“We are enslaved to our smart devices, computers, and social networking sites as much, if not more, than by a distant king.”

– Shawn Huckins, artist.

“What does ROFL mean?”

-Danielle Grant, author of this blog post. Social media foreigner.

There’s a new blog on the scene called Letters of Note. Perhaps your twitter feed has been directing you there as of late? If so, then like me, you’ve spent some time pouring over clever, romantic, tragic, hilarious, and compelling correspondence from our shared cultural history. These missives provoke in me the following demands. Was everyone born before 1932 a professional writer and communicator? (!) Why was everything so eloquent? (!) What’s happened to our collective command of the English language? (!) Discussing this matter over dinner last week, I posed the inevitable question to my eating companion: is language de-volving instead of evolving? Bracing myself for the typical 2012 apocalyptic answer, I was pleasantly surprised when he said that when a language is born, it’s usually filled with rules and organizing principles that slowly fade and disappear as users realize that shortcuts can be made, and hence words get combined, apostrophes replace letters, etc. The argument here is that language becomes more and more efficient over time. That’s somewhat comforting, right? But do we sacrifice precision for efficiency?

That night, I came home to discover the work of Shawn Huckins in my inbox. Huckin’s work isn’t necessarily a direct answer to my concerns. In fact, what he has to say about his work is political in nature (refer to quote above) and is more about the way in which the actual communication devices we employ–smart phones and computers–often limit our ability for communication instead of expand it, as it promises to do. But what I love here is the way that Huckin’s translates these 18th c. American paintings into our own modern language. And this might be presumptuous, but his translations feel kind of . . . accurate! There is a slap in the face quality as well as a slap-stick element to these images. Can a beautifully rendered portrait or genre-scene painting really be reduced to our current slap-dash/on-the-go communication standards? No! A picture is worth 1,000 words, not 140 letters! Huckin’s postulates that we are enslaved by our communication devices. After looking at his work, I just feel that our technical devices make us a little more ridiculous and a little less well-written than our forefathers. And I think it’s important to make fun of everything, most of all, ourselves. At lease while we still have the vocabulary to do it.

Shawn Huckins will be showing his work later this year at Gildar Gallery in Denver, L2kontemporary in Los Angeles and Cain Schulte in San Francisco. Check his website for dates.



We all know and love Style Wars, the quintessential documentary of the New York street culture in the 80’s.  This was New York’s urban life in raw form before hip-hop, graffiti, breakdance and rap were recognized (and commercialized) in pop culture- no watered down, refined or user friendly version here.  The film is like a row call of the vanguards of the various urban subcultures featuring Iz the Wiz , Dondi White, Seen, Zephyr, Revolt, Futura, Daze and many more.

Twenty-eight years later, the influence of Style Wars is still far reaching.    The film will be honored (maybe) by being reimagined as a musical by Todd James (a.k.a. REAS) and Steve Powers (a.k.a ESPO).  Todd James posted on his blog that the musical version is to be seen at “Street” at LA Moca’s “Art in the Streets” April 2011”.


Marina Abramovic graces the cover of Slavic Elle this January.  The artist, who had never given fashion much thought, credits her discovery of the self-expressive medium to the Great Wall of China.  Kiša Lala of Spread Magazine reports:

“I was never interested in fashion until after I walked the Chinese Wall.” she said. “Before then, I felt like I couldn’t dress up, no lipstick, no nail polish.” Abramovic had walked the Great Wall of China in 1988 with her then partner, collaborator the German artist Uwe Laysiepen, (“Ulay”) who she had been with then for 12 years. They had started walking towards each other from opposite ends of the wall, originally intending to marry when they met in the middle, but instead, after three months of walking, when they finally reached one another, the journey was to commemorate the breakup of their grand love affair.

Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most high profile contemporary artists, lost his studio yesterday through an act of government intervention via demolition. The artist, who recently covered the floor of the Tate in a carpet of hand painted and fired sunflower seeds, (pictured below) claims that he is being targeted by the Chinese authorities.  Weiwei’s reputation for subversive rhetoric is keeping him walled within China’s borders; he hasn’t been allowed to leave the country since the announcement of his studio’s demolition.  Weiwei has yet to issue a public statement about the event.

I’m going to do a little bit of shameless self-promotion and invite you all to check out the cover story I wrote on AJ Fosik for issue 18 of Hi Fructose Magazine. If you aren’t already familiar with the work, I’ll share a few of AJ’s images with you and a snippet from the feature. Enjoy!

The Third Way Out

“AJ Fosik creates beastly three-dimensional figures out of wood, paint, and nails. Mounted on walls or monumentally erected atop pedestals, his sculptures have appeared in numerous exhibitions, the reigning representatives of a medium in which most urban contemporary artists only dabble. Displayed like hunting trophies or specimens in a museum of natural history; sometimes brightly colored; always painstakingly detail oriented, Fosik’s feral creations take the shape of fantastic or true animal beings that communicate a subversive, anti-religious commentary through the depiction of hyperbolized fictional gods. Nameless, assigned no specific meanings or powers, beholden to no formal religion – real or contrived – Fosik’s idols are not meant to contribute to some grand theological narrative of the artist’s design. They are masterfully beautiful objects that examine the nature of religious iconography through an absence of religious discourse. In this way, Fosik is pointing to the power and scope of man’s innate creativity devoid of divine inspiration.” – Lainya Magaña, Hi Fructose Magazine Issue 18

Dare Nothing, Hope for Nothing

The Time and the Way


Anthony Michael Sneed‘s Hell for Hire will open on January 13th at ArtJail in NYC.

Hell For Hire is the culmination of work that has spanned over two years time. The exhibition embodies numerous mediums from canvas to Legos and varying themes from JFK to the KKK.

Artist Statement:

Anthony Michael Sneed is a multi-platform visual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. As a small child, Sneed suffered an accident that crushed his right hand, temporarily disabling its use and thereby forcing him to become ambidextrous. The implications of being right handed and switching to left as a result of this trauma and the plausible impact it has on his right versus left brain functions fascinates Sneed and inspires inquiry into how that has translated in his work.

Legos, video games, and even the arts and craft association of the artist’s process are derivative of Sneed’s childhood memories. These tools and their application to the large-scale canvas comprise an ultimately self-referential language dominated by the basic geometric nature of the pixel. Angular shapes and rational lines constitute the visual framework across all the mediums in which he works and gives form to ideas, both abstract and conceptual. Rigid angles sharply contrast with the playful, tongue in cheek nature of his social commentary. Often incorporating early 80s 8-bit video game aesthetics, the resulting imagery can seem anachronistic or frozen in a particular time, juxtaposing the contemporary topical content with a conscious approach.


AndrewAndrew photographed by Marcus Yam for the New York Times

I’ll be the first one to admit: I don’t know everything there is to know about art. With that caveat, AndrewAndrew is one of the most exciting and, dare I say, original, works of creativity that I’ve seen in a long time. The two-man “collective” have a bio that reads like a short list of a curatorial brainstorming session: guerrilla art interventionist, tech savvy, socialist  DJ duo in NY known as “the i-pad DJ’s” who have been dressing alike for more than a decade, eliminating any aspects of personal identity outside of the joint persona in a Gatsby-esque act of freedom. I can’t think of anything more inspiring. Be sure to check out the full feature on AndrewAndrew written by Michael Schulman for the New York Times, add them on Twitter for links to their latest mixes, and check out the AndrewAndrew blog which features their latest endeavor: instant theater reviews filmed, edited and posted using only and i-phone4.


Dan will be signing copies of his book, In Plain View at Space Gallery on Friday, January 7th from 8-10PM

Be on the lookout for his work as it shows up around the city!  For each work on view at White Walls, a corresponding piece will take root in the Bay Area’s public space.

“What we can say about abstract art is that by not shoving a message down our throats, it can be more poetic.”  -Carlo McCormick

Art News is kicking off the new year with a cover story discussing emerging trends in urban and street art by C-Monster’s Carolina A. Miranda.  The article discusses the way in which perceptions of street art are stretching to encompass geometric, conceptual and abstract elements–formal artistic qualities generally associated with fine art.  Meaty terms are thrown around here; post graffiti, public intervention, and iconic mark-making among others, in an effort to name evolutionary trends happening in the genre.  Street art itself, as a common descriptor of uncomissioned public artwork is a term that is also deemed suspect. The artist MOMO sums up problematic terminologies, “The interest for me is in this gray area where words aren’t speaking quite perfectly. If we’re having trouble with the words, it means that something new is forming.”


Brad Downey