Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Notes From the Underground: An Interview with Jason Snyder by the City Paper

By Mike Riggs

City Paper: Art Whino is a gallery that specifically promotes the underground art movement. Could you talk a little bit about what that label means to you, assuming you even consider yourself an underground artist? And do you do street art as well?

Jason Snyder: I would consider myself an underground artist in the sense that the type of art that I’m doing, and that is typically shown at Art Whino isn’t mainstream art–yet. In that sense it’s all sort of underground art. I don’t do street art because I don’t identify with that quite as well. I like to have my work out there, but I can’t really bear the thought of that disappearing or getting painted over. So while I wouldn’t identify myself as part of the street art scene, I think it all goes well together in the underground art scene.

Art Whino coming to the D.C. area is symbolic of this underground scene reaching all across the country. There’s certainly a lot of underground, graffiti-type art in New York, and on the West Coast–which is where I think it really sort of first exploded. East Coast galleries–even in New York–that show underground art haven’t been around as long as they have on the West Coast, where I think it’s always had more respect. It’s working its way around the country, and I think Art Whino is the first place in the D.C. area that’s had some major exposure for its artwork. It’s new to most D.C. people in particular.

CP: We’re talking about a town that’s dominated by the Smithsonian and other big-name, well-funded galleries–albeit, there are some great places with lower profiles, like Target and Gallery Plan B. But the closest thing to underground I’ve seen recently at a major museum was the hip-hop show at the National Portrait Gallery.

JS: It’s interesting, though, that on the West Coast–and not just California–underground art has been legitimized to a much greater extent. I wonder if it’s going to creep into institutional museums in D.C. There have been some major museum shows in Californi. Mark Ryden had a big museum show in Seattle. I wonder–at some point places like the Smithsonian are going to have to recognize it.

CP: Do you think you’re going up against mainstream tastes or art critics?

JS: I don’t really get caught up in art criticism, and I don’t understand where art critics are coming from in a lot instances. There seems to be a lack of respect for techinical ability. As far as art critics and what’s popular, the abstract stuff seems to get a lot more credit for its themes, while pieces that require a lot more technical ability, illustrations for example, which have sort of blossomed in the underground art scene, haven’t gotten as much respect from a critical standpoint. But my experience is that people seem to love it. For me, that’s all that really matters, that people enjoy my artwork. It tends to be younger people, so I guess that says something about the scene growing. I don’t know if it’s perpetually going to be younger people, but I think that more and more, underground artists are getting more eyes and with them, more respect. The whole scene is kind of growing up in that sense.

CP: Which people in the D.C. scene do you consider your contemporaries?

JS: I didn’t even know a lot of D.C. artists existed until Art Whino opened, because there wasn’t a specific gallery for our type of art before that. Since then a lot of artists have been popping up, getting a huge amount of exposure. Scott Brooks is huge, he’s shown work all over the country, and he’s pretty well respected and a really nice guy. There’s a woman who has a studio at the Torpedo Factory, Rosemarie Feit Covey, I’ve been a fan of her work for a number of years, and I don’t even know if you would consider her an underground artist. Her wood engravings are phenomenal, and thematically they feel like underground art. She’s almost like an illustrator. There’s another artist, Gregory Ferrand, who has some great work as well.

CP: You brought up an interesting point–if somebody like Brooks or Covey has had a lot of exposure, can you still call that person an underground artist? Building on that, do you think exposure and mainstream acceptance would be good for the scene? In the indie music scene, for instance, you’re called a sellout for licensing your music or signing with a big label, even though what you’re doing is introducing people to good music. Is there a similar sentiment in the underground art scene? Or are artists saying, “We want to make money because that means we’re making a living creating art”?

JS: That’s an interesting comparison to the music industry. In some ways, the music industry is similar. Some musicians feel really strongly about selling out, but there’s just as many people who have no problems with other artists trying to get their music on a t.v. show. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do, make money?

As far as popularization and the underground scene, I think that its acceptance by the mainstream is legitimizing. I don’t think we’ll keep calling it “underground art.” It might still keep the description of lowbrow, but lowbrow doesn’t necessarily mean underground. In a lot of cases it means the opposite, there’s a lot of lowbrow stuff that is really commercially successful.

CP: As far as categories go, do you think that being just lowbrow and not underground is a bad thing?

JS: It makes what we do more accessible in a lot of senses. And like the underground category, it doesn’t have the snobbery of the traditional art scene. And I don’t think the general public is turning its nose at the underground art scene, it’s more an issue of exposure.

If you havent checked out the Skin Deep Exhibit currently on display then make it your first New Years Resolution!

Here is an article of the show as seen in the City Paper. The show will run until Jan 21st


By Mike Riggs
Painted on slabs of wood, sans bodies, settings, or ideological cues, the pieces in Jason Snyder’s show at Art Whino are refreshingly apolitical—a big statement in a D.C. underground-art market that’s currently bingeing on bombastic Obama hagiography. “Skin Deep” depicts with subtlety the side effects of American cosmetic culture, while casting a sympathetic light on the demographic that bears the brunt of our collective expectations. Snyder’s subjects—nymph-like women with sad eyes as large as plates, flawless complexions, and multicolored locks that fall below their breasts—are exceptionally easy on the eyes. But their unblemished exteriors and lackadaisical expressions belie a deep emotional exhaustion with the demands of prettiness. Dissonant characteristics like the Demonic horns and bruised face in “Evilution” reflect the acts of psychological and physical self-violence that are often the cost of conforming to male ideals of perfection. Part criticism and part confession, Snyder’s show confronts unrealistic standards of beauty without coming across as condemnatory or preachy.

At home waiting for New Years?

If you are then perhaps this will help you pass the time a little faster.

or pehaps not.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Art Whino Artist Mark Jenkins Interviewed by Wooster Collective!


Age: 38
Hometown: Fairfax VA
Where do you now live?: Washington DC
Where would you most like to live?: Canary Islands
Who was your first "hero" in life?: Speed Racer
What is your favorite thing to do on your day off from work?: I quit my day job
What is your favorite color?: Clear
Who (or what) do you love?: Anything with alcohol in it (including people)


Wooster: Who and/or what are some of your influences?

Classical music this week, natural landscapes, watching animals--especially albinos

Wooster: What other artists do you most admire?

EvanRoth(fi5e), BLU, Jorge Rodriguez, Anthony Micallef, CON, Truth, TILT, Eric il Cane, Leon Reid, Brad Downey, Slinkachu, Judge Judy and dead, Juan Munoz

How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it? That it can be hard to identify as art

Wooster: What other talent would most like to have?

The ability to be 10 years younger

Wooster: What do you fear the most?

Dying in my sleep so that I miss the experience of it

Wooster: What is your greatest ambition?

Right now to write different words on the sidewalk with popcorn and watch the birds eat it, but they're mostly south right now so I'm going to wait until spring.

You can see more of Mark's work here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fellowship Oportunity in DC for 2009

Hamiltonian Artists, a 501c3, would like to announce that our application process for the 2009 Hamiltonian Emerging Artists Fellowship Program is now open. Please refer to our website for information on the application packages.

Its a great opportunity!

Prepare for the New Year..............

As we move into the new year lets reflect on shedding the negativity and moving forward to a new year which will bring much change!

Photo by Art Whino Artist James Walker

Art Whino Artist Rick Reese interviewed by UTL

Rick was my intro to illustration professor back at Long Beach State. I always looked forward to his class because he is a real down-to-earth guy and would often bring in his current projects to show us his creative process (usually because he was behind schedule I’m sure). I enjoy drawing a great deal, but am no illustrator, Rick made sure to let me know that! Rick taught me to really push to exaggerate my images to get the emotional impact that I often came short on. His work, whether commercial or otherwise is always fun to look at. He layers images and text allowing viewers to always find something new to examine while they should be doing something more important.
(The Escapist)


(Study for a Boy)


(The 6-3)


(Study for Mother)

Name: Rick Reese

Location: Orange County

Medium(s): All of them

What do you consider yourself (artist/designer/other)? They are all the same to me.

Where can we see your work (place/publications/url)? Various galleries, some magazines, around,

When did you start gaining interest in artistic forms of expression? I can’t remember, I think I might be a cliché and say from birth.

Who/What inspired your interest? Skateboard graphics from the 80’s, comic books and cartoons. I still look at them even though my interests have changed a lot.

Where do you first remember being exposed to art? Comic book store. Great place to get introduced to imagery and text working together. I loved comic books, not the lame super hero crap but the alternative funnies like Yummy Fur.

What is your day job? I’m an artist and a teacher. If you keep your “day job” you may not ever get around to supporting yourself with your art.

Why do you create? To fulfill some unexplainable urge to communicate my experience to others. Maybe I need validation I don’t know but I think it’s a common human need.

Is there any recurring theme in your work? At this point most of my new work is loosely dealing with memory and family.

What do you want from your work? I want it to make me rethink what I expected and amaze me that I made it.

What do you want viewers to take from your work? There is no one thing. Different people will take different things obviously. I really don’t care what they take as long as they are engaged by it in some way that is meaningful to them. If they have no reaction to a piece I feel like it’s a failure in some way.

How often do you work on personal projects? All the time. All your work should be personal or you’re wasting your time (in my humble opinion).

How often do you work on commissions or commercial work? Not so often anymore, but I used to all the time when I was younger and worked for other people and other companies doing mostly “commercial” work, whatever that means. I may return to it someday soon, I’ve been feeling the itch.

Does your art support you financially? Yes, but I teach too and that’s been helpful because I have a wife and 2.5 kids to feed. Selling work in galleries is not always something you can count on…its like freelancing used to feel to me, inconsistent but kind of fun.

Do you feel preoccupied with your art, do you think about it often during the day and night and do you anticipate your next session? I think about it all day and lose sleep over it at night, I’m obsessed by it and I can’t wait to work on a piece once its underway. I hope most artists feel that way or they aren’t in the right field in my opinion. If you aren’t that interested there are many easier ways to make a living.

What do you do in your spare time besides your art? Read, surf, hang around with my family.

Which musicians are you currently interested in? Bad Brains, The Misfits. I can’t stop listening to this music. Its had me since I was a kid.

Are there any events you are looking forward to attending? My daughter’s parent teacher meeting on Wednesday, should be a real scorcher.

How long do you generally take on a piece? Its all over the place. Weeks, a month sometimes just a few days on a small piece if its coming easy. Paintings evolve at their own pace it seems, some fast, others slow.

Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your art? I married a graphic designer so she understands art and has been supportive and really a huge blessing. I quit a 9-5 corporate art department job to teach and pursue painting. So maybe I lost that job but I never felt like it belonged to me. I’m not good at that kind of thing. The consistent day in and day out monotony (as it seemed to me) was really hard. To me it was worth the loss of consistent income to regain my sense of who I was as an artist. Again that’s probably cliché but its the truth.

Do you work on multiple projects at once? Yes I usually will have a painting or two going on while I am working on a print or a drawing or collage. Who knows I may go back to taking illustration or client based work, I really like it, I just have shifted attention to teaching and painting.

Do you have trouble parting with your finished work? Not usually but sometimes. You get used to it and really if I don’t part with it I can’t make the next piece, I wouldn’t have a place to put them all. I will say that I still prefer to give art away rather than sell it. Not because of some belief in the “purity” of non-commercial art or any of that art school bull, but because there seems to be more value placed on the object by the person who receives than by the person who buys it. At least that’s how I feel. That and the fact that most young people, who tend to enjoy my work, can’t afford it so if I can give it away I will on occasion, to friends, people that really appreciate it, etc. Not to you though Zac, I don’t like you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kwanza at the Gaylord National

New York Based Art Whino Artist TMNK came down for the Kwanza Event at the Gaylord. TMNK had a amazing 7 series set for the show. Imani exhibited as well as both Wes and Buck from AM Radio.

Internationally acclaimed author and artist Synthia St. James. She was the artist who created the first Kwanzaa stamp was there and she took a moment for a photo op with TMNK.

Ms. St. James felt left out and wanted to rock the bandanna as well!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Whino's at ART BASEL 2008 !!!!!

This year Susannah, Peter Chang and Me finally made it out to Art Basel. We always wanted to go and this year we finally said "Buy the Tickets" and put everything on hold. We need to go. So we land and my faithful team immediately go into Sun Tan Mode!!! If you want to see all the pictures go to the Art Whino Flikr Just to many to show in the blog!

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So first stop. Art Basel's main event. The convention Center. The place was crazy. All the masters...Bottero, Picasso, Dali, Miro.......Were on display with some new school fine art leaders as well. This one made me hungry for a combo #3. Super size of course.

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Of course you had your ole sprockets who had to make a artistic statement like this one. A Italian artist or gallery called Zero and that's what they had ZERO. At $25,000 a spot to showcase at the fair the should call this piece "SWOOSH. Money vanishes into this air"

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The highlight for me was this awesome piece by Mark Ryden. I was tempted to buy it because it was a great price. It was only $800,000. Problem was I left my credit card at McDonalds.

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Detail shot of Mark Rydens Piece

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The place is was huge. It took all day rushing to see it. Here is a installation piece. One of these two is real and one is a manequin. You pick the fake.

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Then we ran into Jay-z and Beyonce!

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Then back on the move. We kept seeing these cool orange and black stickers.

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Peter Chang finally got over the sun tan thing and finally realized the shear awesomeness of this place.

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The we rolled up to Primary Flight's Turf.
Met up with Books from Blackbooks.
The event was SICK!!! So many great artists doing their thing for days.
We made sure we stopped every day to check up on progress.
If you go to Art Basel DONT miss this!
We meet up with many of our artists and met some new great artist like DOLLA!
Here he is working on his Piece.

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Here it is finished!

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We rolled up on Boxi on Day one. Here he is putting up the background

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Here is the Final piece.

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Close up Shot. BEAUTIFUL piece!

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Retna and El Mac in this insanely awesome and HUGE piece


Final Piece!

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We ran into Legendary Ron English in an alley. He had finished this piece.

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and working on this one.................

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Final Piece

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Directly behind him Surge was tearing up this RV!

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Soon the night hit and we were on the prowl.........

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Part of our Faithful crew comprised of Susannah, Marina, Bill and Peter

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Miami Ink

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We went to Aqua Hotel Show. Hit the after party at the Shore club and then went next door to Delano's. There we met up with alot of our DC Peeps like Philppa from Pink line Project

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Here we are at Boys Town section!
Top row you have the Hamoltonian Gallery boys.
Mike Sirvet, Bryan Rojsuontikul from Hamoltonian and Peter Chang from Art Whino
On the bottom you have Greg Kearley from Project 4 Gallery

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Next Morning.........Whino's on the Prowl

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We went to the Wyndwood warehouse district and checked out some great shows.
Here is a Barry McGee Piece

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As we left we found this little boy escaping from the Human Hair Warehouse.

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I have a feeling he is going to grow up and be a proud Art Whino Artist one day!

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Then we turned the corner and hit Primary Flight again.
This huge install caught my eye

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Then I found out its our good friend LECKomio's crew from Germany!
Frerk & Marc C. Woehr

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Frerk Close up

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Marc C. Woehr Close Up

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Right around the corner from Frerk & Marc C. Woehr
WK Interact did a awesome series in a huge courtyard

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Super Nice guy it was a pleasure to meet him!

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Both of Ron English's Wheatepastes were stolen the next morning.
There is a army of people tracking the person down as we speak.

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Another El Mac Piece

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Hey.....That dude on the ladder looks familiar.
Its Billy Mode from Bmore!

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Billy Mode and Chris Stain collaborated on this killer piece!

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Billy Mode and Chris Stain

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Around the block we met up with Daryll Peirce’s as he just completed this wicked piece!
I am telling you. If you go to Art Basel DO NOT miss stopping many times at Primary Flight!!!

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Couple of turns later we spot a 1.2 Million Bugatti
Of course you cant have a art fair without some insanely price car sitting outside.
This marked our arrival of Scope

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Lot of cool stuff. Bought a couple of Mr. Brainwash pieces.
Met up with some ole friends. Like Phil from Jonathan LeVine.

Silk Live Screen Action

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Went to Pulse and saw many cool pieces.
As I mentioned go to Flikr to see all the artwork of all the shows. Just to many to show in the blog!

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Checked out Aqua Wynwood, WK Interact had a solo show.
Here is one of his pieces

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Then we we to the Scion 5
This little gem was parked outside. Get yourself a Taco and some Spray paint.
Put this in the inner city and you will sell out!

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The show was STELLAR! Met up with lots of old friends and made new ones. Everyone had a real positive attitude and we were all enjoying some free frosty beverages.
David O'Brien, Yoskay Yamamoto, Tessar Lo and Edwin Ushiro in this pic.

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Met up with Ron English again. Everyone is pointing at everyone!
His Self Portrait was SICK!

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Got to meet Usugrow!
Scion flew him down from Tokyo for the event.
His work is Tight. Its between us.

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Surge, Peter Chang and myself decided to do a finger pupet show.
If you decipher it it says....."We Love Art"

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Kofie's Self Portrait

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Kofie in the house!

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The Next morning back to Primary Flight.
The boys putting on the finishing touches.

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We met up with Dare! Another one of LECKomio's Peeps from Black Forest Germany.
Hopefully Artwhino will be showing in Black Forest in 2009

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Final Piece

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When the sun set, the Whino Posse got into formation for the last event.

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The place was AWESOME. A lot of my favorite galleries and Artists.

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Peter and Joshua from Joshua Liner Gallery
The VIP couple of hours was cool but then when it was open the public it got CRAZY

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DC Based Mark Jenkins had some pieces on display at Carmichael Gallery's spot.

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Sas Christian sporting a Art Whino Fan!

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One of Sas Christian pieces on display

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SUPERSTAR LC from Thinkspace Gallery.
Its good to surround yourself with good peeps!

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Bad Birdie

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Good Birdie

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Bad Birdie!

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Fage was one of the sponsors. Its tag line is "Really Thick Yogurt"
Well..........Look what it has done to one of the poor artists!

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GenArts was our last main event and the end of our trip.
I will definitely be at Art Basel every year and hopefully be exhibiting soon.
Maybe I will sell my Bugati and get a couple of spaces. We will see.
With all the craziness I missed many people that I planned to meet.
Sorry guys but hopefully we will meet up soon in the months coming up!