Artist Profiles



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Choice Cuts: Finding Art in Life



Once upon a time in the rolling hills of Switzerland, there lived an artist. Not just any artist, he was responsible for some of the most internationally recognizable "dark" art of our times. He had the uncanny ability to literally put faces upon his own fears, somehow channeling many of our own in the process, and rendering the images through paint, sculpture and other mediums.
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There is an American tradition of protest against infringements upon personal freedoms that has been time-honored since the beginnings of this country. Since this most recent election, there has been much talk of impending reversal of basic human rights that have been previously fought for and hard-won. Some voters demanded these changes, but the majority did not.
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At no time in recent history (at least since 9/11) have so many been so very personally challenged at the outcome of the 2016 election for president of these United States.
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It really should have been stormy on September 11, 2001, to match the horror that ensued. Instead, it was mockingly crystal clear and one of the most beautiful weather days of the year.
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We've been following artist Andy Golub documenting a number of his events for a couple of years now, and while each one has had a different 'flavor,' they've all had a similar consistent underlying theme that pertains to the human experience. There are naked bodies and there is a lot of paint. But more importantly, there is freedom. While the world reels with so much negativity, judgment and struggle in this life and times, these events are an oasis of peace and acceptance.
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Argentinian-born Natalia Zamparini (aka Naty) is one of those artists who are versatile in many genres, including fine art, murals, graphic design, and photography. She is also a henna artist, and we decided to focus for a minute on that rich tradition and her practice of it.
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Our most recent experience with Andy Golub was covering an eight hour day in which he created a 'Living Mural' involving 13 models who ultimately came together in a perfect masterpiece. There were four assistant painters to help attain the ambitious goal of a finished product by day's end and all were dedicated to seeing it to fruition. Andy was in the center of the melee, directing the creative frenzy, as well as wielding a mighty brush. There was paint everywhere, and the combination of positive energy, acceptance, organized chaos and absolute fun was more than infectious.
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We first met Kári Örn Hinriksson and his wife Jülíana Haraldsdôttir when we sat together on a flight from Iceland to New York in 2014. Facebook being the great social equalizer these days, at the end of our flight we exchanged information and vowed to keep in touch, as we were fully expecting to return to Iceland in the future. After getting home and all "friending" each other, Kári's true story began to emerge. Diagnosed with a rare, virulent type of cancer when he was only seventeen and, at the time, given two years to live, Kári has literally been fighting for his life for the last ten years.
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We hear a lot about celebrities and star musician/performers 'giving back' to favorite charities or supporting causes, and this is, in fact, quite noble and to be applauded always. But for just a second, I'd like to call attention to the altruism that exists in the world far from any glitz or glamour, this one populated by those who are struggling to make it in the music industry. DIY is alive and well in this corner, and while bands and solo artists are laser focused on their creative endeavors, there are some who have enough left to step outside of themselves to help others.
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I've always had a special affinity for street art and those who create it. Right now I'm thinking of 5 Pointz LIC, which was a mecca for graffiti artists, and their own personal victory dance over the continuing neighborhood gentrification for decades. I was lucky enough to document some of its ever morphing magnificence and posted here are some examples as an appreciation. 5 Pointz is now rubble and multi-colored dust, and therein lies some tragically beautiful poetry, like this found painted on the rooftop as it was being demolished: "No king's ransom is worth this peasants paint. You can keep your ivory towers; the culture's coming with us." And so it did.
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Artist Andy Golub staged an "NYC Body Painting Day" recently; an exhibition in Columbus Circle that drew a mixed crowd of some gawkers, along with those who attended in appreciation of artistic freedom. Reaction was respectful, for the most part, and included a general air of hushed awkwardness, yet admiration for those who were proudly displayed in all of their beautifully painted yet naked glory, that latter part, of course, being something most of us generally have nightmares about.
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Recently, we attended an exhibit that had opened in the cavernous Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, currently and actively being demolished. 'A Subtlety' was anything but. Conceived by the artist Kara Walker, this massive, temporary installation pressed hot button elements that have lived in our culture as far back as human time. At 75 feet long and 35 feet high, it sat within the actual sugar warehouse that still bore the viscous molasses coating on the walls, refusing to be power washed away.
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