsuccessfully, and men nonchalantly flex tanned muscles behind pastel shades. And then, it rains rains rains, people dashing back towards the façade of umbrellas along Ocean Drive.

     

    Vanity – the city’s pervasive and enduring sin of choice.

     

    Miami – Art Basel, 2015. Cuban food, key bumps of cocaine, ceviche y cervezas, Nikki Beach, finger dips of molly, Ted’s Hideaway, The Deuce, alleged robber shot by cop on Alton Road, Scope Art Basel, muchos tragos y marijuana, Aqua Hotel, Gramps Bar, Wood Tavern, woman stabbed at the Convention Center, 100 proof 1800 tequila, Libertine & Club Space afterhours, Wynwood Walls, dancing in art studios in Little Haiti, no sleep, ocean side balconies spilling empty beer bottles and ashtrays, bottom bunk beds and crashing on couches, coming home at 6am, 10am, noon…

     

    My second night in Miami (or technically, third morning) during Art Basel, constitutes a long ride home in a Lyft-pool at 10am from Wynwood and back to SoBe South Beach where the staff is increasingly irritable and unaccommadating, as would most people be, I assume, during the chaos that is Art Basel season). I walk, unable to sleep, past bums, homeless men and women lying in deserted doorways all along Collins and Washington; “for rent/” signs in windows, one after the other after the other… the pulse of Miami’s South Beach ; the extreme contrast of nouveau-rich and poor, increasing.

     

    TBC...

    "Victor Spinelli: Crucifixion Series"

    Hive Magazine

    I first sat down at a Brooklyn dive bar to chat with artist and photographer Victor Spinelli, after stumbling upon him and his work one crisp December day in Union Square, and met up again with him recently for Miami’s Art Basel, where his latest series ‘Crucifixion’ was on display. In our ongoing discourses, Spinelli, a New Yorker who earned his degree in architecture from the University of Buffalo, explained to me his love of travel, art history, and what it is about his latest installations that are so pertinent to our world today.


     

    A: So last time we talked, a lot of your work was centered on travel and portraiture, yet this new series is vastly different in style and medium… can you tell me a bit about how you came up with the idea?

     

    V: I came up with this idea of putting animal skeletons on crosses at some point in 2013, from where, I don't know. I held it as a secret, only telling a few family members because of its powerful message. The premise of this project questions the inability of the human race to live and share our planet with our fellow animals. We are taking over the earth and driving to extinction a great number of species. We are inhabiting their space. We are invading it. We need to learn, and quickly, on how to cohabitate on this planet with all forms of life.

     

    A: Can you describe for me a bit about your thought process for designing each cross?

     

    V: Sure. More or less, this is what my thought process was: for the Monkey cross (deemed "Hanuman" for the Hindu Monkey god), I wanted a simple wood cross because the monkey is a primate and our closest relative. For the Lion and Walrus Skull, I decided to design Celtic crosses so the skulls could fit and "float" inside of the circle. The walrus by the way has real Eskimo scrimshaw on its 19 inch ivory tusks, which makes it a cultural artifact in and among itself. For the Alligator, I wanted to position it with its head at a 90º angle to its body, which mimics the ancient Egyptian statues of the crocodile god "Sobek". I saw these statues first hand on the Nile at Crocodilopolis/Kom Ombo in Egypt. And lastly, for the Lynx, I wanted to make a more Pop Art cross with pink and this was the last piece I designed with this in mind.

     

    A: I love the symbolism and deeper meaning behind these pieces, as it’s definitely a pertinent issue today. Can you detail more about the crucifixion poses behind the series?

     

    V: Well, the history of crucifixion dates back to the Assyrians and ancient Persians well before the Romans (Pre-Christian era) used it as a very brutal form of death for disgraced soldiers, murderers, slaves etc. And now the numbers of our relentless killing (crucifying) of animals for sport, food, clothing, etc. exceeds millions if not billions per year.

     

    A: I’m digging the symbolic form. So how did you get a hold of these skeletons? I’m assuming that have been one of the most difficult parts of this project?

     

    V: Well, the origin of these skeletons and skulls were sourced through professional osteological companies. I would never source these illegally. The Walrus skull is well over 50 years of age and was most likely found by native Alaskans. Its ivory tusks have authentic Eskimo scrimshaw etched into it. The African Lion skull most likely came from a zoo. At present, the Lion is not endangered however it will most likely be put on the endangered species list in 2016 so the inclusion of this skull, for this art project, will become more important in the near future.

     

    A: Did the skeletons come pre-assembled? I can only imagine how difficult that process would be if they weren’t. What was your experience like when it came to the assemblage?

     

    V: This sculpture project required me to learn, without instructions, how to articulate these skeletons. I was delivered, literally, bags of bones. It took me hours and hours, weeks and weeks to put them together before I even started the construction of the crosses. This was my first foray into the world of sculpture and at points it seemed to go on forever. I used various materials, including steel, bronze, copper, stainless steel, Cedar, and oak wood. It was tiring yet so utterly fulfilling. And it has opened my mind toward welding, woodworking and many other artistic directions.

     

    A: Yeah, I can see how, going from a more photo-journalistic style – centered around travel, culture, and particularly portraiture – that this was quite a departure and a learning experience. Ultimately, what would you like viewers to take away from this series? What is the lasting impression that you’d like them to take with them?

     

    V: That this project is about bringing awareness to the world about what we are doing to the animals… to really show through ‘Crucifixion’ how our lifestyles and ways of thinking, which oftentimes has a lot to do with greed and consumption, is damaging and killing off elemental and highly important parts of our environment, our ecosystem, and of course, our animal species. Awareness is key, and the first fundamental step for change.

     

     

    For more on Victor Spinelli and his latest installation series ‘Crucifixion’, go to: www.SPiNGalleries.com or www.VictorSpinelli.com.

     

     

     

    "Anxiety"

    Hive Magazine

    A cultural cremation of the mind – c-cracking,

    crushing, shoveling the billion-dollar industry down your gullet, up your nostril, swallowed whole

    to cover the hole of anxiety - a patch-up job over the heart (don’t think – work, do, be, live, love, you

    are a BEAST, my friend!); an endless, steady stream of white noise that permeates you daily; seeps into the constant

    rotation in the background of your mind; you are saturated by a steady supply of ADVERTISEMENTS!

     BILLBOARDS!                                   SALES!                                   PROMOS!                  ADS!

    HERE!                                                             HERE!                         NO,

                            OVER HERE!!!

    You are the accumulation of absorbed messages; you think in terms of (you + (experiences + genetics) x culture divided by media & rounded up to the nearest dollar, dollar bill sign

    (see also: euro/pound/peso/yen).

    You are not what you want to think you are, you are what they say you are – YOU ARE AN INDIVIDUAL!             YOU ARE SPECIAL!! – YOU ARE UNIQUE!! AWESOME! TALENTED!! (Like, you are soooooo

    everythinggggg…) - it grates your fuckin’ nerves like a piece of ginger soaked in lemon and rubbed all over your burn victim body (metaphorically, of course - bc, shout-out to my burn victims bc that shit is painful, yo!)). It stings you painfully in your nether regions (metaphorically or figuratively – your choice, I fuckin’ guesssss);

    down to the very fiber of “your being”, whatever the fuck that is…  “you’re better than this,” you say, but you cannot escape the encapsulated market of out-of-control capitalism and consumerism that [surrounds you] , so you

    thumb through an AdBusters mag and think, “yes, that’s it!” but then a day goes by, and then another, and you’re in a daze and that magazine is beginning to pick up goo and dust and god-knows-what else

    as it lies

    under

    • other magazines
    • books
    • shoes
    • to-do lists (like the one you made of the things you did already)
    • jeans
    • a thousand million cords that you lose, replace, find; repeat
    • and, and, and, and,

    you wanna make the noise STOP for just A LITTLE FUCKIN’ BIT! so you hunker down, say: “Time the fuck out WURLLLD”  &

    bite/chew/swallow/crush that tiny pill (that is, by the way, way more powerful than it looks)

    & wait…                                              wait…                                      wait….

                                        In fact,

    time     has      seemed                                               to                     sloooooooooooooooooooooooooow

                                                                                                    down,

    but then, that’s when it hits you. I mean,                                really fuckin’ hits you.

    And you feel AMAZING!! MAGICAL! MAGIC FUCKING PILLS! THESE are those beeeans, man, those beans

    they were talking about

    in-in Jack and the fuckin BEANSTALK, BRO!                                              And now you’re just

    talking a bunch of crazy/batshit nonsense, but you feel ALIVE! SPECIAL! UNIQUE!!!

    YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!! EVERYTHING !!!! YOU ARE A KILLING MACHINE!!!        

    But thennnnn. Uh-oh. Wait a fuckin miiiiinute. Shit!

    Noo no no no noo…

    Not NOW dammit!! NOOOOOOOoooooooo!!!

    Now….                                               things are starting to go

    back

    to normal. (Insert sad face emoji).

     

    and you cycle down, aimlessly wander over to your phone-computer-gamer machine

    and thumb through 30,325,207 apps and feel (only a shade) guilty,

    (but not to worry, homie, you NEED those apps so fuck that)…

    and time passes and you realize that you’re no longer high and your phone dies and you think:

     

    AHHHHHHHHHHHH GTFO FML Why me??!! Why Lord, WHYYYYYY??!!! (even though you

    don’t’ believe in “God” per se, but y’know, as a figure of speech or whatever)…

     

     

    and

    yeah,

    nothing left but,

    well,

    blank space;

    silence

    and,

    oh yeah –

    what feels like

    E

    T

    E

    R

    N

    I

    T

    Y

    .

    .

     

    "The Hyperreal World of Eric Eggly"

    Lead article - APA (American Photographic Artists) 

    American photographer Eric Eggly and I recently discussed the photography industry, the various techniques and style he’s employed in the 20+ years he’s been in the photography business, as well as his latest series – ‘The Midnight Garden’, the latter of which came about from a call Eggly received from his client and sponsor FJ Westcott.

     

    A: Can you talk a little bit about how ‘The Midnight Garden’ series came about?

     

    E: ‘The Midnight Garden’ series came from a call I received from a client and sponsor of mine, FJ Westcott, a little over a year ago. I have been one of Westcott's Top Ten Pros for many years and they were having a yearlong competition [of which] the grand prize was $10k in Westcott gear and a day with one of the Westcott Top 100 pros… the Grand Prize Winner selected me to spend a day with; it was quite an honor! Knowing they were sending the winner in from California to train with me for the day, I wanted to create an image that would not only be a challenge creatively, but also teach technique.

     

    A: How did the actual concept for ‘The Midnight Garden’ series evolve? It looks like a lovely mix between ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘A Midsummer’s Eve’…

     

    E: The initial concept for the shot was a little darker version of Alice in Wonderland, and I had the help of my wife and Production Manager Sandy to help me prepare for the shoot. We had wardrobe, props, fog machine, wind machine, generators, model selections, location, location permits and make-up artists. Needless to say this turned into a full blown shoot and took several weeks to plan and prepare for…

     

    For the full article, go to: 

    "Top 30 ways to Piss off a New York City Bartender"

    Life Behind Bars (blog)

    1. Not knowing how to order. "Can I have a coke with rum, little bit of ice, and make it strong." No, no you cannot. (And just so you know I stopped listening after you said rum).

     

    2. Bitching about a $3 bottle of water when you just spent $25 on a shirt at concessions. (Yeah, you know who you are).

     

    3. Tipping in change. Who does this?! Umm, NO! Put your bag of fucking nickels away before I head-butt you. Now.

     

    4. Asking what we have on draft when it's right in front of your face.

     

    5. Worse: Asking what we have in general, when it's right in front of your face. See those bottles lined up there? Yeah...

     

    6. When I'm slammed and by the time I get to you, you say, "Ummmmmmm...(pause)..." (Next!)

     

    7. Not having your money ready when it's busy and I finally get to you with sweat dripping down my face (I'm not going to wait around for 5 min while you search your gigantic purse).

     

    8. Also, the opposite: waving your money/credit card in my face when I have both my hands full, and can obviously not take it.

     

    9. Saying, "Make it strong," and then leaving no tip.

     

    10. Being demanding or difficult. Period.

     

    11. Waving and/or yelling at your bartender. We know you're there. The louder and more annoying you are, the more we're just going to ignore you.

     

    12. Running your card every time for a $3 water or a $6 beer. It might just be me but it gets on my nerves... A couple times is okay, but seriously? The whole night? Just open up a tab or pay cash dammit!

     

    13. Asking for a martini and then scoffing when it comes in a little plastic cup. Umm, this is a concert venue, not a martini bar. Be lucky I didn't say we were out.

     

    14. Ordering drinks and then when I give them to you, you tell me you wanted them as shots. (Fuzzy Navel shots, really?) Unless it's something obvious like a kamikaze (which your bartender will probably ask you if you want as a drink or a shot), tell them when you order. (Fuzzy Navel shots, really??)

     

    15. Ordering $30 worth of drinks and then leaving $1.

     

    16. Worse: Telling us you're a bartender, then ordering $30 worth of drinks and leaving $1. Shameful.

     

    17. When you ask how to get somewhere in the venue, and I give you slow, specific directions, and you respond, "So I go...(pause)..." (For the love of god, PLEASE! When you ask a question, listen to the answer!)

     

    18. Asking me to hold your shit. Unless you slide me 20 bucks that's what the coat checks for.

     

    19. Ordering and then leaving. (No, your drinks will not be there when you return).

     

    20. Making a point to say it's your birthday does not entitle you to free drinks. This isn't Baskin Robbins.

     

    21. Thinking its cute when you say a corny line to be flirty.

    It's not. Stop it.

     

    22. When I tell you what beers we have and then you ask for one I didn't say.

     

    23. Worse: When I tell you what beers we have and then you ask for one I didn't say, twice.

     

    24. Handing me your credit card and then saying, "This might not go through."

     

    25. Asking me for napkins and/or straws when you can obviously see that they are 3 inches from your hand.

     

    26. You ask, "What's the strongest drink we have?" and I say a Long Island. Then you order an Amaretto Sour. (What the...)

     

    27. Looking at the beer selection and then saying, "Is that all you have?" (No, we have more hidden away, just waiting for people like you to ask).

     

    28. Spilling your drink somewhere and then coming and expecting me to give you another one. Yeeaah, thaaat's, not gonna happen. Ever.

     

    29. Trying to barter. I don't feel I need to explain this one.

     

    30. Touching me or trying to grab my arm to get my attention. People have been slapped for less.

    "Shelter from the Rain"

    Dovetail Literary Review

    I sit at the end of a wooden bar, next to a dusty jukebox, exhaling a raspy Cash song;

     a song for the mishaps, the lonelies, the long-forgots:

     

    "The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars"

     

    his voice curls around the cigarette smoke; puffs of ghosts that disappear, reappear, and die. The wooden bar is long and stained; old like the family dining table in the little blue house at the end of Thistle Lane; a little blue house that burnt down years ago, where only remnants of sticky memories remain.

     

    Ole' John slides me a cheap bourbon with a far-away look; his grey beard is sparse and patchy; face gaunt beneath tired, coal-colored eyes; his hands still shake since he gave up drinking two years back.

     

    The bourbon burns; filters its way down, down, past the loneliness, the lack, the space in between memory and time.

     

    "And by night rants and rages at the stars     God help the beast in me"

     

    I hear the crack of a billiards break, empty beer bottles clink, a blonde bobbed woman giggling hiccups with noticeable wrinkles from too many days slumped in the sun. She giggles another hiccup and sucks the remainder of her cigarette, before squeezing it in with the other inmates.

     

    "And even somehow manage to vanish in the air                  and that is when I must beware                     the beast in me"

     

    I head towards the bathroom; one bulb out, the other dangling and blinking, clutching at the frayed strands of life. The mirror is cracked, and in it, my distortion. I pull out the tiny roach from my jacket pocket and take the last dying drags before tossing it into the sink where it sizzles and dies. Gripping the edge of the sink, I look up and my eyes meet my own; my face yellow and useless; a reflection deserving of punishment I can't quite place.

     

    Back at the bar, another bourbon, then two more, back to back. My veins are on fire; my blood, purified; after the fourth, everything's fire: my nerves, the blue house, the secrets, her secrets...

     

    Across, the blonde woman titters as she stands to leave with the scowl-faced gray man in a fleece sweater; a new boyfriend, I suppose. (She still wears the scar above her left eyebrow, a scar we both share, just in different places).

     

    "God help the beast in me                                                      the beast in me"

     

    My eyes drown in the smoke; the stale smell of old beer; forced laughter and unkept promises. The woman's eyes too, drown, as she leans on her new man; his fingers pressed into her skinny arm; his lips brush her ear, whispering dark nothings. I can feel the fingerprint bruises forming beneath.

     

    And then she is gone. Disappeared. A ghost, a dangerous dream, a wisp of smoke, a buried bone; and I am left to purify my blood with the spirit of bourbon, to the toxic intoxication that I am nobody's daughter.  

    "Mind Universe - Down the Rabbit Hole with Naoto Hattori"

    Beautiful Bizarre (print edition)

     

    The hallucinogenic landscape of Japanese artist and creator Naoto Hattori is filled with a variety of doe-eyed dolls and grinning creatures, where the thematic elements of the celestial world meet the organic natural world and fibers, roots, cells and membranes weave their way throughout underlining the idea of connectivity between all things in nature, science, and humanity. Naoto Hattori’s bizarre array of dolls and fantastical creatures can only be described as a modern-day visual poetry, in which he blends together oppositions of nature and manmade into one seamless yet intricately developed image. Not one to compromise, Hattori’s artwork, he says, “stems from the depths of his inner mind – stream of consciousness painting.”

    In paintings like Life Energy and Evanescent Memory, we see the roots branch out from creatures’ heads and sprawl towards colorful particles that dot the background like a celestial coat of dust. The roots – evoking not only the idea of connectedness, but of permanence or the “root of all things” –  link together past, present, and future and underline the chaotic nature of our world; a world in which we are bound to not only history but one another – plants, animals, space and time. Similarly, mushrooms and mushroom-capped animals – Shroom Collector, Shroomheads – add additional earthly elements to his work, but also – with the visual aid of membranes and cells – link the viewer to the various states of consciousness and the third eye, while the emphasis on eyes continue the parallel of the “mind’s eye” and the “all seeing eye”, which again, link the viewer to consciousness and the universal or collective conscious. 

    “Everyone can see something in their head when they close their eyes,” says Hattori. “The visionary world has an endless flow of imagination, and if you practice on expanding your visionary world, you will be amazed by the potential capabilities of your brain… Painting is the best way for me to share my vision.”

    Hattori’s vision is expansive and enduring, and his paintings like Planimal and Finding the Reincarnation mix together earthly elements of plant and animal as well as the symbolic reoccurrence of trees, which conjure and parallel that of earth, wisdom, strength and permanence; skulls and skeletal images, which symbolize the temporary and fleeting, history and past, life and death – are also thematic throughout his work, drawing on the cycle of all living, breathing things. These multi-dimensional characters are in one sense, disorienting and futuristic, and in another, magically hypnotic and mythological; they both allure the viewer in and, once there, provoke them to go even deeper. In this, the idea of the “mind universe”, as Hattori calls it, is very fifth element in nature, and the artist utilizes this in creating his works by using both planetary dimensions and mother earth as a base from which to jump. 

    Though born in Yokohama, Japan, Hattori studied Graphic Design in Tokyo and later, New York City’s School of Visual Arts, where in 2000 he received a BFA in illustration. He began sketching and experimenting creatively at a young age, soaking up and reimagining the Japanimation and Manga of his youth. Later, he tells me, the influence of graffiti and street art came to inspire many of his works, as is apparent in paintings like Ideal and Untamed Thoughts
    “My life is art,” he says, “so I can't tell what's going to happen next… I always think of the moment and paint what I feel at that exact time; I'm not the type of artist who always wanted to paint a master piece, as art is more like a meditation and a daily routine to me.”
    His upcoming shows include Beautiful Bizarre’s group exhibition at Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo this coming April (2016), as well as his solo exhibition at CHG Circa Gallery in California – September 2017. 

     

     

    "Rethinking Evolution: ‘We Are the New They"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    Ron English unveils his new work, ‘NeoNature’, a boldly symbolic exhibit at the Corey Helford Gallery. English’s first solo exhibit in Los Angeles in two years, “NeoNature: We Are the New They” examines the art of evolution, civilization, and the parallel of instinct and intellect. In his own words, Ron English describes the overall essence of his upcoming show:

    “We are the new They. And we will materialize joy by thinking as a species. We have evolved to survive in times incongruous with nature, where instinct won’t save us. Our intellect is our fang. NeoNature examines the art of evolution, the flaw that propels civilization. The mutation of the ordinary stubbornly conjures new worlds.

    Evolution is everything—wings flap and echoes trigger new means. It is intellectual communication. What is a butterfly pattern but a flamboyant yet fragile grab at the chance to spread the dust of its wings into new and larger worlds, a chance to seed before being consumed.”

     

    Ron English ‘NeoNature’

     

    These explorations into the evolutionary chain of humanity force the viewer to intellectually interact as well as contemplate the artist’s vision through visual dialogue on the themes of evolutionary alternatives, ongoing shifts in nature, and mankind’s intervention and role in these shifts. Juxtaposition, a key factor in his latest work, combines both the elements and attributes of different species to create something new, and English also combines different material elements – sculpture, photography, oil painting – to add depth and layering to the work.

    “We are the genetic result of selective breeding for happiness rather than survival,” writes English. “Our superhero is no longer the strongman, but his conceiver, the writers and artists who elevate reptilian dreams, as the beasts of our evolutionary past tromp from forest to suburban tree-line, convinced we are only their dream, yet compelled to peer into our windows.”

     

    https://beautifulbizarre.net/2015/12/13/ron-english-neonature-corey-helford-gallery/

    "The Whimsical World of Stitch of Whimsy"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    Parading the walls in dreamy pastels and sugared candy colors: Welcome to the whimsical world of Stitch of Whimsy, created by the very talented Sara Leigh. A South Florida-based artist, seamstress, and self-proclaimed huntress, Leigh specializes in what she calls “candy-coated faux taxidermy” – delectable, custom-made delights that are inspired by her own enchantment in all things mythical and magical.

    Spanning the entire enchanted forest, her and her crew create these special custom-made creations with “lots of love and during odd hours of the night,” says Leigh, and in each piece can once discover a unique sparkle of personality; be it mischievousness in the Sugar Panda, playfulness in the Candy Lamb, or curiosity in the Candied Sugar Fawn, they are all oddly adorable and exude some serious Candyland vibes. It also stirs up memories of my childhood imagination, which ran wild with snow princesses’, Strawberry Shortcake, gumdrops and Rainbow Brite. It is that eternal childhood wonder, awe, and eager curiosity that Stitch in Whimsy whirls up again . They also carry an uncanny resemblance to the highly-underrated plush series, Yum Yums – a Hallmark collection briefly lived during the 1980’s, which also spun out sugary plush creatures with not only candies decorating their bellies, ears and feet, but even smelt of the yummy treats themselves. (I’m not going to lie, I still own a few from my childhood, and upon seeing the mark-up prices on eBay, I’m glad I did!)

     

    But back to Sara Leigh, whose name alone already stirs my scent memory of baked goods and creamy cakes; Leigh admits that her deep love of the stars, the forest and its many unusual creatures – tiny gnomes, fantastical elves, fluttering fairies – is an influence and inspiration in her work, and she puts an incredible amount of delicacy and care into each and every one of her mixed media sculptures, which she calls her ‘Whimsies’. Ultimately, she says her mission for Stitch of Whimsy is to “spark something wild and free in the imaginations and the conversations of children and adults alike.” As a grown adult who is already fawning over these fantasy creatures, I would no doubt, have to concur.

     

    Follow her and her parade of cotton candy creations on Facebook or Instagram, or go directly to her shop on Etsy!

    All photos courtesy of Kris Starry of Starry Night Photography.

     

    https://beautifulbizarre.net/2015/11/12/the-whimsical-world-of-stitch-of-whimsy/

     

    "A Journey through Fairy Tale with Kristin Baugh Shiraef"

    Beautiful Bizarre

    From womanhood to childhood and back again, Kristin Baugh Shiraef’s paintings take us on a journey into the dreamy, otherworldly realms of fairy tale, the imagination, and beyond. Some of her latest works will be featured at Vanilla Gallery's group exhibition "Aesthetic" in Tokyo, curated by Beautiful Bizarre's own Danijela Krha.

    I had the privilege of interviewing Shiraef and further exploring the depths of her work, her inspirations, challenges, as well as my own journey of interpretation and understanding into her symbolic and thematic elements. Along the way I discovered an immersive and continually unfolding story, as in the paintings and illustrations of Luna Rose and Lullabies Luster, which mirror the girl/woman paradox - complete with all of her mystery, rapturous nature, and divine complexities that manifest within the multi-dimensional self. As glimpsed in these and many other of her works, Shiraef sets the mood from her characters’ gaze, which comes full circle by mirroring that of the viewers’; this enchanting draw into the thick of fantastical narrative is simultaneously framed with elegant romanticism and feminine embellishments, further creating a mood that lulls and stirs like a melancholic lullaby.

    By illuminating this passage of the young woman and the voyage of her femininity, Shiraef takes us deep into the blossom of these wistful beauties, who bob elegantly through the poetry of paint. In this space, time becomes ever-more subjective and the eternal moment can be quietly found within the confines of the artist's mind and what has crystallized from within it. In this way, her pieces are timeless yet ephemeral – reminiscent of captured childhood dreams and memories, nursery rhymes and play pretend; the place for which youthful longing and imagination knows no limit.

    “What has driven me more towards fantasy than realism is the ability it allows me to explore my thoughts outside the restrictions of ‘reality’,” Shiraef explains. “Fantasy allows artists like myself to illustrate in a way that aids children and adults alike to understand certain concepts that might otherwise be confusing under the laws of ‘reality’… Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, The Never Ending Story and The Dark Crystal are examples of fantastical stories which have charmed hearts of all demographics from all over the world, creating stories that not only help us see things in a greater light, but allow our imaginations to take flight in a world where boundaries don’t exist.”

    Drawn to the fantastical and the mythological, many of Shiraef’s works showcase a smorgasbord of mermaids, unicorns, fairies and nymphs, as in The Last of Us – an alluringly demure painting of an enchanting mermaid with glimmering scales and a steady gaze; she is both the innocent child and the intoxicating siren, representative of Western society’s patriarchal depiction of the duality of women. In this and many others, Shiraef has a knack for creating unabashed expressions and characters in rapt attention. Similarly, Other Worldly Likeness is provocatively demure, quietly bold, and softly teasing, inflecting a variety of moods and tones onto the viewer in one still image. Likewise, the varietal of blooming flowers interspersed throughout - colored in vibrant rouges, minty pastels, and burgeoning golds – symbolize the bountiful beauty of nature and our intrinsic connection within it.

    “I believe the environment with which I surround myself greatly affects my creativity,” Shiraef adds. “Though the way that I express my passion and desire are not solely defined by this, only guided… hard work and determination ultimately define my work.”

    This idea of the unknown, powerful self-emerging – as in the work Defiance – is symbolic of Shiraef’s own determination and strong will, and parallels the breaking through the noise of self-doubt in order to stir into the light of a new day. The end result of which, though in all appearances effortless, is rooted in the process of her own journey, one which has not been without challenges. Imaginative blocks, she tells me, easily hamper the creative process and leave many artists like herself at a stalemate – particularly for a young woman like Shiraef who, in recent years, had to negotiate the balance between her passion for art and music with that of her marriage and newborn child.

    “The responsibilities of becoming a new wife and mother in just a few short years, the constant ache at finding the right means for expressing myself but without the knowledge of how, and the urgency to find my purpose in a talent that I still hadn't fully explored… these were just a few things that created frustrations and ultimately a desire to give up on my artistic dream. But I never did give up. To overcome this block, I had to fight through it… I kept drawing, sculpting, doing photography, painting murals, writing music and tutoring art – anything I could do to let out what was locked inside me. Eventually through these experiences, many other doors opened for me, and my backbone, my husband and family, were there to provide me with security and support so I could freely express myself artistically – and in the best possible way.”

    Family and nurture, a huge part of Shiraef’s daily life, comes through in her work, as can be seen in The Beast, Perched, and Feral: in the former, masculinity and femininity converge together to create a nurturing and protective embrace, and the latter evokes self-protection and self-nurture; a safe place in which the woman can contemplate self-identity, self-actualization, and growth on an individual level. Others like My Darling show woman as herself literally one with nature as she embraces her natural being, and the tree – solid wood – blooms with flowers speckled in crimson and sunset gold. These elements of the life force – fire, wood, wind and water – are thematic throughout Shiraef’s work and continue to conjure the emerging and unfolding stages of the life cycle.

    “Throughout my childhood,” she says, “ballet and dancing was my life, which captivated my imagination in both music and the beautiful art of motion… nothing compliments art quite like music, and it's music that allows me to express even more emotion within my work…Growing up with games like, The Legend of Zelda, the fun and brilliant world of Mario, fable, folklore, and so many other fantastical worlds, not only allowed me to follow a story as one does with their favorite book, but to visually walk in the world of that artist and view their creation in every way possible… Ultimately, the ability to portray all forms of my work together in one cohesive experience – through music, artwork, characters and story – is truly an overwhelming and incredible thing. It presents endless possibilities that will entertain me for a lifetime, and hopefully, in terms of interaction and engagement, my audience as well."

    All in all, it has been a wonderfully hypnotic experience to discover the work of Kristin Baugh Shiraef, and to, as she illuminates herself, peek inside her mind and the fantastical world that she has been able to express through her art – a world filled with enchanting fairy tales, magical lore, and a storybook brimming with magic, fantasy, and timeless beauty of intoxicating proportions.

     

     “A Blizzard, Two Boroughs, and My (Unknowing) Ascent into the World of Polyamory”

    A small tagline

    It was at the onset of Storm Jonas – Friday, February 22nd, to be exact – that I would unwittingly get a crash course in the world of polyamory.

    I had, rather unknowingly, walked into one of these polyamorous communities in Bushwick, Brooklyn during the recent snow-apocalypse that was Storm Jonas, invited by a member of this “intentional community”, who I had known awhile back but hadn’t seen in some time. My initial reaction, upon hearing the term polyamory was, well: “wtf is polyamory?” According to More Than Two’s website (www.morethantwo.com), it’s meticulously explained as: “…based on the Greek and Latin for “many loves” (literally, poly many + amor love); a polyamorous person is someone who has or is open to having more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all their partners; a polyamorous relationship is a romantic relationship where the people in the relationship agree that it’s okay for everyone to be open to or have other romantic partners; polyamory is the idea or practice of being polyamorous or having polyamorous relationships.” Or I suppose, put simply - consensual non-monogamy. More Than Two even has an entire page dedicated to the management of and dealing with the issues of jealousy and (in)security that will most undoubtedly poke its head out from behind the “oh, it’s all cool” façade, time and again – regardless of whether you are male, female, straight, gay, bi, and so forth. Ultimately, what I learned is that, repeatedly, the emphasis is maintained on communication, respect, and mutual consent for all parties involved. Soooo, with that said, my next reaction would be: “how tf did I not know about this sooner??”

    Something clicked for me – especially after being, back-to-back, twice divorced – and I’m just now thirty-three. One part of me was titillated; incredibly curious and open to these hither-to-unknown possibilities – like someone plucking a trinket box buried deep inside your very own closet, and going – “here, check this out. You might like it.” But another part of me was honestly thinking: could I really do this, or is this one of those things that happens when life has suddenly turned into an endless stretch of uneventful dreariness and you’re bored and/or fed up with the way things have been and failed? Well, I suppose there’s only one way to figure that all out…

    So after spending an unintended but enormously rewarding couple of days at this particular Bushwick polyamorous community – a 3-story, 3-unit building with around 20+ roommates at any given time, complete with basement event space and outdoor hot tub – I was affectionately drawn into the subtle world that is polyamory; from completely unawares to poly-curious in the span of two hours… Who would’ve thought? But as fate/luck/chance would have it, when I parted those crushed velvet curtains, just past the entrance to the main door, and up those wooden stairs, I was inadvertently going (up into?) the rabbit hole; and not just for a night, but for a whole weekend long, indoor rendezvous, while the blizzard outside had New York City’s streets coated in feet of snow, all non-emergency vehicles ordered off the road after 2:30pm, and subways lines shut down after at 4pm. Locked inside a funhouse with fun people and booze? Sounds like a good way to start a Saturday afternoon…

    Now, you may be thinking – how does one stumble upon such goodness? Well, it wasn’t merely by accident, well, at least not entirely; but I did happen to know someone – a friend from back in my Webster Hall bartending days (it seems everyone knows someone who knows someone from Webster Hall, inevitably) – who just so happened to reach out to me on Facebook after a couple years absence, to simply say that he’d recently moved into an “intentional community” in Bushwick, was the happiest he’d been in a very long time, and if I’d ever been to a “burner” event, to which I responded: “wtf is a burner event?” and to which he replied: “[they are] very fanciful themed immersive events, sometimes involving crazy art installs, performances, seminars; interactive, and usually request participation in the intention… no tourists! You like EDM and the like? There's one this Friday... costumes required. I'll send you the FB invite.”

     

    Well, as is now obvious, I did respond, I did go, and the costume party, where I dressed in full “Gothic Lolita” regalia, would end up taking me on a journey both to Manhattan - Santo’s House Party (iFeel) – where neon-glow paint abounded and a haze of dancing to deep electronic – curtailed occasionally by us sauntering into large, harem-style enclaves where people laid and perhaps sensually caressed one another – all of which lasted until the early morning hours (5am, I think?) before making our way back through the onset of storm Jonas (thanks to a homie I brought along – another newbie to the scene who would be our DD, aka storm-savior!) and back into the depths of Brooklyn for hot tub dips beneath a wooden enclosure (whilst looking out onto the blizzard now well underway as our steaming stew of bodies create a blanket of ephemeral mist around us; a ghostly lagoon against the batter of snowfall), running naked through knee-deep snow (sans clothing but borrowed galoshes), and inside for fur-lined vibrating back massages beneath black lights and tripped out music… all this between delicious bites of on-the-spot cooked, blood dripping from the bone rack of lamb, homemade veggie spring rolls, and concoctions of hot apple cider stirred with generous portions of Knob Creek Smoked Maple Whiskey. Oh, and bacon pancakes. Bacon. Pancakes.

    Not only was this particular community open, relaxed, and inviting (read: zero-pressure and no weirdness), but they also love to cook, share, and feed your mind and body in (yes, sexual and non-sexual) ways. Choice is yours. Sharing and an open receptivity seem to be the underlying pillars along with mutual respect and open communication that support this polyamorous community, which just so happens to be, of all places, in a beautiful brick building on an unassuming street in the Brooklyn borough of Bushwick.

     

    Shared intimacy and food? Yes, please!

     

     

    "Along the Klongs"*

    Dovetail Literary Review

    i am the Wind breathing through lotus leaves they bend

    in the subtle breeze granules of sugar swirled in Oolong tea the humid

    Air of an amethyst Sky turned gray i am the temple walls above

    algae colored Water that flows flows flows

    over waterfalls foam in serene pools at its basin; emerging, to a place in between

    time i am the damp footprints in sand along the ancient beach washed born anew with each rising Sun

    of the eastern Sky i unfold myself merging with the bamboo

    colored leaves dew that drips into the Earth becoming

    everything yet disappearing entirely i am the Sky now turned

    to Fire blazing in gemstones of ruby and sapphire

     

    *canals that run through Thailand

    BRINGING DEATH TO LIFE: SKULLPTURES WITH JACK OF THE DUST

    Beautiful Bizarre

    Jack of the Dust, otherwise known as Andrew “Andy” Firth, transmutes death into life with his series of skullptures, handcrafted from the depths of Australia’s Gold Coast. His Jack of the Dust trademark, derived from maritime terminology, comes from “an obsolete US Navy job designation from the 1800’s; this person was the ship’s steward, who worked with the dusty ingredients of flour and biscuits.” Firth took the mostly retired name and repurposed it as Jack for the name of his skulls, and “dust” referencing their death symbolism.

    Bonsai gardens, cherry blossoms, bee hives and painted joker faces decorate the skull facades, which the artist says are “based on a premium European grad PVC plastic human anatomy skull, molded off a real human skull,” and “premium grade artistic variations of the human skull.” So no, the skulls are not real (I’ve been asked twice in the short period of writing this article) but they are as close to real as you can get.

     

    His skullptures are visually stimulating, stirring works of beauty and craftsmanship, and the outcome is majestic, if macabre. The semiotics/symbolism of faux human remains are intriguing; we like the idea of death, we like to be as close to death as possible but only if it allows us to feel more alive – quite a paradox of living, I’d say.

    The artistic replication of life-like skulls draws our attention to everything no one wants to talk about – at least in a very concrete, non-abstract way: death. Even in this period of skull fascination and popularity, what skulls represent outside of the artistic framework is, at their most raw and basic form, a direct correlation to our own mortality. In this way, Jack of the Dust’s skullptures allows us to see skulls differently. Death now breeds life, in the way of gardens and flowers and crystals. On the flip side, the skulls also turn into morbid, garish creatures and pop-culture icons, via villains like the joker and superheroes like Ironman. The most recent joker (played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad) comes complete with an acid green stained scalp, bomb-smoked eye sockets, and two rows of grittily gleaming silver teeth. For Game of Thrones fans like myself, there’s White Walker Skull and the Obsidian Dragon Glass Skull.

    Using the human skull as a platform from which to build, Jack of the Dust flips natural decomposition and converts it into creation, stimulation, and growth. Things literally appear to grow and move along the skullptures – Spring Bonsai Mountain Skull has a faux waterfall pouring out of an eye socket, which sits just below a bonsai garden with mossy grass the color of squeezed limes. It’s a visual representation symbolic of the circle of life – from death to life, and back again; and so the cycle continues, on and on, seemingly infinite. Jack of the Dust’s skullptures are a mortal varietal in amethyst crystals, gold dust and cherry blossoms, both exquisite and morbid, delicate and unnerving.

     

    (For full article, go to: https://beautifulbizarre.net/2016/08/25/bringing-death-to-life-skullptures-with-jack-of-the-dust/)

     

    ANYTHING HELPS – GOD BLESS

    Artists United to End Homelessness

     

    They slept in a beat-up van down by the canal, smelling of b.o. and pet urine as they counted change and smoked pot. They’d hoped it wouldn’t last long this time, taking turns panhandling over near city center; usually Walter near the corner by the grocery store, and Liz further up along the busier parts of Main Avenue; she waddled along, her padded sweatshirt exaggerating a faux-pregnant belly – people always gave more this way.

     

    They were the type of people you looked right through… maybe bummed a cigarette or loose change to. I wouldn’t blame you if you hesitated – they’d been liars and thieves and once-upon-a-time junkies, though now they just smoked pot and listened to NPR on the radio, piling together their accumulated cash in hopes of getting a non-squat living situation that consisted of something sans wheels – a place where they could be junkyard dogs scratching at themselves with no one to bother them.

     

    “Sixty-five, today!”

    “Nice, Mickey. Where’d you pan?”

    “Over on 19th and Mill… got some food too. And scored a dime sack.”

    “Good. Gimme gas money.”

    “Suki!”

    “Yo.”

    “What’d you make?”

    “What’s it to you-“

    “C’mon girl, don’t gimme any shit-“
    “Yeah, yeah don’t be a wanker. I made thirty-two…”

    “Up near the park?”

    “Yeah.”

     

    Ace, Suki’s ten-year-old son, learned to pull a sad scowl when they panned, dirtying his face even further so you felt like an asshole if you didn’t help the kid and his hippie mother; you’d slip a couple bills into the tin while Sukie strummed on her ukulele, the kid steady scowling at you, but you’d think: “Well, I did my good deed for the day,” before moving on and forgetting instantly. Periodically Ace would run across the street to the bodega and grab a can of Coke and a couple a’ lucies for Liz.

     

    Turnip, a stray cat that stuck around, was the only fat one in the “family”, and a solid bit meaner, terrorizing Liz and Walt’s two young pit-bulls Sonny and Cher –a couple of actual junkyard dogs that sniffed about the bushes, searching for scraps. Ace was scared of Turnip, as would you – her mean marble eyes following you around, her razor claws glinting in the hard sunlight like machetes tapping on the pavement.

     

    “Ace! Get over here!”

    Hold on –“

    “Now!!”

    “I’m hungry!”

    “Get outta that dumpster –“

    “Aww, Sukie let the kid –“

    “Yo, when you have a kid –“

    “Fuckin CHRIST! Will both a you SHUT THE FUCK –“

     

    In the ruckus, Ace crossed the lot and into the apartment complex. He passed through the kid’s playground, a nasty sandpit of outdated and unsafe plastic that faded in the glare of the Phoenix sun. Nasia was plopped on the tire swing, dangling her stubby, dark limbs over the edges looking lonely and poor. Ace went up to her; she saw him approach and kept swinging with much effort. When Ace felt ignored, he became obnoxious in retaliation, so he screwed up his face and gave the tire swing a ferocious push, sending Nasia flying, where she fell in the gritty sand, blackening her knees and her palms, her face going red.

     

    “Shithead!”

    “Pssshh.”

    “I’m gonna tell my mama –“

    “Don’t be such a crybaby. You’re a black little crybaby.”

    “Yeah? You a, a-a brown lil turd that yo mama pooed out one day.”

    “Hah! You worse then poo… Imma call you Black Baby Turd Face. That’s what you are, Black Baby –“

     

    And Nasia was about to reply, quick as goddamn whip she was, but saw one of the lucies tucked behind Ace’s ear. And there’s nothing quite like the sacred secret of smoking a cigarette – an adult cigarette – when you’re just a nub of a child.

     

    “Where you get that cigarette?”

    “None of your beeswax.”

    “Give it hear.”

    “Wha? You crazier than I thought –“

    “Let’s smoke it. C’mon. Who’s the baby now?”
    I got it, don’t I? A course Imma smoke it…”

    “Less see then. I don’t believe you.”

     

    And so the two of them tore off for the empty lot behind the dumpsters, where the apartment complex kids went to smoke, amble about, swap stolen goods – nothing big, small-time crap like gas store snacks and magazines; sometimes baseball cards.

     

    “Give it here,” Nasia said.

    “Wait!” he puffed, holding back a vicious cough. “I just lit it!”

    “You takin’ too long.”

    “Here,” he coughed, handing it to here. She grabbed at it, greedily, eyes going wide. She took a drag and let it out instantly, feeling three shades of cool.

    “Hey idiot, you didn’t even inhale!”

    “Did so!”

    “Did not! You don’t even know howta smoke… give it here!” Ace snatched it from her small fingers, inhaling deeply and coughing a little less this time.

     

    Night was coming on and the streetlights flickered its arrival. It was hot, down by the canal a bit cooler, and Liz and Walt sat on a mattress in the back rolling cigarettes, sprinkling weed on top, while Suki strummed her ukulele absently in the front passenger seat. Some kids kicked at a ball out in the dirt, and a row of traffic crossed in the distance, creating a strange series of lights in the dusky light.

     

    “What’d you make?” Walt asked Suki, who kept playing her ukulele. “Hey, how much you make!”

    “Calm down. Twenty-five.”

    “That’s it?”

    “That’s it.”

    Walt turned toward Liz with a frown, but she simply raised her eyebrows and took a big pull off the joint.

    “With a goddamn kid you’d think…” Walt mumbled.

    “Don’t,” Liz said, touching his arm. She offered him the joint, the streetlight illuminating the dirt beneath her fingernails. She nudged back a scrap of hair and wiped her nose with her sleeve, leaning back against the van wall.

    “I’m gonna take Ace with me to Smith’s,” she said finally. “Get some food. We’re low… Y’know how much that grocery store throws away? It’s unbelievable.” Walt was counting money and only grunted in reply, the twangs of Suki’s ukulele filling the van against the cars rushing by in the distance.

    “No gas money,” Walt said. “You’re walkin’.”

    “Ace!” she called, pushing out the van’s back doors.

     

     

    They walked hand-in-hand the mile or so to the store, cars cruising by, kicking up dust. They crossed an overpass, looking tired beneath the streetlights that blazed fluorescent in the darkness.

    “Hey,” Liz said. “How about a big ole fat chicken dinner tonight?” She grinned down at Ace.

    “Yeah,” he said. “And apple pie… and fries!”

    “Yeah,” Liz said. “Yeah.” And they pushed on, renewed with hope at the visions of dumpster-dive finds.

     

     

     

     

     

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