Monthly Archives: March 2011

Teenage Mash Note To All-Ages Shows

Some people look back on their teenage years as a golden era. Granted, it might seem great in hindsight compared with the responsibilities of being an adult, but the way I remember it, being under 21 can be really rough. High school, high hormones, high tension with your parents. All that teenage electricity can fizzle and burn without an outlet to channel into something positive. That might bring up images of after school programs and clubs, keeping kids “off the streets” as they say… but I would also volunteer the live music show as an excellent conduit for adolescent energy.

I spent many youthful hours wrapped up in my headphones, but I was unfortunate enough to grow up in Seattle at a time when it was almost illegal for teenagers to hear live music. Due to the notorious and much reviled Teen Dance Ordinance (read more about it here: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Dance_Ordinance), all-ages shows were virtually banned in the city, as the costs involved were too high to make them profitable. While I was longingly reading the newspaper listings of all the cool bands I was too young to see, my Californian contemporaries were enjoying the thrills of live music first hand as young as 14 and 15. Even if it was just seeing an aging punk band on their umpteenth reunion tour at the local YMCA, these early experiences were crucial for the friends I’ve spoken to on the subject, always informing a life-long love of music and often inspiring a desire to create music of their own.

I had not given the topic much though until this last weekend when I attended a couple of all-ages shows at the Verdi Club and Thee Parkside as part of the Burger Boogaloo festival. Initially, I felt a little put off sharing space with kids- they seemed soooo young and silly! But I ended up reproaching myself when I remembered how much I would have appreciated the opportunity. So in honor of live music as a pleasure not reserved for adults alone, let’s hear it for the abundance of local clubs with all-ages shows in the SF area! There are the aforementioned Verdi Club and Parkside; I also recommend checking out the Bottom of the Hill in Potrero for all-ages shows, such as the one coming up this Saturday with Hunx and his Punx, Shannon and the Clams and Grass Widow.

And now for a bit of shameless self-promotion… This Thursday the 31st is “Web of Sound” at the Make-Out Room (3225 22nd Street at Mission)- it’s a free dance party with myself and guest DJs Mychedelic (Space is the Place) and Moondoggy (KUSF/Shred the Gnar) playing all kinds of crazy vinyl to inspire your feet to move. Since it sadly is not an all-ages event, there will also be lots of tasty alcoholic drinks for extra dancing “inspiration.” If you like sixties and seventies garage, psych, soul, funk, glam, folk and beyond, you should come check it out any time from ten pm until last call!

— Jackie Sugarlumps

What’s in a meme?

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Special thanks thanks to all the brilliant folks on the image boards for the image macros.


Chances are even if you don’t know what a meme is you have already participated in the proliferation and dispersal of a meme.

  • If you have ever forwarded a video or an image of a cat with a funny caption you have helped spread a meme, and in doing so you have passed a unit of culture or an idea to your friends. If they like the content in turn they will pass the image or video to their friends, and so on… 

Memes in the brain? Its more common than you might think. (I just planted one right there)

Why talk about memes on the Artlarking blog?

Memes are fascinating and more sophisticated than they are given credit for. They are a fundamentally collaborative endeavor.A meme is more or less an inside joke or common idea shared amongst individuals, some times in real life(IRL) and sometimes on the internet(OTI).

Not to say that all memes are merely related to humor, however the vast majority of new memes have some sort of humorous component. A meme can be a poorly photoshopped picture. Or a piece of crudely made art done with ms paint. Or a picture of a cat with a caption on it. Or a clever phrase repeated. But a meme is actually a subtle and nuanced act of brutal sophistication.

If “Language is a virus from outer space.” as William S. Burroughs said, then a meme is a parasite from another dimension that lives in your brain. Gross. But it’s all the more strong than just language. It has the full powers of all known aspects of media. Language, photography, illustration, video and internet where all these media now live and are capable of spreading at the click of a button.

Only strong memes are capable of being spread and proliferating throughout the global super-conscious.

If an organism with powerful jaws is adapted to eating tortoises it will pass that trait to it’s descendants. A particularly clever meme may find a niche and pass itself on to like other susceptible hosts.

The meme featuring George Bush above will find its home in the minds of liberals. However, to fully understand the meme, one must have also been a viewer of Sesame Street. Cookie Monster’s famous line was, “I saved you a cookie, but I ate it.” You also have to be politically savvy enough to remember George Bush’s mission accomplished speech.

Thus the niche of this particular meme is the minds of liberals who grew up watching Sesame Street and know of the mission accomplished speech. A fairly specific niche if you think about it.

Furthering the similarities to organisms is the way only successful memes will be passed to new hosts or survive to be reproduced in the minds of others. How many times have you told someone about something that sucks? Maybe a few, but you can bet they forgot about it rather than pass it on again.

The greatest survival trait of a meme is its ability to change over time.

A meme is capable of changing through the process of selection to represent what the people most need or desire. Memes display aspects of Lamarckian and Darwinian schools of evolution.

The “Bitches Don’t Know X” series of images show the evolution of a meme.

  • The first image is altered. Other memes are incorporated into it. Its domain expands.
  • From the original to Wilford Brimley. From Brimley to Rick Astley. The evolution of the meme  is tangible.

This shows the meme’s ability  to acquire new parts of other memes. And to improve its viability in new niches.

Think about that the next time you laugh about something and forward it on the internet!

Contemporary Textile Art + SF Street Fashion Blogs

Elaine Reichek

Elaine Reichek is a conceptual feminist artist who uses embroidery, fabric, and knits within her artwork. She was featured in the book, “Contemporary Textiles: The Fabric of Fine Art.” She received B.F.A. in Yale and B.A. in Brooklyn College. She is now currently a New York Based Artist.

I choose to feature her this week because I’ve always been inspired and by the topics she expresses through her pieces. And I’m attracted to it’s bright color and rich texture.  Reichek uses mixed media materials such as mesh, organdy in various shades, colored silk threads. She also touches on art history, representation of social contexts, and world culture.

Her famous work:

Native Intelligence 1987-1992 Series

This series represents knit replica’s of natives’ homes. Here, knitting is a metaphor. To knit is to integrate, to unify, to bond, draw together, and heal.

In the public mind, knitting is generally known as a hobby rather than industry. Integrating knitting into contemporary works of art dispels the image of an old woman making a scarf at home.

As an artist, you’ve got to experiment with all materials possible to creates an original piece of art. All her work is done with her hands. It’s raw yet detailed. And took so many hours to make!  Reicheck’s use of textiles, yarn, needlework,  and embroidery has a masculine edge. The beauty and power of feminist art is amplified by it. And our concept of textile art is elevated as well.

Tierra Del Fuegians 1986-1987 Series

Dwellings 1982- 1983 Series

photos courtesy of http://elainereichek.com/
Bonus:

SF Street Fashion

Cool Blogs To Check Out!

http://www.thesfstyle.com/

http://streetfancy.blogspot.com/

http://streetpeeper.com/cities/san-francisco?type=street_peep

~ Rae

The Politics of the White Cube: A Call for Alternative Exhibition Spaces in SF

The New Saatchi Gallery. London, UK.

Have you ever walked into an art gallery and had the feeling that you’d crossed the threshold of a tomb? The sterile white walls and the hushed whispers demarcate a sacred space. This territory is known only as “the white cube.”

We all know the formula: white walls + appropriately spaced framed artwork + title cards = reserved artistic space that inherently warrants out respect. We slowly and reverently walk from piece-to-piece, our hands clasped, pausing only briefly to tilt our heads contemplatively. We mutter in agreement about the use of color to the companion(s) we brought along with us. We observe cultural rules and etiquette surrounding gallery spaces, but why?

The answer is as complex as the question, but what I want to highlight is the counter-movement that has challenged the conventions and expectations of the white cube.

I am a proponent of democratization of art. Put simply, I think a diverse artworks should be readily available to the public with all pretense left behind.

Alternative exhibition spaces allow people to interact with art on a more personal level without feeling self-conscious about their opinion; my experience with many commercial galleries is that if you don’t have a certain look (read: don’t look like you have money to spend on art), then you’re readily dismissed.

Our comrades in arms in Chicago have flourishing do-it-yourself communities who have crafted a brilliant and accessible alternative: apartment galleries. People exhibit art in their living spaces, post hours when they’ll be at home, and open their doors to the public.

San Francisco, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. If there are unconventional exhibition spaces out there, they aren’t making nearly enough noise! San Francisco is seven square miles of artistic potential that has only been partially tapped.

Bottom line: Exhibition spaces around the city have to make a choice: they either exhibit cutting-edge pieces or they create a revolutionary space. It’s my observation that they gravitate towards the former, and thereby leaving the realm on unconventional exhibition space wide open for anyone brave enough to take a chance.

There are plenty of galleries who showcase emerging artists working with experimental materials and ideas, however many of these venues still align themselves with white cube conventions. Why aren’t more venues and individuals taking risks?

The following spaces and others like them arguably have a corner on the market for accessible alternative exhibitions:

– The Shooting Gallery and White Walls, both owned by Justin Giarla, that are committed to showcasing emerging artists and a variety of mediums. The name White Walls critiques the notion of a conventional art space… but does this space do much to subvert the norm? Sure, the art that has been exhibited is far from mainstream, but do the bones of the structure support the reform that its name suggests?

The SUB: The SUB has been a great friend to Artlarking in the past, and has opened its doors to a number of collaborative efforts.
Incline Gallery: Home of the San Pancho Art Collective. This architecturally quirky space also strives to nurture Bay Area artists.

GENUINE AUTHENTIC HAND PAINTED SIGNS show at the Summit SF.

I would particularly like to point out the burgeoning culture in cafes that exhibit art. Places like Ritual Roasters, Four Barrel, and The Summit SF showcase local artists, and when it comes to democratization of art, this is a great jumping off point. There are people out there who do not actively search for the next hip art opening, but they do enjoy their morning cup of coffee. These caffeine-hungry individuals should have access to art without having to search near and far. Additionally, a number of salons around the city have begun exhibiting artwork. I’d also like to mention the success of the Lower Haight art walks; hundreds of people attend and enjoy the casual spaces where they can see the work of emerging artists, socialize, and have a great time.

The point is, there is an audience that is ready and eager for spaces that diverge from the cold, formulaic, and exclusive white cube aesthetic.

If you know of any unconventional exhibition spaces around the Bay Area, please leave a comment. Let’s get this conversation started.

Disposable Film Fest Starts Today!

MovieMaker Magazine has called the Disposable Film Festival one of the US’  “coolest film festivals”, and I can’t help but agree.  The egalitarian, come-one-come-all mentality that surrounds the lo-fi showcase is perfectly up Artlarking’s alley.   The idea behind the fest is that the materials/technology a person has access to shouldn’t limit their ability to be creative.  Word up.

The fest started in San Francisco in 2007 by Eric Slatkin and Carlton Evans, and welcomes video captured with point-and-shoot digital cameras, webcams, cell phones, and all other non-traditional videography/filming devices.  It now screens in locations as far away as Macedonia and Beijing, Montreal and New York.

Tonight (3/24) is opening night at the Castro Theatre, and costs a mere $12.  Throughout the week you’ll find panel discussions, filmmaker interviews, workshops, and a concert/workshop with Pomplamoose, the indie duo that’s making a viable living through releasing “video songs” (it all began with their off-kilter version of Single Ladies)  They’re performing live Saturday along with a videosong making workshop.   Here’s a list of all the events this week.   If you’ve ever thought of becoming the next DePalma or Cameron, don’t miss out- here’s your foot in the door to the iPhone Oscars.

Night Market @ Public Works (Sat. 3/26/11)

SF Underground logo, via http://foragesf.comThere’s so much good food to be had here in the Bay, that’s for sure. Yet some of it can’t even be found in restaurants. You probably know someone who successfully homebrews, or makes an awesome lemon preserve, or bakes a mean cupcake. And unless you’re pals, how are you supposed to get your greasy little paws on some of that homecooked fare?

Forage SF gives these casual craftspeople the opportunity to show off their wares at their Underground Market, which you can check out this Saturday, 3/26 at Public Works (161 Erie Street).

The first wave of the event (from 11:00am to 4:00pm) will have more preserved goods, although food stalls will be there. The nighttime portion (6:00pm-2:00am) will have butchery workshops (sadly, already full), music, and a dancefloor. And seriously, take a look at this list of vendors and tell me your mouth isn’t watering.

It’s $5 for the morning and $10 at night–and you’ll need to complete the free registration on the SF Underground Market website.

-Kristina

Music Industry Update: Cash Rules Everything Around Us?

Cash Rules Everything Around Us, in the music industry – or at least, it did up until about the turn of the century. Now that we are fully immersed in the “Digital Era,” we are seeing more and more emerging artists with lower budgets and less major label support. So is this a good thing or a bad thing for creative expression?

It was as recent at the year 2000 when record sales were at an all-time peak. This was the year of Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP, Britney Spears’Oops!… I Did It Again“, and, of course, ‘N Sync/*NSYNC’s blockbuster album “No Strings Attached”. Since then, in just over a decade, U.S.-based sales have dropped over 50% – a scary statistic to any members of the Mickey Mouse Club who were hoping for a career in the next big boy band. It’s as if the Internet has become the new century’s Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Many smaller artists have clawed their way into the public’s consciousness due to online publications such as Pitchfork Media (the now-Grammy winning Arcade Fire were reported to have gone out of print with their first record, Funeral, in the week following its review). On the flipside, sales have dipped for big artists like Eminem, whose 2011 release ‘Recovery’ – which was deemed a massive “comeback success” by most of the industry – sold roughly a million less copies in its first week than the aforementioned ‘Marshall Mathers LP’ did in 2000. Thing is, Em still ain’t hurting for cash, and relatively well-known, working-class indie rock bands such as the National and Arcade Fire certainly aren’t living in Hollywood mansions. The gap between the two has simply narrowed a smidge – which is as much as most up-and-coming artists can ask for in the newly-digitalized musical landscape.

Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to the record industry, pop music still reigns supreme. Take one listen to Justin Beiber‘s Top-10 hit “Baby,” or to Rihanna’s seemingly ubiquitous string of recent singles, and you’ll sense instant commonalities between today’s and the year 2000’s popular musical climate. The difference is simply that pop music is selling slightly less, and smaller, more experimental artists are getting a shot at the market. When it comes to making money, some artists with more condensed fanbases have found ways of marketing themselves that larger artists could only dream of. One such example is post-hardcore group Glassjaw, whose last full-length record, Worship and Tribute, was released for Warner Bros. way back in 2003. The band has since departed from Warner Bros.; they went into hiding for a short time, but in the past year quietly released five separate 7″ singles on vinyl. Hungry for new music from the band, Glassjaw’s audience snapped up the 7″‘s in a veritable heartbeat; the proceeds allowed the band to fund the pressing of a new EP, titled Coloring Book, which they have been giving away for free on a recent national tour (Glassjaw played the Regency on February 27th, 2011, to a near-sold out audience). It’s a lesson in marketing that up-and-comers can only hope to emulate.

Glassjaw at the Regency Ballroom, photo by John Tucker Stevenson

 

Also contributing to the prospect of a surging “working class” of artists are those with a certain degree of credibility, such as Animal Collective, who are willing to use their success in order to support their peers. The Collective – who have been releasing albums for roughly a decade, but only recently garnered mainstream acclaim for 2007’s ‘Strawberry Jam’ and 2009’s ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ – started their own label several years back, Paw Tracks, to which they signed Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. And in 2010 Ariel Pink responded with a landmark year of its own, releasing the excellent Before Today to rave reviews. This type of inter-scene camaraderie helps smaller bands reach a more widespread audience, therefore supporting independent music as a whole.

Overall, it’s tough to say whether having less money is helping popular music appeal to a more forward-thinking audience. Bands such as Radiohead are worthy of an argument in the opposite direction – while they are currently without the support of a major label, their fanbase is as thriving as it’s always been, and their per-album budget still knows absolutely no bounds. But for every Radiohead there seem to be a hundred Glassjaws – thriving, crafting incredible and intelligent music, and yet, staying within a reasonably maintainable budget. Only the future will tell which end will ultimately reign supreme. AME