fine art

Background Noise, Episode 74: Danny Minnick by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 74, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST DANNY MINNICK

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 74, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST DANNY MINNICK

Danny Minnick does it all. Not only is he a well-respected artist in the Los Angeles art scene, he is also a professional skateboarder and actor who has appeared in films by everyone from Gus Van Sant to Marcus Raboy and Larry Clark. You can catch him in 2016's The Brits Are Coming, starring Crispin Glover, Uma Thurman, Sofia Vergara, Parker Posey, Tim Roth and others.

His art sometimes resembles the manic, stream-of-consciousness paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Whatever is going on in Danny's mind at that moment ends up splattered on the canvas. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's chaotic. He's a man who must create. His work resides in the private collections of Mena Suvari, Nick Cassavetes and Fred Durst, among others.

 

First album you bought?
Winifred Atwell . From a thrift store

Last album you bought?
Velvet Underground - Fully Loaded

First concert?
That I can remember .. NIRVANA AT THE OK HOTEL

Last concert?
Joseph Arthur

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy

Who is your musical hero?
Jimi Hendrix

How important is music to your creative process?
Very important .. It feeds Me.. 

Brian Eno - Baby's on Fire
WInifred Atwell - Poor People of Paris
Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun
The Velvet Underground - Oh Sweet Nuthin
London Grammar - If You Wait
Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Miles Davis - Whispering
The Beatles - Dig a Pony
Rolling Stones - Emotional Rescue
The Animals - Hey Gyp
The Cry - Twist of Faith
Nirvana - Oh, Me
Lana Del Ray - Florida Kilos
Coldplay - Amsterdam
Courtney Barnett - Anonymous Club

Check out Danny's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here.  Check out Danny's website here.

Background Noise, Episode 62: Mike Leavitt by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 62, the focus is on artist mike leavitt

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 62, the focus is on artist mike leavitt

Mike Leavitt has a plethora of things under his belt. Based near Seattle, WA, the man who now also refers to himself as ReMike (ReMike remakes things), has been going strong for quite some time.

I'd seen some of his work online in passing over the years. It may have been his Banksy action figure that caught my attention. Needless to say, I jumped on the chance to go see his Empire Peaks exhibit at Jonathan Levine Gallery in Manhattan a couple of years back. The exhibit showed off Mike's sculptural mash-ups of political icons, pop culture figures and Star Wars characters, all presented as large scale, hand-carved, ARTICULATING wood statues. Each piece was amazing, and each one was incredibly hard not to touch. There was Steve Jobs as C3PO, Donald Trump as Darth Vader, Che Guevara as Boba Fett, among many others.

His Art Army toy series, his largest series of work, has gotten him a lot of attention since he created his first piece in 2002. Aside from his Banksy toy, which is the only creation of his to have been mass-produced, every other Art Army figure is one of a kind. He covers so much ground in this series, creating amazingly unique figurines of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Chuck Close, Ai Weiwei, and Barbara Kruger. All artists who most definitely would never have been in toy form if it weren't for Mr. Leavitt.

He has a whole series of shoes and accoutrements replicated to exact specs with cardboard. Cardboard Crocs, Chuck Taylors, a Keytar, etc.....He has Kurt Cobain towels, an Elton John toilet seat, an Ahmadinejad teapot (a collaboration with Seattle ceramacist Charles Krafft), and his work is in the permanent collections of Morgan Spurlock, KAWS, Ron English and Eddie Vedder (the latter of whom bought a piece of Leavitt's work and accidentally broke it when he got home). As far as I know though, Leavitt fixed it for him, and went on to make Eddie and his wife a custom wedding cake topper.

I'd highly recommend blocking off a good hour of your time and heading over to Mike's site to check out just a fraction of his body of work. It's absolutely insane what this guy has made.

First album you bought?
Michael Jackson Thriller. The cassette was my birthday present to myself when I was 8. I freaked out on the dance floor of a friend's birthday party when I first heard it. I had to have the album after that.

Last album you bought?
Future Islands, On the Water. I'm a total sucker for regurgitated new wave- M83, Hot Chip, Cut Copy & them. I love Future Islands' twist on it. It's like Tom Waits fronting New Order in their prime.

First concert?
MC Hammer, hot off the Can't Touch This tour. Back then I think even transcribed all of the lyrics from that song from a recording I made off the radio. I guess every answer to your questions requires me revealing one guilty pleasure or another.

Last concert?
Just saw The War on Drugs at a place called Pappy & Harriet's near Joshua Tree between their Coachella sets.

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Besides Thriller? U2 Joshua Tree, funny enough. It was a comfort in middle school during those awkward adolescent days. It still plays really well for me. Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA was another big childhood favorite. Great memories of roadtrips with my Dad. It also still plays well for me. I know The Boss isn't the best one to idolize as a hard-working blue collar hero. He gets the job done for me. Sometimes I need my studio to take on the foul air of a Jersey construction site, alright? We all have our own motivations.

Who is your musical hero?
I used to answer this question "Beck" without hesitation. Bjork, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson have all held this slot for me for long periods of time. My answer today: David Byrne. Talking Heads were a huge influence in my life from about age 12 to 18, especially as I learned and studied the downtown scene, Reed, Warhol, CBGB, Haring etc. As an adult I've discovered a whole new appreciation for the Heads & Byrne himself. That he's both a creator & facilitator, a great author of music and great assembler of talent.

How important is music to your creative process?
It's instrumental :). Literally. It's not as important during early stages of conceptualizing and brainstorming. Music will definitely trigger new ideas and inspirations. It also triggers affirmation. It's a product of recorded music, especially anything with history. I hear a song even just a year or two old and I recall memories of the first time I fell in love with it, what was happening around that time. I should try to act aloof and perpetually confident but the honest truth is that I need affirmation to continue taking risks and experimenting. Music takes on another level of importance to my process after I've started a project, anywhere in the middle, and definitely towards the finish line. Good music is the chugging train that keeps my wheels turning and hands moving. If I'm ever in doubt, ever in need of a dose of energy or emotion it never fails.

"Chuch", Shabazz Palaces
"Don't Sweat the Technique", Eric B & Rakim
"Skills", Gang Starr
"Sweat", Theesatisfaction
"Queens", Theesatisfaction
"Human Nature", Michael Jackson
"Double Dutch", Malcom McLaren
"It Was Written Down", Toots & the Maytals
"Mama Africa", Peter Tosh
"Shuffle a Dream", Little Dragon
"Back in the Tall Grass", Future Islands
"Vireo's Eye", Future Islands
"Sax and Violins", Talking Heads
"Running to Stand Still", U2
"I'm Going Down", Bruce Springsteen

Check out Mike's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here.

Background Noise, Episode 56: Brian Robertson by Matt Valerio

I wasn't familiar with Brian Robertson's work until recently. My new friend, Cameron Gray, who I met via this very Background Noise series, introduced me to his work. Brian, born in New Mexico, now residing in Los Angeles, used to assist Cameron with his various elaborate installations, and he came highly recommended by Cameron for a project I've been helping RYOT out with. The project is called Brick By Brick, a web series that invites artists to come by the RYOT office and do their artwork on a cinder block, while being filmed and interviewed.

I'm naturally drawn to surrealism and cubism, so Brian's work really speaks to me. His use of colors and shading is fantastic, and the visuals he comes up with are absolutely fascinating. His most recent series, on view now at Black Book Gallery in Denver, CO, focuses on his own interpretations of various abstract space rovers, and is on view through May 2. If you're in that area, you should definitely check it out. The exhibition is called Meta Structures. He is joined for this show by artist Max Kauffman. More info here.

First album you bought?
Quiet Riot, Metal Health...on cassette.

Last album you bought?
DIIV, Oshin

First concert?
The Dead Milkmen!

Last concert?
I don't see enough shows these days but I think it was Godspeed You Black Emperor, and it totally melted my face off.

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
There's been so many but I'd say it would have to be any Bob Marley album...It's my comfort music.

Who is your musical hero?
Thom Yorke, Frank Zappa, Television...really just all the visionaries that were always innovating and ahead of the curve.

How important is music to your creative process?
Music is essential. I don't know what art would be today if there was no music, but I would assume it would be pretty bad.

1. Johnny Jenkins - Spunky
2. Eddie Bo - Funky Jam
3. Ween - Voodoo Lady
4. Henry Thomas - Texas Easy Street Blues
5. Mable John - Same Time, Same Place
6. cLOUDDEAD - Side B (cLOUDDEAD #6; Bike 10”), Peel Session
7. Francoise Hardy - La Fille Avec Toi
8. Allen Toussaint - Southern Nights
9. Ms. John Soda - Hiding/Fading
10. Bob Dylan and the Band - Goin To Acapulco
11. Lloyd Parks - Slaving
12. The Misfits - Attitude 

Check out Brians's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here And be sure to check out Brian's website here

Background Noise, Episode 55: BEAU by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 55, THE FOCUS IS ON NEW YORK ARTIST BEAU

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 55, THE FOCUS IS ON NEW YORK ARTIST BEAU

I first noticed BEAU's work on a discarded mattress in New York's East Village. Fear of bedbugs aside, it's a great canvas to really get people's attention with due to its size, and due to the fact that most people will do a double take like I did and say "did that guy just paint a mattress!!??" Like his contemporary JIM JOE, BEAU chooses to do a lot of his art on trash these days, primarily resulting from one too many run ins with New York City's Vandal Squad. What's great about this is that it not only is this something that (I believe) you can't get arrested for, but it also becomes disposable art. Something that just appears there and exists in the world for a quick moment before being picked up by sanitation workers and discarded forever. Obviously, items as large as mattresses aren't usually going to be picked up and taken home, but a lot of the art that BEAU leaves on the street can be. It is often taken and collected, especially as familiarity with BEAU's work grows.

In addition to having a handful of regular collectors of his work, he's gotten the attention of Jay Z's former Roc-A-Fella business partner Damon Dash, who's Poppington Gallery on the Lower East Side opened a couple of years ago, with a show curated by-and-featuring BEAU's work.

He covers all different types of mediums with his work. He does straight up graffiti, stickers, sculpture and fine art. His fine art work is extremely impressive, especially when you factor in that he has absolutely no formal artistic training. Oh, and he raps too (you can hear a bunch of his songs on his mix). He's obviously not the type of person who is content just sitting still.

What was your first concert?
A house show with Jason Anderson, The Jerry Riddle and Adrian Orange taking place at Jef Logsdon’s flat in Panama City, Florida.

Last concert?
Don’t really go out.

First album you bought?
I stole most of my music, a lot of Bone Thugs n Harmony stuff, pop wouldn’t buy me that stuff at that time.

Last album you bought?
Scot Bazar’s experimental sound compositions

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?
A series of albums had an affect on me that was necessary in building the character I am today.

Who is your musical hero?
Rza, Gza, Vincent Gallo, Johnny Cash

How important is music to your creative process?
It depends on my mood and what I am working on. But in life music is important and beyond life transforming.

1.  Adrian Orange and Her Band - Keep Your Money
2. Charly Madigan - 322-beat: unknown
3. Chet Baker - Almost Blue
4. Devendra Banhart - Aperpareplane
5. Charly Madigan - Back To the Basics feat. THAUTZ
6. Charly Madigan - Black Swan
7. Bob Dylan - Blood In My Eyes
8. Charly Madigan - City of Babel
9. Raekwon - Cold Outside feat. Ghostface Killah
10.Charly Madigan - Dat Instagram Shit
11. The Love Letter Band - Everybody Sings Their Own Little Song
12. Charly Madigan - For All My People
13. RZA - Killer Bee Till Ya Die
14. Charly Madigan - Lab Drunk
15. Self Scientific - Live N Breathe
16. Pure Horsehair - Mangoes
17. Neil Young - My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
18. Charly Madigan - New Rap feat Sudoxe
19. U-God - Night the City Cried
20. Vincent Gallo - No Regard
21. GZA - Paper Plates (50 Cent Diss)
22. Charly Madigan - Put In On Blast
23. Krayzie Bone - Sad Song
24. Charly Madigan - Scooby Snacks (Weed Song)
25. Charly Madigan - Smokin’ Relish
26. Masta Killa - Soul & Substance
27. Charly Madigan - The EYE
28. Nate Dogg - These Days
29. Tupac Shakur - They Don’t Give A Fuck ‘Bout Us
30. Charly Madigan - Up In Tha...
31. Outkast - Wailin'

Check out BEAU's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here And be sure to check out BEAU's website here

Background Noise, Episode 50: Ron English by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 50, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST RON ENGLISH

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 50, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST RON ENGLISH

PHOTO BY MATT VALERIO

PHOTO BY MATT VALERIO

Chances are, you’re already familiar with Ron English’s art, even if you may not have known it. The extremely prolific artist, born in Dallas, TX and now residing on the outskirts of New York City, has infiltrated all sorts of artistic mediums throughout the past few decades. If you saw Morgan Spurlock's award-winning 2004 documentary Super Size Me, you’ve most likely seen Ron's MC Supersized character, an obese Ronald McDonald stuffed to the brim on his own brand of food. Or maybe you’ve seen his Abraham Obama, a visual mash up of our 16th president and Barack Obama. That iconic Abraham Obama image was originally painted as an oil painting, and then images of the oil painting were turned into limited edition prints, and sold to raise money for the Obama 2008 campaign.

English is a respected street artist, fine artist, toy maker and musician. He did an album with Daniel Johnston, collaborated on a toy with Pearl Jam, and has done album art for artists like Slash and Chris Brown.

He's a legend in his own time, and to say I'm honored to have him commemorate the landmark 50th Background Noise episode would be an understatement.

What was your first concert?

Three Dog Night. Probably not the hippest first concert. My parents brought me and my best friend. They held their hands over their ears during the entire show. But there you go. You only get one first concert. When my daughter came of age I tried to make sure her first show was hipper than mine so I brought her to see Mindless Self Indulgence. Definitely hipper than TDN, and since LinZ the bass player was my sometime assistant, we got to go backstage and meet the band. LinZ took my daughter Zephyr to the merch booth to get her some free stuff. The obsessed fans clawed at LinZ as we pushed our way through the crowd, some girls even shoved their tits at LinZ to get them signed. A lot edgier than the Three Dog Night experience. Later when my son Mars came of age I got him into a Linkin Park show where we had backstage passes and special seats on the side of the stage. Linkin Park was his favorite band so it was quite a coup.

Last concert/show?

The last concert I saw was The Dandy Warhols in Seattle. I have been missing them by one or two days in various cities for years so finally we found ourselves in the same town on the same night. I brought Mel, my partner in the Popaganda clothing line, who only likes Hip Hop. He agreed to come along if I agreed that we would leave after two songs. He ended up staying for the whole show. He was very impressed. These days we mostly see shows now at the Town Crier here in Beacon. Phil the owner is a good friend of mine so he always lets me know when something good is going on. Tonight it is an Elvis impersonator. I once had the chance to see the real Elvis but I passed. Thought he was for old folks. Three Dog Night, now that was a band I was all in for. Oh well.

photo by  s. butterfly

First album you bought?

Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Before that I only bought singles. Albums seemed stupid, I mean they release all the good songs on singles right? My cousin Robin disproved this theory by playing The Doors Strange Days for me.

Last album you bought?

I don’t remember. Does downloading count? In that case the last two full ”albums” were Dandy Warhol This Machine and Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt. These days I mostly download individual songs. Full circle.

Who is your musical hero?

Wow, there are so many. I guess if I had to pick one all time musical hero it would be John Lennon. Most people just think what they’re supposed to think and create what they think they are supposed to create and if it’s controversial it’s inside the bounds of accepted faux controversy. It’s scary to really go out on a limb with a little truth and honesty. Usually doesn’t turn out well.

photo by matt valerio

photo by matt valerio

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?

Probably more live performances. I remember seeing The Polyphonic Spree and thinking afterwards, “I just can’t be the same person anymore. I have to step up my game.”

How important is music to your creative process?

People are usually surprised that I don’t listen to music when I paint. It messes with my concentration. I am involved with music personally. Check out my band The Electric Illuminati on iTunes. I have also written songs with other artists including Wammo, Sara Hickman, Daniel Johnston, Mojo Nixon, The Sutcliffes to name a few. Every now and then I get to do an album cover. The last two were for SLASH and Chris Brown.

Track list:

We Still Hate You Yoko, by the Sutcliffes
Signs by the Electric Illuminati
Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, by the Eels
Lights Out by Mindless Self Indulgence
Disney is the Enemy by Mojo Nixon
The Little Things You Give Away by Linkin Park
Nth Degree by Morningwood
Enjoy Yourself by the Dandy Warhols
True love Will Find You in the End by Daniel Johnston
Turquoise House by Jim White
Pop God by Illness
Democracy by Leonard Cohen
Your Hands (Together) by the New Pornographers

Check out Ron's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out Ron's website at popaganda.com