San Francisco artist Alexis Arnold loves to explore unpredictable three-dimensional sculptures. With previous works centered around everything from training bra nets to faux-lawn upholstered decorations, her more recent Past Of Our Future and The Crystallized Book Series sees Arnold mixing scientific experimentation with everyday objects. Combining Borax crystals with things near and dear to human hearts, like vintage furniture and weathered books, Arnold grows wonderfully organic forms out of objects both malleable and solid, invoking nostalgia all along the way. As Arnold says herself in the following interview, "Time (and its physical/visual presence) is an ever-present concept in my work, as well as a large factor in crystal growth" -- and it is this idea that adds even more importance to the past in her sculptures, as it contrasts with the present.
"Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway." -- J.D. Salinger - Catcher In The Rye

 

It is no secret that the economic depression that has commanded the nation for the past four years has taken its toll on everyone. School districts nationwide are especially feeling the budget crisis, as falling tax revenues has forced some to get creative. Be it via hacking a month off of the school year or forcing teachers to take furlough days, it is, in the end, students who lose out most from these funding struggles. Portland's favorite beard metal band Red Fang are more known for their PBR-swilling music videos and heavy riffs than they are their level of social engagement. But when the Grant High School art department needed some funds to keep the art flowing, Red Fang did what all good metal bands would do: threw a benefit show. Like a carwash fundraiser, only with less bikinis, more beer, and more beards. In this interview, Red Fang's vocalist and bassist Aaron Beam talks about why the band got involved, and Maliq Rogers, a Sophomore at Grant High School, explains what impact the budget cuts have on his band, Hell's Parish, and the other students at the school.
"I think we need to re-program society to put a bigger emphasis on the arts, so that it would be inexcusable to cut an arts programs funding in the public schools." -- Aaron Beam

 

Drawing from the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and one of the area's most majestic creatures, Rafael Anton Irisarri of The Sight Below and Thomas Meluch of Benoît Pioulard have breathed life into a new project, Orcas. On their debut self-titled disc, the two have created nine tracks of ambiance-heavy songs featuring a number of opposing elements, including light and dark, acoustic and electronic, textured subtlety and straight-forward hook. In that spirit of balance, this bilateral feature places side-by-side interview responses and sample tracks from both artists, to dissect the strengths, weaknesses, and sonic tendencies both musicians contribute to making Orcas the rich collaboration that it is.

Benoît Pioulard

"Sault" from Lasted Where Irisarri's soundscapes lay a gentle foundation for the work of Orcas, Meluch's work as Benoît Pioulard provides more accessible and structural elements, complete with singer-songwriter pop melodies. "Sault," from Benoît Pioulard's album Lasted, has guitar and vocal tendencies that connect to the piano and guitar lines of "Arrow Drawn," which is streaming below.

Rafael Anton Irisarri

"A Great Northern Sigh" from The North Bend As The Sight Below, Rafael Anton Irisarri's compositions rebuild familiar emotions and spaces by way of minimal electronic soundscapes. According to Irisarri, "A Great Northern Sigh" has conceptual and thematic ties to the work of Orcas, as it also relates to the Pacific Northwest. "Almost like an audio postcard," he adds. "What can I say -- I'm deeply inspired by this region and wouldn't imagine composing our Orcas album anywhere else."

 

Jeremy Mangan makes paintings of barns. Barns are not in and of themselves fascinating subjects, and it's hard to escape the cliché imagery associated with them -- of wheat fields and bucolic pastures. But Jeremy Mangan makes barns magical.
jeremy mangan Mangan grew up in rural Washington but spent a number of years living in New York while attending graduate school at Hunter College. His interest in shantytowns and weather-worn buildings began with observations of his surroundings, and was later informed by the urban layering of New York City. "I think what [my interest] comes from is a combination of growing up here and always being attracted to these dilapidated old structures," Mangan explains over coffee. "And then in New York, the overbuilt stacking, the literal hierarchy -- where the higher up you are, the higher up you are. You look up and you see the penthouses, and then you look down and you go into a subway." When Mangan first began his explorations into rural Americana, he was working with a very unorthodox medium. "I was painting fairly realistic, naturalistic subject matter at that point, and I was frustrated, so I decided I would just use the dumbest material I could find -- something that wasn't meant for art making and wasn't so precise," Mangan explains. "So I just bought a cup of coffee from the local bodega and started painting with it."
"Music does something kind of like poetry does. We can access music and listen to music and it doesn't have the expectations on it that visual art does, to be important or meaningful or to have direct social commentary... There's just something visceral and direct about it that I want to be in my paintings also." - Jeremy Mangan
Looking at his work, it's hard to believe that Mangan managed to achieve such an impressive array of depth and tones using coffee, but he has always been a technically skilled artist. He attributes much of his painting technique to his time spent as an ice carver. While finishing his graduate degree, Mangan's studio shared a building with Okamato Studio, the ice sculpting business of Takeo and Shintaro Okamoto. "They knocked on my studio one day and said, 'Hey, I need to deliver this ice sculpture; I could use a hand with it.'" At first Mangan only helped with the deliveries, but he was gradually entrusted with more responsibilities. Eventually they let Mangan try his hand at carving. "They gave me a 300 pound block of ice and a chainsaw and said, 'Go for it.'" Mangan's experience with carving fundamentally changed the way he approached painting. "As a painter, I could look at a face as a mug shot, and then in profile, and imagine how I would render it and how the line should be, but ice sculpture made me think in terms of volume, and that took a while to learn." This sojourn as an ice sculptor led Mangan to many interesting situations, including one assignment making a giant reindeer for Martha Stewart's holiday party. "She seemed very... uh... composed. Like she was working. Very smiley, almost robotic. What you might expect." Although it was a day job that involved creating and working with his hands, Mangan ultimately felt that he needed to leave New York and make more time for the work he wanted to pursue. "I was working 40, 50 hours a week carving ice, and I didn't go that far away to become an ice carver. It was just a job. I wasn't painting... I joke that I needed to leave New York and move to Fife for things to really start coming together." jeremy mangan