June 7, 2018

Nailed It: Astral People @ Sydney Opera House

The whole thing was on point. 🎯

Natasha Diggs by Tim Da-Rin

Astral People’s Studio Party at the Sydney Opera House during Vivid humored the sleek and satisfied the genuine.
Stepping inside at the mezzanine level after getting a properly pink wristband, the floor cruised along to Natasha Diggs' nu funk sounds. Followed by Danny Krivit pumping OG disco house through the warm hazy room, the environment sure instigated a good horizontal hustle — I tell ya.

Danny Krivit by Tim Da-Rin

Music and venue: two thumbs up.
The outdoor scenery was a helluva treat, too.

Photo by Gareth Mordue

The entire Sydney Harbor lights up end to end for Vivid which is a fucking rad sight to behold. Just across from the Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art was projected with artwork by Sydney’s own talented Jonny Niesche in collaboration with Mark Pritchard were especially sweet, considering we were fortunate enough to catch a studio visit with Jonny.

Museum of Contemporary Art facade by Jonny Niesche

Added bonus: Getting to stop by Sarah Cottier Gallery to view Jonny’s work in the group show titled “CHROMA.”

Jonny Niesche + Brendan Van Hek, But Still I Wait, 2018, mirror, dye-sublimation print on polyester voile, acrylic mirror, brass

Nice meeting you, Ashley and Sarah — thanks again for the book.

June 1, 2018

Review of “Noonday Dream” the latest from Ben Howard

Ben Howard’s new album, “Noonday Dream,” dropped today and we got a sneak peak. Read on for contributor Haley Killam’s thoughts on the record.

Howard’s album sees way more diversity than his previous ones by way of instruments with “Nica Libres at Dusk” ending in piano and “Someone In The Doorway” starting off with only drums and vocals. This album continues what he does best — painting landscapes, both physical and emotional spaces, through instrumentation and his cathartic lyrics.

“Noonday Dream” seems to rely far less on Howard’s singing capabilities than his past work. His voice is almost exclusively there to tell a story, in the low and humbled tone of someone who has been through some shit. In his past albums, he has used his vocals as more of an instrument — howling throughout “The Wolves” and harmonizing with the guitar strings in the intro of “Old Pine,” all while also telling universal yet individual stories through his lyrics. This third album picks up where “I Forget Where We Were” left us — in a chaotic place — and Howard creates that space for the listeners through the syncopated drums and almost dizzying synthesis of high and low frequencies that makes for an emotionally immersive listening experience.

Photo Credit; Roddy Bow

Favorite song - The Defeat.

Highlight tracks;

“Nica Libres at Dusk”

Howard opens the album with this song, letting us know right away this album is a culmination of his first two. While “Every Kingdom” relied almost entirely on acoustic fingerpicking and “I Forget Where We Were” on harmonious electric guitar synths, “Noonday Dream” is a melancholic layering of the two.

“Someone In The Doorway”
Got some Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse type singing going on here with some vibrant violin that we heard in “Every Kingdom,” with heavy electric guitar riffs carrying throughout.

The drums, WTF, so awesome — never heard a Howard song with percussion like this one.

Really haven't heard this side of Howard before. The raw rock drum percussion against the synthy and layered distorted guitar really shows how far he has come as an artist from his heavily acoustic roots.

Touring the summer in Europe, Howard won’t be stateside until the end of September. Get on those tickets though, they're going fast.

May 2, 2018

LeRoi Johnson Brings A Primitive Contemporary Twist to Superfine! NYC


From "The Disciples"

“I paint for me, the things that have gone on in my life, I like to paint stories that I may be thinking about or things that I see. And Sometimes the things aren’t really there but I will paint it anyway. Sometimes I paint historical idea but I like to make it about my life.”

Contemporary artist LeRoi Johnson has seen it all. Not just as an artist, but as a lawyer, and also as his brother funk legend, Rick James' manager. His art is a reflection of what he has experienced through his varied life, with a primitive twist. He paints electric colored historical figures juxtaposed with a contemporary influence.

His work draws inspiration from modern influences of Picasso, Dali, Jacob Lawrence and Pippin all the way back to the ancient artists of cave drawings, works from the ‘nameless primitives.’

“The nameless primitives are famous because their work has lasted tens of thousands of years. No one knows their name, it’s just based on the work. You know why too by just the rawness of them and to think about how they did their work,” he said. “Each group represents something else, classic, contemporary artists represent freedom. Unrestricted. Each one of them tells me what you can do as an artist.”

His story on how he got into art is an unusual one. As a young kid, LeRoi was seriously injured in a bus accident. Not being able to attend school due to his injuries. He was stuck at home and the two things he took to were drawing and reading and he never stopped either.

“I was bedridden for a number of years and the only thing I could really do was study or draw. And I did a lot of drawing, and a lot of painting,” he said. “That was really the only thing I did, draw and then study. I did that every day until I was about thirteen. In the end, it sounds a lot worse than it was because I was able to focus on art and school, which I probably would not have been able to do.”

After a year at a technical high school where he studied Industrial Design, LeRoi left to a regular high school. It wasn’t until his senior year in college where he switched back to studying Urban Design where we learned the structural side of creating. From then on, LeRoi would live a life of many paths. “I just got used to doing multiple things. I was doing a lot of traveling in the early eighties when I was managing my brother so I wasn’t able to actually make the art I wanted to. I just didn’t have the time. But I went to about every city in the states and all over Europe and when I did I would go to all the galleries and museums in each. So I didn’t lose anything, I actually gained a lot.”

LeRoi’s journey has brought him across the globe, experiencing art in all communities. His excitement for being apart of Superfine! resembles that.“I am excited for this new community of people to see my work and see something different and also be able to show with all of these younger artists and have my work be all the wall along theirs.”

Superfine! NYC open May 2nd and runs through the 6th.