August 25, 2017

Cheyenne Randall

Having spent most of his twenties coming in and out of San Francisco, appropriation artist Cheyenne Randall (@Indiangiver) recently visited for a week to work on a few projects. GRØSS got to catch his install of a piece in the Mission at the soon to be opening Fox Sister and instigated his rants about trying to be active, Instagram and not talking about the uncomfortable shit.

Randall is well known for his shopped tattoo series — taking pictures of celebrities and giving them some traditional ink. Lately, he has been getting into more motion and 3-D art as well as getting involved in music and a film titled “Warrior Women” with Christina King and Dr. Elizabeth Castles.

His work isn't supposed to make you feel warm and comfortable — It makes you double take, pushes your buttons and dances on that thin line of right and wrong. Being Native American and an artist, he feels like it is his responsibility, now that he is gaining recognition, to become more active especially in today’s world of social media and he isn’t afraid of speaking his mind about it, “You kind of have this responsibility to decide like am I going to be this dude just posting pics of me ballin' with a blunt hanging out of my mouth or am I actually going to get involved... The Native community is kind of dead, people don’t even know we exist." He blames a lot of this lack of knowledge on the education system and how Native American history is barely taught in schools. But it isn’t just problems with his heritage — it’s everyone, all races, and how there is this obliviousness that is all too common. “I do everything I can to stand up for every race. You get some these fucking hippies man, that live in this fantasy land where everything is nice. Nobody wants to talk about the uncomfortable shit and in the meantime, all this crazy shit happens because people aren’t willing to talk about it.”

Randall’s frustrated with this new general public status quo of everything being alright. “People just don’t really care because their fucking phones aren’t loading fast enough. My friends are more excited about the new iPhone or whatever coming out than they would be if they found out something like stem cell research can be used to cure cancer. There’s just not enough public interest.”

Like most artists today, Randall has to rely heavily on Instagram to stay current —
uploading posts at certain times, using keywords and hashtags, trying to keep coming up at the top of people’s feeds. These things are necessary to be able to keep doing what he is doing but it definitely infuriates him.

“It makes me feel kind of sick and narcissistic sometimes because I’m not like that. I’m not a big hashtagger or really fuck with any of that shit really because I think it’s all teenage bullshit. It feels so fabricated, and in a lot of ways, it is. It’s like this neurotic bullshit that you are feeding to this part of society. There’s like algorithms and shit to it that you have to follow which just feeds that bullshit narrative.”

One aspect of this social-media-crazed public that freaks Randall out is how people think they know someone based on just their accounts and what they post. To be friends with them, to feel like they know a person based on their posts and how easy it is to appear a certain way through social media. “It’s weird sometimes, I think people meet me sometimes and are disappointed because I’m not who they think I am based on my Instagram. They think I am this well put together Instagram page. It’s annoying but at the same time, it’s a game that I somehow put myself in it. But I make it fun and still post a bunch of goofy shit. You can’t take it too seriously, but it’s hard not to.”

Randall will be part of the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas Sept. 22-24, doing a show called Crime on Canvas with a number of other artists. One of the other artists is Randall’s hero, Ron English. “Ron was one of the first guys to really attack a wall and I have always looked up to him. Just to have my name near his is an honor.”

Peep his Instagram here: @indiangiver 

June 1, 2017

Samo©… Lives — A Resurrection of Diaz X Basquiat

Artist Al Diaz is releasing three photographic prints that he took in 1976 of his childhood friend and partner in starting the SAMO©... movement in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Diaz, with the help of Instagram—SAMO©... and Massachusetts-based House of Roulx, has recently been bringing back the presence of the iconic SAMO©... a movement that overtook the streets of New York during the late seventies—spreading his work and SAMO©... across the globe to places himself and Basquiat never could have reconciled. The prints that are being released feature two portraits of a young Basquiat and photo of the two of both Diaz and Basquiat. (below)

Basquiat & Diaz - House of Roulx

Basquiat & Diaz - House of Roulx

Uncovered from digging through his old photographs in his basement on request from a friend, Diaz stumbled upon a side of Basquiat not many have seen—young and before he would rise to stardom. “These are pictures of him when he was a more innocent human being; a less damaged soul,” he says. Diaz briefly chatted with us over the reintroduction of the SAMO©... movement, social media and the release of moments between a dear friend of his and himself from a long time ago.

What are your motivations for resurrecting SAMO©...?

I started a few hours after the [recent presidential] election. I went out and started doing [tags] and haven’t stopped since. I have been doing it out in public places usually at subway stations, but this time around, being that it’s 2017, I’ve been using social media to get them out there. They don’t usually last long much in these days on the subway, they buff them really quickly. You have about a day. But the social media is how really people are seeing it, Instagram, Facebook, etc.


Are you a fan of all these necessary social media methods you have to use today?

I am not a huge fan. I’m not an advocate. I’m not going to deny its existence or anything. I am going to utilize it because it's a whole new generation and audience. It’s very useful. You know, I never had a cell phone when I was a teenager or in my twenties or through my thirties. It was never part of our culture. But I’ll be 58 in June and I have had a cell phone since 2001, so to me it’s not completely shocking of a thing.

Do you think people miss the emotion trying to be expressed seeing it through a screen as opposed to on a subway?

Yes, it’s not the same experience. Certainly not. When you see something live, in person, it always has a much more effect. I mean how many times have you seen certain great art works, you know? Take something like Guernica or like the Mona Lisa. I never saw the Mona Lisa, but I bet when I saw it, the real one, I would be like, "Oh shit, I’m feeling being in the presence of this iconic and powerful object," or whatever. But it’s cool that you can see it at least in social media. It reaches an international audience. I get requests from people from Norway and Australia; by the standards of which myself and Basquiat were active that was totally inconceivable, the idea of people being that far away knowing what we were into.

How did this whole thing with the photographs start?

Through a friend who has a company called Street Art Direct; he came to a show of mine in 2015. He knew who I was and was asking me if I had any old photographs because he was interested in maybe making a few copies. I went through my old negatives but couldn’t find anything but. I did find prints and that’s when I found the portraits. It took us about a year and a half before we even did something. It was through Street Art Direct where I got together with the Gendron Brothers at House of Roulx and they were willing to work with the old black and white 4x4 snapshot prints and enhance them to 18x24 images. It took some time but now they are very handsome prints.  

Basquiat 1976 by Al Diaz - House of Roulx

Basquiat 1976 by Al Diaz - House of Roulx

Why are these photos important?

They are important because there are not a lot of them, really and they are actually pretty decent portraits.  Because there are a lot of images out there of later Basquiat, theses are the few of Basquiat before 'Basquiat' was 'Basquiat' in a sense. These are pictures of him, he is a more innocent human being, a less damaged soul.

Basquiat by Al Diaz - House of Roulx

Basquiat by Al Diaz - House of Roulx

Diaz also has a personal show coming up in New York in the Meatpacking district at a pop-up gallery called Red Bird with artist Ron English and possibly Shepard Fairey.

Stay tuned.

Vintage SAMO©... photos via Henry Flynt

Basquiat photos by Al Diaz via House of Roulx

May 25, 2017

Workin’ Hard or Hardly Workin’ with B.Cools

The other day, we were neck-deep in work and one of the boys came thru with a box o' brewskis. Then we saw that the postman dropped off a very special delivery. The folks behind Barney Cools out of Sydney, Australia have been enjoying that sunshine we over at GRØSS have been missing all winter (their summer) long. That delivery was a new kit that the homies had sent us and whaddya know, with it came a weekend of sun. We hopped up to the roof with some frosty ones and a camera to kick off what hopefully will be a string of sunny Saturdays for the boys.

Break time in full effect.

The oversized signature fit of these B.Cools pieces makes for a super casual and relaxed fit—perfect for lounging like lizards. More photos to come.

👕: @barneycools
📷: @msa_photography