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Brandon Graham's comics inhabit a strange space. His work spans from other-worldly roadtrips (Multiple Warheads), to intergalactic wars (Prophet). His characters inhabit worlds decorated with annotations, hinting at stories yet untold or worlds beyond the gutters. Rather than having a building off in the distance be a mere piece of scenery, Graham will make a chart detailing events occurring on each floor as one of his characters looks on in the distance. He says he does this to stave off boredom while drawing. His art style is fluid, and he describes his colored work as resembling melted ice cream, but there is a clear sense of form and structure in his work. On Friday September 19, at the Society of Illustrators (128 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10065), Graham came to talk on the subject of censorship and how artists could overcome it.
Graham came to New York as part of his tour of the country with the comics podcast Inkstuds Radio, which is hosted by Robin McConnell. Graham and McConnell have been making their way from coast to coast talking to creators such as Rebecca Sugar, creator of the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe, Junko Mizuno, the author of bizarrely feminist comics like Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu and Pure Trance, and Ed Brubaker, who’s run on Captain America laid the groundwork for the hugely successful Winter Solider film. During his talk, Graham recounted interviewing Rob Liefeld who’s 1990's action comic, Prophet, is now being re-imagined by Graham. Graham admired that even though Liefeld’s work is the butt of many jokes amongst comic fans today, Liefeld still creates, works hard, loves comics, and has a loving family. In attendance were myself, a young boy that was excited to hear that Graham recently worked on an episode of Adventure Time, your usual comic book store denizens, some artistic types, and students looking for advice or wisdom from someone who “made it.” While Graham did not offer much in the way of traditional Horatio Alger-esque advice, his observations on the artistic medium of comics were valuable.
Graham is tall to the point where once he was on the podium he had to stoop so he wouldn’t only see tops of our heads. His hair is blond and thinning, his eyes peaceful and almost languid. His voice is soft, belying a sharp tongue on Twitter and an eagle eye for talent. He has multiple tattoos, including one from his current book, Prophet, but his most prominent ink is an elephant’s head on his neck. Graham eschewed formality in his talk, and projected scenes from some of his favorite comics. Some were from his contemporaries, some from Europe, others from the States, some old some new, but all of it daring and imaginative work. Artists like Fil Barlow and Paul Pope emphasized Brandon’s love for strange cityscapes and environs full of life. Graham proudly wore his love of Japanese comics (manga) on his sleeve. Atsushi Kamijo’s To-Y, a 1980’s manga about a punk band was one of Graham’s favorite examples, showing the importance of a good character introduction. Akira Toriyama’s comically manic Dr. Slump has a character wielding an exclamation point from their own talk-bubble as a weapon. Graham spoke highly of the dream-like landscapes of Japanese girl’s comics that portray the world not as it is, but as the heroine perceives it. For Graham, there was no clear separation between manga and western comics. To him, both had valuable lessons on how to tell a story. Graham still hadn’t said anything on the subject of censorship, though.
Graham continuously showed work from two particular artists; Masamune Shirow, and Matt Howarth. Shirow is considered a big name among fans of Japanese animation and comics, where his hyper detailed machines and tough as nails heroines in works such as Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell have made him a vanguard for manga and anime outside Japan. Howarth is an underground comic artist known for Savage Henry and Those Annoying Post Bros., whose work is bizarre, rough and experimental, a hallmark of Heavy Metal era comics. One of Graham’s favorite examples of Howarth’s work was a time traveling comic that is meant to be cut and pasted onto a strip of paper and turned into a mobius strip. A knife fight from Shirow's Appleseed was deeply coveted by a young Graham for its fluid motion. Shirow’s work is elegant, precise, detailed, and displays keen technical prowess with a pen.
I was left wondering why Graham kept returning to these two artists. While he never said as much, I couldn’t help but think of how these two artistic polarities made Graham into the artist he is today. Shirow embodies Graham’s technical eye for composition and form, with the occasional jaunt into cheesecake territory, though Graham laments Shirow’s current work being nothing but cheesecake. Graham’s work ethic was described by a host at the Society as “workman,” but I see a more punk ethic that Graham has culled from work like Howarth’s. Graham gets pages done no matter what, even when he was fighting testicular cancer (Graham recounted making an editor back off on changing one of his covers by signing a letter of protest as “serious as cancer”), but also staying true to an artistic vision that is purely his own. There was still no mention of the subject of censorship.
Graham had no prophetic final world, no last grand sweeping statement. There was only a quiet and sincere appreciation for the storytelling possibilities of comics. What was advertised as a discussion about censorship became Graham simply giving an ode to comics. When Graham was asked during the Q&A to say a few words on censorship, he simply stated that the more like he felt he was going to get away with printing something, the more likely he would. At this point, it’d be fairly difficult to put any kind of fear of censorship or reprieval into a former graffiti artist and a cancer survivor. There is only the drive to create.
You can follow Renzo on Twitter @RenzoAdler or email at
James Franco cuddled with a kitty in Shubert Alley Saturday afternoon. “I’m a cat person,” he admitted, looking enamored of the adorable kitten he held gingerly. Franco co-hosted Broadway Barks, the annual pet adoption event that took place in the alley between 44th and 45 Streets in the heart of the theater district. Later Franco stroked a portly Shih Tzu while Jessie Mueller, the Tony winner for “Beautiful – The Carol King Musical,” sang “Chains of Love” surrounded by fluffy puppies.
The ubiquitous actor-writer-director-artist-professor, took a break from his starring role in “Of Mice and Men” to co-host the annual pet adoption event with theater legend Bernadette Peters, who founded the event with Mary Tyler Moore. And he did his hosting duties for the doggie/cat event with more energy and passion than when he hosted the Oscars with Anne Hathaway a few years back.
This was the 16th-anniversary of the organization, which has been successful in finding homes for rescue and shelter pets, most with very sad stories. This event attracts the hottest stars on Broadway, who cajole and plead with the crowd to take home a worthy pet.
Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, a big animal lover, who has a scene in “Lady Day at Emerson Bar & Grill” with an adorable mini-mix rescue pup, created major excitement when she made an appearance between her two shows. “How do you even do that?” Franco asked awed of the Broadway star. He meant how do you win that many Tonys.
It takes a lot to upstage the popular McDonald, but an adorable mutt with a sad story of being abandoned by his hard-hearted owner did just that.
The festivities began at 3 p.m. where all the adoptable dogs and cats were available for a meet and greet. Then from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Broadway celebrities took to the stage to introduce the adoptable animals from the various shelters and to encourage the audience to fill out application papers.
The Broadway stars who cuddled, cooed and smooched with the adoptable cuties included Zach Braff, Marin Mazzie (“Bullets Over Broadway”), Norm Lewis (“The Phantom of the Opera”), Danny Burstein, Linda Emond (“Cabaret”), Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful- The Carole King Musical”), Sarah Greene (“The Cripple of Inishmaan”), Bebe Neuwirth, Jim Norton (“Of Mice and Men”), Will Swenson ("Les Miserables”), Andy Karl and Margo Seibert (“Rocky”).
Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome all contemporary art enthusiasts, dealers and collectors... it's time for Berlin's largest art fair, on its 8th go-round this fall. Once again, more than 100 international galleries, projects and artists will present their most innovative and promising works, Berliner Liste, takes place this September 8 - 11, 2011.
Berliner Liste covers a broad spectrum ranging from contemporary sculpture, painting, drawing to installation, video art, performance and photography.
If last year's 13,000 international guests are any indication, you can expect it to be big, at least that much so. Over the past years, Berliner Liste has expanded its photography section, which was also a resounding success, and 2011 will be no exception; Berliner Liste will again present exhibitors who exclusively show photography.
More than 100 promising international galleries, projects and artists from 23 countries will show their most innovative and sophisticated works. The fair has exhibition spaces from 10 sqm to 100 sqm for galleries, art projects and individual artists. The wide range of booth sizes is done so that especially young gallery owners and individual artists can initiate their first fair participation and offer access to international collectors and journalists.
For more established art dealers and galleries there are new options for more choice and flexibility in design of the fair spaces.
Located in the centre of Berlin, the fair will be host to more than 13.000 international visitors, with over 400 journalists. It presents the opportunity to make new contacts, international networking, establish a professional public presence plus support and advice in meeting international collectors and making sales.
The 8th edition of Berlin's largest art fair takes place in the big halls of the TRAFO Berlin. TRAFO is an unique location that provides more than 7000sqm exhibition space. Located in an impressive former power plant, TRAFO will give all participating galleries, artists and projects enough space to present their works in an extraordinary architectural surrounding.
In addition to the regular viewing hours, there is a First Choice viewing on Sept 7, 3 pm. The opening night is Sept 7, 2011, 6 pm to 11 pm
.Subway: U8 Heinrich-Heine-Strasse
Rapid Transit: S3, S5, S7, S75 Jannowitzbruecke
For more information, in English or in German, visit: http://www.berliner-liste.org/
September 8 - 11, 2011TRAFO BerlinKöpenicker Straße 70
David Krut Projects is pleased to present HandPrint Portraits, Johannesburg, a solo exhibition of recent photographs by South African-born artist Gary Schneider. Schneider has been making HandPrint portraits since 1996, but has never before had a show solely devoted to this work. This exhibition marks the first time Schneider has explored a particular community outside of his family and friends.
In July 2011, David Krut Projects, Johannesburg, presented a survey of Schneider's work; it was his first exhibition in South Africa. While in Johannesburg, Schneider set up a small darkroom at Wits University Art School where he made over 50 HandPrints of artists and other members of the creative community. This New York exhibition presents a small selection of these portraits, including large-scale handprints of Senzeni Marasela, Jo Ractliffe, William Kentridge, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, Frank Malaba and David Goldblatt. In December 2011, Schneider will return to South Africa to continue this typological exploration in Cape Town.
"These photographs, made without a camera, are sweat and heat imprints into film emulsion. I consider handprint portraits to be as expressive as any of a face, more private, and possibly more revealing. They do not reveal race and, often, neither gender nor age. I borrow the imprint technique from the caves of Lascaux, (the earliest know examples of self identification) the 'Shroud of Turin', Marcel Duchamp's 'Female Fig Leaf,' Yves Klein's body prints, Jasper John's 'Studies for Skin', and 19th century Spirit Photography."
For gallery hours and further information, go to http://www.davidkrut.com/dknyindex.html.
HandPrint Portraits, JohannesburgSeptember 8 - October 22, 2011
David Krut Projects, New York Gallery526 W 26th St, #816New York, NY 10001
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