medium /// art for your ear : podcast




“infinite passion”

Yayoi Kusama. Can you imagine, not only meeting her, but getting to spend time with her – over years – while making a documentary about her incredible life? Well, that is exactly what my guest did. American filmmaker Heather Lenz first fell in love with the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama years ago during art school … and in 2018 she watched her film, Kusama Infinity, premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. AMAZING. It is such a beautiful movie on so many levels. Kusama is now 89, and I think it’s beyond fantastic that Heather was able to document this very important artist’s life in person. Just imagine, Heather got to sit with Kusama … watching her work, asking her questions, listening to stories about her time in New York, Japan, Venice and more. You can listen right up there under Kusama in her fabulous red wig, or subscribe on iTunes.

Heather did a wonderful job of telling Kusama’s story, from childhood until now. Here are just a few images that take us through this fascinating life:

Ah, yes … Kusama’s early paintings, the dizzying infinity net paintings, and literally boatloads of soft sculptures.

And then, of course, her very famous dots:

… and she’s still doing them today. In fact, she’s probably putting dots on something right this very second!

There are so many gorgeous images in the film too. These are two of my favorites, from Kusama’s early days in New York:

Gah! So stylish.

Ok, this might be one of my favorite Kusama adventures. This is when she showed up to the 1966 Venice Biennale, uninvited, and created her installation titled “Narcissus Garden”:

After she got in trouble for selling her orbs to visitors, she laid amongst them in a red unitard knowing full well the press would cover such a beautiful spectacle. She was right.

Skip ahead almost thirty years, and here we are in Venice again. This time it’s 1993 and Kusama was invited to represent Japan at the Biennale… this was hugely important for two reasons. One, she was the first woman to represent Japan, and two, in previous years Japan typically sent several artists, not just one:

Her exhibition included a range of work including a mirror room, small yellow pumpkin sculptures, and more. But this was not the first or last of Kusama’s spectacular infinity rooms:

So brilliant, and ridiculously beautiful.

Speaking of which, this is the woman we’ve been talking to. The tenacious and passionate Heather Lenz:

Inspiring and unbelievably determined … both of them! If you can see this film, please see it. We only touched on a fraction of the stories … there is so much MORE. Huge thanks to Heather for her dedication and unrelenting passion that was required to make this wonderful piece of art history come to life… I think she and Kusama have a lot in common when it comes to forging ahead no matter what. Thank you to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode, and thank YOU for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Kusama Infinity Movie Trailer
  2. Where to see the film : US website Everywhere else website
  3. Kusama Infinity Movie on Instagram
  4. Heather on Instagram
  5. Bontoc Eulogy {film}

ps. The official trailer … it’s soooo good!





“peeling paint”

Episode no. 150! Well, what better way to celebrate that huge milestone than to talk to an artist who I’ve been trying to get on the podcast for ages… yep, Los Angeles based painter Seonna Hong is my guest today! We’re talking process, day jobs {yes, she has a day job on top of her art practice!?}, Care Bears, and tiger lilies. Oh, and I also told her about Nanaimo Bars. Apparently her Canadian husband has been holding out on her? Listen right up there under “The Magic Number”, or subscribe on iTunes.

First, Seonna’s latest work, from a show titled “Things Will Get Better”, that was recently showing at Hashimoto Gallery in San Francisco:

I mean, come on! Those lumps and bumps are the chunks of peeled paint we were talking about. Digital images don’t do these pieces justice… if you ever get a chance to see them in person, do it!

Now, just to prove that I’ve been fan-girling over Seonna’s work for years, here are the first pieces I wrote  about, way back in 2009:

Gorgeous, and a great example of her evolution as an artist {and the aging of her model/daughter!}.

Next up… animals! I love Seonna’s animals, which often serve as “emotional totems” in her work:

Zebras, and tigers, and bears, oh my! And yes, how cool is it that her daughter’s name is Tiger Lily? So. Cool.

Ok, I can’t believe I forgot to bring this up, but I have to show you Seonna’s paint chip paintings because, well, you’ll see:

Oh, I love these so, so much! When we were at Hashimoto for my book signing {because yes, Seonna’s in my latest book}, I asked her about them. Apparently my guess was right… she has to rotate which paint/hardware stores she hits up. I wonder if they have posters up… WATCH FOR THIS PAINT CHIP HOARDING WOMAN.

And this. HOW did I not bring this up during the Not-So-Speedy Speed Round? This was Halloween 2016, before Seonna and I really knew each other … well, beyond Instagram that is:

Great minds think alike … and dress like the Royal Tenenbaums. Yep, turns out we have more than just our birth year, Care Bears, Garfield, and love of treehouses in common! Thanks to Seonna for finally coming on the podcast {and for letting me share her story/work in my book}; thank you to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode, and thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Current group show at Heron Arts, San Francisco
  2. Upcoming show at Ayzenberg Group, Los Angeles {curated by Mark Todd}
  3. Post It Show No.14, Giant Robot, Los Angeles {Dec 1 – 9}
  4. Seonna on Instagram
  5. Lauren Mycroft, Artist
  6. Nanaimo Bar Recipe
  7. A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK … Now With Women
  8. Treehouse Masters

 





“white noise”

An audio podcast with a Deaf artist? Yep. Sound waves, gestural strokes and the story of an artist who lost and then found her hearing. Canadian Kelsie Grazier is my guest, and ps. we’re working on getting a transcript created so that other Deaf, and hard of hearing, people can read our conversation. Kelsie’s work is beautiful, quiet, and filled with movement & elegant lines. Her story is as beautiful as her work, and I’m so proud to know her a little bit better after today. You can listen right under Kelsie’s signing hands {part of a new series she’s just started}, or subscribe on iTunes.

First up, let’s set the mood with one of the recent pieces in Kelsie’s “White Noise” series, titled “Trim Your Moustache”:

Ha! Beautiful and pretty funny… lips can’t be read if they’re covered up by a moustache, dude!

Next, three more in this series, along with close-ups of Kelsie’s lovely white lines:

Aren’t they gorgeous? I can’t even imagine those lines being black. Thank goodness for all of that tossing and turning that helped Kelsie land on this dreamy a-ha moment.

Next, her “breakthrough” painting that she mentioned, along with the experimental light-box from her Emily Carr days:

Ok, yes… more light-boxes please! She’s onto something there.

Speaking of new experiences, here is a peek at Kelsie’s very first mural in the entrance of The Profile, a co-working space in Vancouver. She took her gestural work and wavy white lines, well, really BIG:

Surrounded by sound waves. Chills.

Ok, now if you’re wondering where Kelsie’s visual inspiration comes from – color palette, strokes, gauziness, etc – look no further than her lovely float-home just outside of Vancouver. Brace yourself, it’s dreamy-overload:

Sigh. So, so gorgeous… and look at those super cute newlyweds! Awwww   {photo by Christine Pienaar} Thank you so much to Kelsie for sharing her story and doing so much not only for the art world, but for the Deaf community; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode, and thank YOU for listening. There will be more Art For Your Ear next weekend:

Other links:

  1. TEDTalk by Deaf artist Christine Sun Kim
  2. Ava : an app that will transcribe audio {transcript of this episode coming soon!}
  3. Langara College 
  4. Emily Carr University of Art & Design
  5. Kelsie on Instagram
  6. Poutine recipe… you’re welcome.

 





“warhol ephemera”

Third time lucky! Yep, this is the third time I’ve had New York based artist Trey Speegle on the podcast. We’ve covered his childhood, 80’s in New York and everything in between… but today we’re talking about Andy Warhol! Trey’s new studio/gallery, Gallery 52, has a show up right now, for one more week, filled with all things Warhol… and so is this episode! Also, I could listen to Trey’s story alllll day long… wind him up and let him go! You can listen right up there under Andy’s purple cow, or subscribe on iTunes.

So, let’s not waste any time … here’s just some of the bits ‘n pieces of ‘Warhol Ephemera’ that are part of this wonderful time capsule / show:

Isn’t that crazy? And that’s just the tip of the Warhol iceberg. Thank goodness Trey is a collector, stashing away hundreds of paint-by-number kits for his own work, and also saving all of these amazing pieces of art history.

Speaking of which, here are a few of the photographs he mentioned. After we talked, Trey went through them a little more carefully and look what he found:

Himself! Well, those top two strips are photos of Trey taken by Andy at a party, and the contact sheet below features the shirt Trey designed, being worn by John Sex.

Next, his beautiful new space in upstate New York. Introducing Gallery 52

How fantastic is THAT? If you find yourself in Jeffersonville NY, stop in and say hello… and then buy some stuff!

Oooh, and I have to show you these… Trey’s flowers, on repeat:

LOVE! Not only do I love that he has used this image over and over in different ways {very Warholian}, I also love how generous Trey is about creativity. He has so many great ideas around getting unstuck and just playing. He even offers his images for people to play with {the folder above for example}.

And finally, I know you want to see this guy:

Ha! Terrifyingly awesome… the clown cookie jar! Thanks so much to Trey for telling me all of his stories, thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode {and I’ll see you next week at The Other Art Fair in LA!}; and as always, thank YOU for listening. There won’t be an episode next weekend, but I’ll be back the week after that. See you then.

Other links:

  1. Martha Rich
  2. Ashley Longshore, Episode No. 135
  3. Trey’s Coloring Book + {gift packs etc}
  4. Trey, Episode No.4
  5. Trey, Episode No.80

 

 





“there’s no time to be shy”

There’s no time to be shy … that’s for sure! It’s also the mantra that has made Montreal based, Kazakhstan born artist Ola Volo a full time artist. Now, we’ve known each other for a while as friends, but honestly I don’t know all of her behind-the-scenes stories. Thank goodness I have a podcast to take my friendships to new levels! You can listen right up there under Ola in her spray paint mask, or subscribe on iTunes.

Let’s start with a key ingredient in all of Ola’s work… her love of cultural patterns and icons:

So gorgeous! Ola has totally embraced all of the cultures she grew up with – Russian, Polish, Kazakh and Canadian – to create her own visual language… a language that allows her to tell all sorts of stories!

So, how did she become a mural artist? This was the very first one. The project that made her google “what is mural”:

Um, I think she figured it out! This was the wall at Hootsuite in Vancouver that started the crazy mural ball rolling for her. Well, that and Ola’s fake it till ya make it attitude.

Oooh, and here’s the Starbucks in New York that basically got transformed into “Ola’s World”:

How cool is that? If you happen to be in New York pop in … 21st & 5th Ave. Yep, 5th Avenue, baby!

Oh yes, and also cool… a collaboration with Louis Vuitton:

So great, right!? Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of that fabulous LV party she went to in Toronto, but we can use our imaginations.

Next up, her solo show that just happened in Vancouver, titled “King Queen Lovers Fool”. This time she was working mainly on canvas, not just walls:

Okay, she had to get one wall in there. Fair enough!

And finally, proof that Ola is doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing:

Love. Thank you so much to Ola for this amazing, warm, and super fun chat; Thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode, and thank YOU for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Thrive {ps. they’re accepting new members}
  2. Emily Carr University of Art + Design
  3. Bitch Magazine
  4. Skylight Books {my book event in LA on Oct 27th}

 





“the recording of art history”

Annie Kevans … I got Annie Kevans on the podcast! I have been smitten with Annie’s dreamy portraits since the first time I saw them way back in 2009. Well, nine years later and here we are {I like to ease into meeting my heroes}. Annie is a British artist who spent her early childhood in France, attended a {super weird} private school in England, lived in Barcelona for awhile, then London again, and NOW she lives in France. Again. Her story is so, so, so good, and I know first-hand because I was lucky enough to write all about it in my new book! We’re going to talk about all of it – from that super weird private school and her passion for women in art history, to Andy Warhol in drag and jumping off cliffs with a kite type of thing on her back. You can listen right up there under that lovely portrait of Lady Gaga (!), or subscribe on iTunes.

First up, Annie’s ‘Boys’ series. Let’s kick things off with Hitler, shall we:

Yep, dictators before they were dictators … dictators when they were sweet, young, rosy-cheeked boys. ps. This was the series that Charles Saatchi bought just as Annie was graduating from art school. THE. WHOLE. SERIES. Yeah.

‘The History of Art’sigh. I cannot explain how much I love this series featuring pioneering female artists:

So powerful, so beautiful. We mentioned Edmonia Lewis a few times and she is in there, of course … her story is so inspiring {she’s also the person Annie named in the not-so-speedy speed round as her choice for a dinner companion. I want to come too!} These unstoppable artists seem like a perfect segue into this next tidbit:

Yep, Annie is in my new book, ‘A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK – Now With Women’ – and she happens to be the first artist in Chapter 1! I had the honor of writing her story and displaying her gorgeous work. I have also sprinkled bits about historical women throughout the book, and in Annie’s section I just had to include Sofonisba’s story.

Alright, from inspiring women to fabulous male artists … who dressed like women from time to time:

These paintings are from Annie’s ‘Drag’ series, and here is part of her artist statement about this work:

In the ‘Drag’ series, Kevans reveals male art stars comfortably posing as women but confident that their achievements will not be forgotten.  Artists such as Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton all photographed themselves in drag but the question remains: would these artists continue to be so revered had they been born women?

Hm. Excellent question, Annie. Excellent question.

And finally, Annie holding things together in Europe:

Ha! When you find something like this on your guest’s Instagram feed, well, YOU POST IT. Thank you soooo much to Annie for doing this with me, and for also being part of this big important book that is ridiculously important to me. Thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode, and thank YOU for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.





“a mental list of dangerous things”

When you find someone who describes themselves as an “Artist & Beekeeper”, well, you invite them onto your podcast immediately. Yep, New York based designer, collage artist – and beekeeper – Charles Wilkin is my fabulous guest today. We met this past summer in New Orleans when we were both attending the very first Kolaj Fest put on by Kolaj Magazine. I heard Charles speak and I knew you’d want to hear him too. Obviously, I love his collage, but he also tells some pretty good stories, so that sealed the deal! You can listen right up there under his 2018 collage titled “Messages”, or subscribe on iTunes.

Alright, first things first, a few {ok, more than a few} of my favorite pieces from Charles’ art portfolio:

Gasp! Oh, so many layers and slices and luxurious bits ‘n pieces! Stunning. I can’t imagine that there’s a magazine left uncut in his house. I’m pretty sure this is safe though:

This beauty is Charles’ book, titled Index-A, that he published with Gestalten in 2003. Pages and pages of collages, type, and old Polaroids. I was about to mention the limited edition box set he just released for the book’s 15 year anniversary … but it sold out. Obviously.

Now, as a designer myself I admire Charles so much for making a conscious choice to infuse his own artwork into the brands he was working with. That’s kind of a designer’s dream, and trust me, it doesn’t happen very often. Well, unless you’re Charles:

Australian Vogue, Australian GQ, New York Times and some kind of awesome tape cassette packaging. And this is just the teeny tiny tip of the design iceberg Charles created while running Automatic Art & Design. Oh, and since we’re talking about gorgeous branding … hello, 2 Queens Honey!

So beautiful! And yes, even his beehives are stylish, but who’s surprised? Ok, a few things. No.1: That’s Charles in his bee suit. Is that what it’s called? Probably not, but either way he looks fantastic! No.2 : The images above are just a few of the products that he and Martin make … all of those delicious things also happen to be in my house right NOW! Yep, they sent me an amazingly sweet {see what I did there} care package after we recorded – which of course was totally unnecessary – but there’s also no way in hell I’m sending it back! Note: The “Honey Butter” is body lotion, so do not eat it {that said, it smells ah-mazing and I’m kinda tempted to grab a spoon.}

And, while we’re at it, one more sweet thing to finish off the post:

Awww! This is Carrot Cake Jake, aka Jake, aka Carrot Cake. Yep, Charles has a wiener dog too! See, I knew I liked him right away. Also, those rainbow shoes. Love. Thanks so much to Charles, for not only being on the podcast but also for sending me a giant box of bee-made stuff; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode {if you’re in Chicago be sure to stop by and see all of the amazing art AND artists at The Other Art Fair}; and as always, thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Charles’ art on Instagram
  2. Kolaj Fest {and there are dates set for 2019! YAY}
  3. 2 Queens Honey
  4. Fiskars Fingertip Knife

 





“petrified and totally excited”

Embroidery. Yes, everything except that lovely pink background is done with thread. THREAD. Cayce Zavaglia is an American painter who now uses stitches instead of brushstrokes – although, paint has recently come back into her arsenal. In reverse. Huh? Well just listen right up there under “Florence”, or subscribe on iTunes, and it will all make sense very soon.

First, a handful of Cayce’s insanely beautiful embroidered portraits… brace yourself for the realism:

Yeah, thread. Teeny tiny perfect little stitches, all coming together to create absolutely stunning portraits of Cayce’s friends and family. I mean, WHAT!?

So creating this work is exciting enough, but then she started flipping her pieces over and VOILA, the “Verso” series:

Messy but beautiful… just like life.

Well, why stop there, right? Might as well be “petrified and totally excited”! Here’s what happened when Cayce decided to pick up her paints again:

Gasp! Verso paintings! And wait until you see them in context {especially that last piece above}:

 

Double gasp!

And finally, I have to show you some of Cayce’s process shots… found, of course, on her dreamy Instagram feed:

Love! And there she is in action. Seriously, I could NOT do what Cayce does. Thank goodness for that little ball she squeezes while stuck in traffic so that her hands stay strong! Thanks so much to Cayce for doing this with me; thanks to Saatchi Art and Thrive for supporting the episode; and BIG thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Sarah Ball, Artist
  2. Alex Katz, Artist

 

 





“mythology and mounds of soil”

Oh boy… do you know what this means? Yes, my podcast – “Art For Your Ear” – is back! I’m kicking off season no.3 with the talented and hilarious Sara Khan. Born in England, raised in Pakistan and now based in Vancouver, Sara has all sorts of experiences and stories to draw from. We’re also covering important topics such as giving birth to kittens and / or dragons. Listen right up there under “Womens Games”, or subscribe on iTunes.

First up, images from Sara’s series “Ubiquitous Follies” which I fell madly in love with last year. These pieces are a great introduction to the magical watercolor worlds she’s been creating recently:

See? Her own worlds, filled with mythology and hidden meanings. LOVE.

Speaking of love, here’s a peek at the gigantic wall Sara did for the 2018 Vancouver Mural Festival:

Oh my word. Seriously. So gorgeous, but even more impressive … that she figured out a way to translate her smallish watercolors into a large-scale mural done with house paint. House. Paint.

I thought this would be really interesting for you to see. Sara talked a bit about her work from a few years ago – which of course ultimately led to what she’s doing now – that involved using mainly charcoal:

These are great too, but you can see that she was looking for her style. Well, she found it!  Here’s what is happening in 2018… I found these on her site and her Instagram feed:

Gasp! Those figures?! Stunning. And finally, I couldn’t wrap up this post without a little look into Sara’s home studio. Ahhh, sunshine streaming in… see, it doesn’t rain in Vancouver all the time:

When there’s stuff all over the floor, you know some major work is getting done! Thanks so much to Sara for being my very first guest of this new season … and congratulations on your big news, Sara xo. Thanks to Saatchi Art and Create Magazine for supporting the episode, and thank YOU for swinging back over for a whole new season! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Pennylane Shen, Art Advisor Extraordinaire 
  2. Vancouver Mural Festival
  3. Thrive 
  4. Video of Sara’s mural by Joe Bronson  {Joe Bronson’s IG}
  5. The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art

 





“petrol. rent. snacks.”

THIS IS A DRAWING. Yes, “paint” drawn with colored pencils. For real. After listening to and loving – both of her TEDx talks (2014 / 2018), I am so thrilled to be chatting with Australian-born, New York based artist CJ Hendry. A few fun facts: CJ stands for Catherine Jenna, she sold her entire wardrobe to buy drawing supplies, her favorite color is white, and she swears like a sailor… obviously I loved her immediately. Listen to episode no.140, the final episode of Season No.2, right up there under that perfect pink “paint”, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Big, beautiful objects of desire:

She doesn’t love the word “AMAZING”, so don’t tell her I said this … AMAZING! She’s got a lot of footwear in her portfolio, but I’m pretty sure those Aussie boots were the big first sale she mentioned.

Next … food! This is the first series of CJ’s I ever saw (2015). Clearly I had to write a post immediately when I saw these yummy morsels:

Um, yeah… my pen doesn’t do that.

Now, we didn’t talk about this next series, but I just found it (on her Instagram feed), and had to show you. An alphabet of metallic balloons, each letter drawn in a location that started with that particular letter:

… and of course, there are many more! I was quite proud of my self-control in only posting two of them.

Oh my word, and now her paint series. This might be my fave (simply because I personally have a thing for big juicy strokes of paint in my own work). Brace yourself:

Pick jaw up off floor. Continue reading:

And finally… “Monochrome”:

I absolutely will not say AMAZING (but I might be thinking it). I wish I’d been in New York when this show was open… I would have jumped in that bin of pink teddy bears for sure.

And lastly, I thought this photo was a perfect way to wrap things up … CJ in New York, drawing, while wearing all white:

Livin’ the dream. I’m quite sure she can afford all of the petrol, rent and snacks her heart desires at this point! Thank you so much to CJ for doing this with me – I had such a great time, and I feel like this conversation was a great way to finish season two! Thanks to Saatchi Art and Create Magazine for supporting the episode (and don’t forget to check out The Other Art Fair … London, Chicago, Los Angeles and Brooklyn are this fall, so deadlines are coming up). And finally, high fives to you for always showing up to listen – I appreciate it more than I can explain in words. I’m going to spend the summer recharging, getting ready for my fall book tour, and recording a whole bunch of new episodes for SEASON THREE … see you in September! ps. In the meantime, feel free to pop over to iTunes to give Art For Your Ear a little love ♥

Other links:

  1. CJ on Instagram
  2. TEDx 2014
  3. TEDx 2018
  4. Monochrome
  5. The Other Art Fair via Saatchi Art