Art August 30, 2010 By Jennifer Pappas

Justin Giarla with one of Skinner's masks

Justin Giarla with one of Skinner's masks

justingiarla title Justin Giarla Interview
If San Francisco is the renegade city of the art world, Justin Giarla is most definitely captain of the ship. Since first opening the Shooting Gallery in 2003 (in a neighborhood that gently put, is a little shady), he’s become the shining beacon of a city excluded from both the nexus of New York City and the star-studded vault of Los Angeles, a city no longer taken seriously when it comes to fine art. Specializing in urban contemporary and pop surrealism, Giarla’s spreads his expertise between four different art spaces including Gallery Three and the Shooting Gallery’s influential sister gallery, White Walls. Known in local circles as equal parts philanthropist and curator, Giarla’s work outside the galleries speaks at even higher volumes about his commitment to community engagement through the conduit of art. He hosts annual fundraisers for local nonprofits and is closely involved with Hospitality House, an organization that offers facilities and art resources to the homeless free of charge, no questions asked.
     Giarla’s newest progeny, 941 Geary will host its inaugural show on September 18 with a circus-inspired “art opera of epic proportions” including real life carnies and interactive games courtesy of Mike Shine. PLANET picks the brain of the man who is single-handedly attempting to reinvigorate the San Francisco art culture by example and sheer force of will.

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Architecture August 30, 2010 By Virginia Smith

filler139 Villa Nyberg

Photography by Kjellgren Kaminsky

Photography by Kjellgren Kaminsky

filler139 Villa Nybergnyberg title Villa Nyberg
With the recently opened Treehotel and now Villa Nyberg, Sweden seems to be making a case for itself as the world’s hub of cutting-edge green architecture. In collaboration with Emrahus and commissioned by the Nyberg family, all-star architecture firm Kjellgren Kaminsky has just unveiled Villa Nyberg, setting a new standard for the concept of the “passive” house.
     Still a budding art form in the world of green architecture, passive houses are designed to draw on the energy — and there’s always quite a bit of it — created by the house’s residents and their appliances, thus wasting as little energy as possible for basics like heating. The houses are extremely well insulated, and tests have recently found that the Villa Nyberg will only consume kWh/m2 per year for heating and has set a new airtightness record for Sweden.
     Views from the Villa of the adjacent lake in Borlänge, Sweden are an instant reminder that Kjellgren Kaminsky has given as much attention to form as to function with this house, which has been given its circular shape for purposes of airflow efficiency. As one of the world’s leading firms for passive houses, Kjellgren Kaminsky is now aiming to make eco-friendly architecture, normally the territory of elite home buyers, a more accessible option, meaning we may live to see the day when the word “passive” can be applied to the world of New York real estate.

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Art August 27, 2010 By Nika Knight

estelle title Estelle Hanania
Estelle Hanania’s images explore otherworldly spaces, the sharp realness of her photographs a startling contrast to the ethereality of their subjects — burning hands, glittery crystals, spookily-real human scarecrows, and men dressed as eery, totem-like birds. Exploring the allure of ritual, costumes, and folk traditions, Hanania’s photography is a beautiful reminder of a certain eccentricity inherent to all cultural beliefs and behaviors.
     Hanania tells us, “I don’t take pictures on a daily basis, and everyday life is more visually boring to me than inspiring, most of the time. Visually, I like when strange things collide and provoke questions.” Of her photographs of costumed men at carnivals (which she’s been taking since 2006) she ways, “I’m attracted by a feeling of disorientation and excitement that you can find in these gatherings and costumed traditions…. I loved this kind of situation where everything gets confused and uncertain, but you still can define the most familiar shape which is the human figure, vanishing.”

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Fashion August 27, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

Photography courtesy of The Viridi-Anne (Click images to enlarge)

Photography courtesy of The Viridi-Anne (Click images to enlarge)

vainterview title The Viridi Anne
Have you ever wondered why Japanese design is so damn good? Here is the answer – the Japanese do not differentiate between fine arts and design like we do in the West. They treat both the artist and the artisan equally. This is the way Tomoaki Okaniwa, the designer behind the young label The Viridi-Anne, thinks. Born in Nagano, he moved to Tokyo as a teenager to study oil painting, but then switched to fashion. He launched The Viridi-Anne in 2000. Clean tailoring prevails in Okaniwa’s work, but upon closer inspection subtle details like curved seams and seamlessly incorporated extra pockets give the clothes a sense of vitality that is not aggressive, but rather subdued. “The main concept of my work is based on the beauty of simplicity and the effects of time,” Okaniwa says. “I want to create garments with roots in the ideal of ‘wabi-sabi’ that incorporates the aesthetics of imperfection, incompleteness, and the effects of natural processes, but I want to mix it with a modern vision.“ Okaniwa’s clothes possess a good mix of European and Japanese cultures. His latest collection is based on Picasso’s Blue Period. We asked the designer to answer a few questions about his work.

How did you become a fashion designer?
I began my creative life as a painter. I was inspired by modern art in general, and one Japanese artist, Leonardo Fujita, in particular. He was an oil painter who lived and worked in Paris. His use of colors, fine sense of balance and choice of subjects were extremely beautiful.

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Design August 26, 2010 By Nika Knight

Caption

Photography courtesy of MSB estudi-taller d’arquitectura i disseny (Click images to enlarge)

essence title ESSENCE
Associations with “steel” might be “cold”, “hard”, and even the bitter mortal sound of the word “slab” — but Spanish architecture and design studio MSB brings us something entirely different. MSB estudi-taller d’arquitectura i disseny (”MSB architecture and design workshop-office”) was established by architect Miquel Subiras in 2008. MSB’s 2010 ESSENCE collection of furniture is “made entirely in carbon steel, strictly selected for each piece, finished with varnish, preserving its unique materiality and personality”. The sleek, spare design shows the soul of steel to be that of a living, expressive, and even warm material.
     MSB created ESSENCE with the goal of exploring the essence of steel — the finish of the varnish coating each piece is selected to display the grain particular to it, as well as to allow the differentiation in shade and color that naturally occurs in steel over time to show through. The collection also takes advantage of steel’s extraordinary strength, as many of the designs form shelves and seating that have the potential to carry weights much heavier than their sleek, minimalist lines would suggest.
     Of the collection, Subiras writes, “When you feel [steel's] density, you realize it is an earth’s son. When you see its expressive skin, you think about the influence time has had. When you know its possibilities, you discover a raw material with a richness of endless nuances, and surely you would have never thought its presence could provide so much warmth.”

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Events August 26, 2010 By Nika Knight

boyevent cover BOYboyevent title BOY
Tonight sees the opening of BOY, an exhibit by Cody Critcheloe and his band SSION (think “percu-ssion”) at The Hole — the gallery run by former Deitch Projects directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman. SSION, a self-described “queer punk performance art band” comprised of artists and musicians from Kansas City, has just released BOY — a feature-length film documenting Critcheloe’s “life as a small-town punk kid addicted to junk food, dreaming of stardom, who becomes a glamorous pop star with the help and hindrance of a gaggle of crazy dames”.
     And if that hasn’t piqued your interest, perhaps the “shitty green screen and handmade cardboard props” will, or the added bonus of “outrageous spandex conconctions” by fashion designer Peggy Noland. Noland will have a fashion boutique installed, and Critcheloe’s contribution to the show will be “like a sweet hangout zone”, plus video lounge. Be sure to come back for Nolan’s runway show on September 10 — maybe even stay for SSION’s one-night-only performance on September 11.

CODY CRITCHELOE & SSION – BOY opens tonight, 6-9pm, at The Hole, 104 Greene St., New York.

Fashion August 25, 2010 By Roxanne Fequiere

Photography courtesy of Shabd Simon-Alexander. (Click images to enlarge)

Photography courtesy of Shabd Simon-Alexander. (Click images to enlarge)

shabd title Shabd Simon Alexander
Brooklyn-based designer Shabd Simon-Alexander is something of a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to participating in Saviour Scraps, a textile-based artists’ collective, she is adept at photography, sculpture, and several other forms of visual art.
     When it comes to her eponymous clothing line, however, Simon-Alexander resists the urge to display the range of her ability. Instead, she adopts a meticulous, straightforward approach, channeling her energy into creating unfussy silhouettes from natural fibers. Drawing from folk tradition and her dedication to environmentally conscious fashion, Simon-Alexander begins the construction of each new garment with leftover fabric from the last one. Inspired by imagery of star life cycles captured by the Hubble telescope, the individually hand-dyed prints are rendered in delicate pastels. In addition to her own designs, Simon-Alexander also lends her handiwork to basic pieces, including tees, leotards, tanks, tote bags, and bikinis.
     For her A/W 2010 collection, Simon-Alexander doesn’t plan to stray far from her successful technique. Instead, the latest collection features an improvement of her craft, as she experiments with complicated Shibori methods of dyeing. As Simon-Alexander’s website states, her pieces “bring design, chance and chaos into a perfect balance”. With the juxtaposition of natural and man-made structures influencing her latest collection, the conscientious artist has produced a unique rendering of her latest inspiration.

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Architecture August 24, 2010 By Nalina Moses

filler140 Citizen Architect

Citizen Architect film still courtesy of PBS and Rural Studio

Citizen Architect film still courtesy of PBS and Rural Studio

filler140 Citizen Architectcitizenarchitect title Citizen Architect
The image we have of the modern American architect is of a charismatic conjurer like Frank Lloyd Wright, wandering about with his cape and cane, or a narcissistic obsessive like Howard Rourke in The Fountainhead, deeply immersed in the details of his work. So the late Samuel Mockbee, the well-regarded architect and professor at Auburn University, cut a welcome figure. Stout, bearded, wily, and garrulous, he seemed more like Santa Claus than an architect.
     That comparison might not be so ridiculous. Mockbee’s greatest accomplishment was to establish the university’s Rural Studio, a program that instructs students by leading them to design and then literally construct buildings for the needy in Hale County, Alabama. Sam Mainwright Douglas’ new documentary, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, which premieres nationwide on PBS Monday, August 23 and will be released for rental afterward, is an excellent introduction to the Studio and its work.
     Since its inception in 1993, the Rural Studio has completed several small houses and public buildings each year. In Citizen Architect we see a class of sophomores working together to build a house for a local man who had been living in a rusting trailer. We also see some of the handsome buildings that the Studio has already completed, including an animal shelter, a fire station, and a church. And we hear interviews with architects throughout the country who are carrying on Mockbee’s vision by practicing “social architecture,” doing work that’s pragmatic and community-centered.

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Features August 24, 2010 By Jeff Markey

filler138 Lawrence Bender Interview

Photography by Keenan Henson

Photography by Keenan Henson

lbender title Lawrence Bender Interviewfiller138 Lawrence Bender Interview
Released this year by Magnolia Pictures, Countdown to Zero is a powerful documentary that explores the nuclear weapons’ potential for unimaginable destruction and offers a singular solution for preventing such catastrophes. Lawrence Bender, the film’s producer, has been nominated for Academy Awards for films such as Inglorious Basterds, Good Will Hunting, and Pulp Fiction. The last documentary Bender produced was the Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
     Jeff Markey got the chance to speak with Bender last week in LA, and discussed his involvement with the anti-nuclear proliferation group Global Zero, the film’s portrayal of the current threat of nuclear disaster, and what citizens of the world can do to help.

Why and how did you get involved with a documentary about nuclear weapons?
Well, having produced An Inconvenient Truth, I was able to witness firsthand how a movie can educate and inspire a movement. It was a great thing I got to do on that film and with Al Gore. I recieved a lot of incoming phone calls when that movie came out [from] people wanting to do an Inconvenient Truth of different subjects and issues. I got a phone call from Bruce Blair and Matt Brown from the Global Zero organization. … They said, “We want to do a documentary about another great threat facing us — nuclear weapons.” And that made sense.

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Music August 24, 2010 By Chase Hoffberger

filler144 The Black Ryder: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

Mexican Summer

Mexican Summer

theblackryder title The Black Ryder: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

Australian imports are usually packaged with a bolt of lightning — hard-charging rock explosions in the vein of AC/DC, Silverchair, and Wolfmother. With Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, the Sydney duo of Aimee Nash and Scott Van Ryper emerges as the new face of Aussie rock: a drugged-up stew of distorted guitars fueled by the American bands Nash and Van Ryper toured alongside and brought into the studio to lend a hand on the recording. The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Ricky Maymi and Leah Shapiro and Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are just three of the reasons that Buy the Ticket boasts such a West Coast neo-psychedelic drone. “Gone Without Feeling” and “To Never Know You” dig up Oregon rockers the Dandy Warhols via Nash’s ethereal vocals.

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Buy this at iTunes.

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