DETROIT AN OUTSIDERS PERSPECTIVE

Let’s chat about Detroit. The first (and last time) time that I ever visited Detroit was for a family reunion. I was 14 years old and went with my paternal grandmother. She and my grandfather grew up there and moved to southern california before the idea of me, other grandchildren and great grandchildren ever existed. That place was the most depressing place that I had ever seen in my life. This was the 90’s, Southern cali was gang land and wearing certain colors could get you rough up or killed, but Cali wasn’t hopeless. It was tense. There’s a quite a difference and that is what I learned as a 14 year old. I had never been to a city that had weeds the sizes of trees growing out of the freeways. It felt like no one cared about this place. They didn’t even care enough to be angry.  Maybe folks use to care about the place, but no one cares about it now. This was the first time that I had ever seen a 7-11 that one could not go in, and was made of bullet proof glass, put the money in the bullet proof plexi turny thing at the counter and then the clerk slides around your change and request. I visited the ‘great’ Motown museum that looked as though it was falling apart at the seams. I had the opportunity to meet my relatives and see my grandmother be frustrated and annoyed. She’s quite a composed lady so this was very rare form for her, but it was something I appreciated. It made her seem like a more dynamic person and I understood that she had made quite a concerted effort not to be in Detroit. This is the same woman who lived in NY and worked as a nurse and at one point even lived in Alaska. That’s a different story though. Let’s get back to Detroit.

Detroit felt like it use to be amazing, a long time ago, and folks kept reminding others that it use to be amazing as the the city is slowly falling apart. It was like showing up to a party 20 years too late. Since that trip I’ve been facsinated with Detroit…from a distance. It’s amazing and bazaar that a place that I have always felt represents many if not most American cities. Industry comes, folks work and live, industry leaves and the folks are stuck. Eventually trains stop rolling through, flights become few and far between, those that can leave do those that can’t or won’t stay and become forgotten. This seems like it can happen to just about any city in America. I’ve always felt that If there is a revival for the Motor City it will be spearheaded by artists and DIY folks, both insiders and outsiders. A few years ago when I first caught wind that one could buy a house in in Detroit for the cost of one months NYC rent. My ears perked up a bit and I mentioned to a few friends that we should but a few places near each other and set up shop…but  I wondered if I had enough optimism to actually live in Detroit or if the hopelessness would swallow me.  Well, I guess I decided that the hopelessness would swallow me and decided that it’s not my journey right now.

In the nature of artists creating awareness I recently saw to documentaries that addressed Detroit…in two different ways.

The first one is Searching for Sugar Man. It’s a Swedish/British documentary directed by Malik Bendjelloul. It is about is an American folk musician Sixto Díaz Rodríguez based in Detroit, Michigan. His career initially proved short-lived with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and some brief touring in Australia. Unbeknownst to him, however, his work proved extremely successful and influential in South Africa, although he was mistakenly rumoured in that country to have committed suicide. In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to seek out and contact him, leading to an unexpected revival of his musical career. Their story is told in, Searching for Sugar Man, which has also helped give Rodríguez a measure of fame in the U.S. I enjoyed that Rodríguez continued to live out the themes and views addressed in his music even though his music carreer was pretty much non existant for most of his life. He worked from the inside out and is a bit of a reminder that, it’s not a race. It’s not linear. It’s life and that’s all. One more thing…he makes Bob Dylan’s music seem like elevator music. A portion of it was shot with an iphone proving that many of us have all the tools we need to create in our pockets…pretty powerful.

I saw Detroitopia and was happy to see a documentary that tackled many perspectives on the city of Detroit. Detroitopia focused mainly on the economy and was directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. ‘The three Detroiters who are profiled are video blogger Crystal Starr, nightclub owner Tommy Stephens, and United Auto Workers local President George McGregor, each of whom reflect on their own experiences and share their observations about the city, its problems, and its opportunities. Also featured are portions of Mayor Dave Bing’s discussions with city officials and residents about the possibility of geographically consolidating Detroit residents as a cost-saving measure. A group of artists, mostly newcomers to Detroit, are shown as well, particularly Steve and Dorota Coy. The Coys, who are performance artists, are featured on the poster and DVD cover for the film.’ (info courtesy of wikipedia) The artists they showed kinda annoyed me. I have issues with outsiders being too large of a representative for problem solving. I wish they were working more with the local community (or if that was shown, if they are). That’s my own issue though, and overall I was happy to see that the city was thoughtfully and sensitively documented.

Detroit may still have a bit of magic left. What are your thoughts?

 

 

Continue Reading

Upcoming Gallery Exhibition! OPENING JAN 27th

IONA College Council on the arts
715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801
BlackHair: Black Identity
Sunday Jan 20th-Thursday Feb 21

Opening reception Sunday January 27th 1p-3p
Curated by Peridot Smith
Featuring art by Natassia Davis, Chanel Kennebrew, Soo Yoon Lym, Jamel Shabazz, Alexandria Smith, James Petrozzello,
Tabitha Bianco Brown, Toyin Odutola, Philece R. and Peridot Smith

Refreshments
Live Music by DJ Spawn
Live hair styling Demonstration by Diva Designs and Cuts by D
For further Information, call 917637-7796 or visit www iona.edu/artscouncil

Continue Reading

HOLIDAY 2012 POP UP SHOP! NEW YORK, NY November 17, 2012

I’m always honored to rock with the Toofly, Circa95 crew. Just received the press release which means the pop up shop is officially on and Junkprints (aka me) will be there! See below for the deets.

LADIES LOVE PROJECT
PRESENTS:

HOLIDAY 2012 POP UP SHOP!
Shopping Event Showcases Brazen Art, Avant-Garde Fashion & Design at the  University Settlement!

On Saturday, November 17, 2012, the LADIES LOVE PROJECT presents its 6th POP-UP SHOP at University Settlement 183 Eldridge St from 12pm – 10pm. The PROJECT, a brainchild of renowned street artist TOOFLY, sound sensation PattyDukes & Rephstar of the Circa95 duo and creative non-profit efficionado A.Mari, highlights some of NYC’s most creative underground artists and designers.  The one-day-only event boasts an intimate, yet extraordinary colorful market shopping experience – designed to familiarize consumers, media and tastemakers with artists currently celebrating prominence.

Featured female market designers and artists include Toofly, Junkprints, Vanilla Medallions, Dominique Reneè, Shiro – as well as the fellas Marka27, Rebelution, Soh Nup Ink,  and a host of others, will be exhibiting one of a kind, limited edition, handcrafted goods just in time for the holidays! Event music across all genres will be handled by RephStar and Dj Enygma. A live broadcast of the event will be streamed all day at www.Circa95.com and will include the first ever performance showcase by Brooklyn based rap sensation, and self-proclaimed “Mistress of Ceremonies,” Jasmine Solano. Complimentary empanadas, coquito, and cupcake treats will be served by Jenny Kinns Cupcakes, Mi Isla Coquito, and Martha’s Kitchen.  Funky fresh ladies in the *new* LLP Lounge will be rocking make-up makeovers, dope nail art, and tarot card readings. This year the photo fun will continue with homegirls Sheena She on deck with event photography and Samantha Morales holding down the LLP Photobooth!

University Settlement, a celebrated art and community space located in the Lower East Side, plays host to the eclectic mix of prosperous and established talent. Art pieces on canvas, jewelry, t-shirts, graffiti, make-up, nails, live music—you name it— the LADIES LOVE PROJECT HOLIDAY POP-UP SHOP doesn’t get any more New York than this! “Having the LADIES LOVE PROJECT POP-UP SHOP in our space is a perfect fit,” says Alison Fleminger,  Manager of University Settlement space. “All of the vendors have styles that honor old New York, but each demonstrates a unique progression with great, must-have niche items.” “We are ecstatic and honored to be partnering with such a NYC institution of Art! We, the LLP team and event participants, are enthused to be hosted in this inviting space – the pop up will be sure to kick the holiday off with LOVE!”

Continue Reading

note to self: MAKE MORE ART

Recently I  completed 2 custom pieces for a collector. It was a pretty fun project. I’ve always been a bit of a spastic artist, flip flopping between materials and surfaces. It’s nice to get back to a flat surface and this project reminded me how nice it is to just make art….slow art, paint art, illustrative art. As much as I love my digital tools I’ve been missing the journey of using the analogue tools. These pieces are about 2 feet high and 5ft and 2ft by 3ft.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

COMIC CON NYC OCT 11th-14th

Hiya Sunshines,
We are just about all set up to rock the socks off of Comic Con! Oh yeah, we kinda forgot to tell you…geesh. Well things have really been just that crazies. Guess what, I just posted all the new goodies that I’ll have at Comic Con online, so in the case that you didn’t get your tickets (they are sold out) and fave anime character costume made, you ca shop butt naked from the comfort of your home (or at least a private place, if you insist on being butt naked).

In the case that you are attending Comic Con NY, I’ll be holding down booth #3140. Come say hi and hug up on the new Matilda plushies.

Continue Reading

PROJECT BUY A BUILDING IN BROOKLYN

When it comes to buying property, I must admit that the concept of owning a piece of land sounds a bit absurd to me. I understand that wars have and are being waged in the name of land ownership and that a good chunk of the world believes in the concept of land ownership, but I’m not fully drinking the koolaid. Basically, one can’t be ‘owner’ of land. It existed before us and will probably exist after us. Yes, I do acknowledge the work and resources put into building a structure for occupation, but even that is simple a relocation of resources and contracted services. As far as I’m concerned, that’s it. The idea of working 30+ years to own something that can’t really be owned sounds silly. Not to mention the housing and financial crisis we are currently experiencing. I do understand that for many systemic reasons a good chunk of Americans were not able to ‘own’ land. That’s not cool we should all be able to engage in foolishness…equally. that’s a whole different tangent maybe I’ll get back to it one day.

There may very well be one thing that is more foolish than the concept of ‘owning land’ and that is ‘renting land’. In many ways I do buy into this system, because I’m renting a space in a building in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Well I have finally jumped off the fence and decided to but a building with some like minded folks . Yep you heard right, buy a building on a piece of land in a place that is currently known as Brooklyn new York. I’m calling this endeavour Project Buy a Building A Brooklyn…duh. And what does this means for Junkprints? Well it means more open studios (maybe a store), a larger work space and maybe some rooftop parties

The goal is to be ready to buy no later than this time next year. My hustle is tight right now (real tight, style like crazy, make like crazy, sleep when I can get it, blog on train rides and eat lentils and rice tight) and I’m about 27% there financially, with a great team and 2 months a head of schedule. Guess I’m taking a bite of the apple and drinking the koolaid at the same time.

Continue Reading

BLACKEST BLACK FRIDAY NOV. 25th-27th

Yo! The Fine folks at Junkprints are hosting the blackest black friday open studio ever. This event is going to be so black that your gonna need a flashlight & affirmative actions to balance it out. Just kidding! I’ve been prepping for the holiday season & am thrilled to be open 11/25-11/27 for all your Junk shopping desires. Free goodies w/ the 1st 10 black friday purchases.

Fri Nov. 25th and Sun. Nov. 27th // Noon til 7PM

Continue Reading

SHOP IN PERSON 12/17/11

On Saturday, December 17, 2011, the LADIES LOVE PROJECT presents its third POP-UP SHOP at the West Village Brecht Forum, 451 West Street from 12pm – 8pm. The PROJECT, a brainchild of renowned street artist TOOFLY and sound sensation PattyDukes of the Circa95 duo, highlights some of NYC’s most creative underground artists and designers.  The one-day-only holiday event boasts an intimate, yet extraordinarily colorful market experience designed to familiarize consumers, media and tastemakers with established artists.


The large group of talented designers will be exhibiting one of a kind, limited edition, handcrafted goods just in time for the holidays! Featured market designers and artists Toofly, Good Wood NYC, Junkprints, Vanilla Medallions, Marka27, Antonio Kel 5MH, while several other brands will be in attendance. Music across all genres will be provided by iPod DJ’s Rephstar (of Circa95), Ben Ferrari, Jacina Love, and Slik Nik The Ruler. A live broadcasting of the event will be streamed at www.Circa95.com, while complimentary holiday treats by Jenny Kinns Cupcakes and Mi Isla Coquito by Millie will help promote the holiday cheer! Exclusive event photography will be taken by Samantha Morales with video by Barrio Media.

Location:

The Brecht Forum

451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets)

New York, NY 10014

www.brechtforum.org

Date: Saturday, December 17, 2011

Time: 12PM-8PM

Pop-Up Shop Vendors:

junkprints: www.junkprints.com

Circa95 www.Circa95.com

Toofly NYC www.tooflynyc.com

Dahlia Soleil www.dahliasoleil.etsy.com
Pink Eye www.igotpinkeye.com
Marka27 www.marka27.com

PaperSoul www.wix.com/papersoul/papersoul

Lipstick Manifesto www.lipstickmanifesto.tumblr.com

Shirley Rodriguez www.shotbyshirl.com
Vanilla Medallions www.jenone.org

Good Wood NYC www.goodwoodnyc.com

El Salonsito www.elsalonsito.com

Barrio Media www.barriomedia.com

December 17th from 12-8pm
Brecht Forum: 451 West Street (West Side HWY), New York, NY 10014

Continue Reading

BLUE COLLAR

America is one hot mess, it’s always been a hot mess. I’m glad that the US has finally taken note of this, with the Occupy everywhere protests. I only wish the protests were more focused.  Many things suck, but they get better when we get better…aggressively better. We will work harder than our parents for less, because unfortunately America was build on the backs of stolen, borrowed exploited labor and efforts and most of us has reaped the benefits of that exploitation to some capacity…and honestly we can’t all be kings queens, ceo’s and overpaid executive, but we can stop supporting the folks and establishments we don’t believe in. And there’s no shame in using your hands to make things and earning a day’s wage. Unfortunately this is something most of us will have to learn to do.

Most of my day job pals have finally stopped looking for jobs (after getting hired, then getting laid off then getting hired for less pay, then getting laid off, dealing with delays in payment etc.) I’m proud of them because they are finally putting there efforts into marketing skills they possess. Teaching dance, vocal lessons, baking, basically doing things in which they are not brokers in a service. they are actually providing a valuable task or deliverable. All great changes came from folks that shifted they way they thought about things. Don’t like the walls knock them down, or leave the room.

Big ups to all the Blue collar workers. America needs more of them. We need to make things, particulary the things we use.

Remixed with my hands especially for you:

The Remixed Blue Collar shirt

Continue Reading