Four 5’s | Four Weekend Inspirations for Five Senses

Read | Creative Block

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Danielle Krysa, the curator of the incredible and inspiring arts blog The Jealous Curator, published her first book in 2014. Creative Block is all about unleashing your personal artistic powers through discovering and being inspired by the work of other artists. While the features inside the book are beautiful enough to make it worth the read, what really makes the book unforgettable is the collection of insightful and witty advice from successful artists. The interviews cover a wide range of topics – everything from why artists create to how they overcome creative blocks. The book is a delight and will bring inspiration to any aspiring creative – purchase it online here.

Listen | Death Song by Replicas

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Replicas newest release, Death Song, is the single from their upcoming third EP which will be completed later this Spring. The band’s eerie electronic intro lulls you through the first two minutes of the song before launching into a wild foray of electric guitar and growling vocals. The song is restless, angsty, and dirty but never loses focus of the overall feel the band is trying to communicate. Give it a listen and check out their other music here.

Watch | Claywoman Speaks

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While this may possibly be the creepiest short film ever created, its also one of the most intriguing. Performance artist Michael Cavadias created the character of Claywoman, a 500-million year old wise woman who – despite her wavering voice, tattered robes, and menacing appearance – travels the world to relieve strangers of their deepest pain. Cavadias’ anti-superhero has garnered attention from The New Museum, HOWL Festival, Le Petite as well as art festivals abroad. This five minute short film was made in partnership with The Guardian and was directed by Rob Roth. Watch to see if the Claywoman’s magic works on you.

Visit | The Illuminated Mural in Detroit

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Muralist Katherine Craig spent over a year creating the incredible mural which covers the entire side of the nine-story building on E. Grand Blvd in Detroit, MI. Completed in 2009, the mural has become a fixture in the city known for its growing arts scene and is a must-see for any visitors passing through North End. All of Craig’s hard work may soon be lost, however. The building’s owner has expressed interest in selling the property to developers which would mean the old condo – and the art which has become a staple piece in the city’s landscape – would be destroyed. Craig is currently in a lawsuit and is battling both the city and the building’s owner. We’re keeping our fingers crossed but this may be a sight to see sooner rather than later.

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Divine Discontent | Harper Lee, Susan Sontag, and Andre Dubus on Writing

 

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”

Harper Lee

“If only I could feel about sex as I do about writing! That I’m the vehicle, the medium, the instrument of some force beyond myself.”

Susan Sontag

“A story can always break into pieces while it sits inside a book on a shelf; and, decades after we have read it even twenty times, it can open us up, by cut or caress, to a new truth.”

Andre Dubus

 

In Her Element | Holly Keogh’s Thoughtful Mixed Media Pieces

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Although Holly Keogh grew up in a home of artists –  her father was a musician and her mother worked as a textile designer and painter – she was unsure of her own ambitions.

Her family moved from the U.K. to Charlotte, N.C. when she was a young girl and she attended arts-focused schools but always considered her own creative pursuits more of a hobby than a vocation. A year after enrolling in college to study communications, she was miserable. Holly switched majors to art and embarked on a journey to Cape Town, South Africa to uncover her own inspiration and process for creating. There, she drew inspiration from childhood memories and feelings of being at home in two different continents to create her beautiful mixed media pieces and painted portraits.

Now back in the States, Holly works in Charlotte, N.C. out of Slate, a furniture and arts collective.  You can view more of her work here.

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In the Face of Insecurity | A Brief History of the Riot Grrrl Movement

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Historically and into today, the music scene has been a male-dominated sphere. Since the emergence of rock-n-roll in the late 50s, male performers have had the freedom to challenge social standards, sexual stigmas, and political fallacies through their performances. Though they’ve undoubtedly received sharp criticism from conservative onlookers for “vulgar” displays (think of everything from the Pelvis and Robert Plant’s orgasmic screeches to Bowie’s lifelong attack on sexual norms and Black Sabbath making every middle-class white American dad afraid his kids were going to Hell in a hand basket), the social barriers male performers broke through were compounded when it came to their female counterparts.

Up until recent decades, women who pushed to be in the music scene were limited by stereotypical roles. Don’t get me wrong, we all love the desperately unhappy, alluring Penny Lane but do we actually want to be her? With the exceptions of Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and other “greats”, many female artists were limited in their ability to create during the developing years of rock and popular music because people simply believed that women couldn’t “rock out” hard enough.

Then Riot Grrrl happened. To be fair, it didn’t change everything. However, the movement fundamentally changed the views surrounding female artists in the music scene.

Riot Grrrl encouraged women to stand their ground and make a place for themselves in the male-saturated punk rock scene. Showgoers said that these girls would rock harder, mosh harder, and often fight harder than any of the other musicians out there. The movement was shocking and divisive – purposefully so. In challenging the expectation for women in the punk rock scene, members of Riot Grrrl opened up the door for discussions on all of society’s beliefs about women’s rights, abilities, and freedoms.

Riot Grrrl’s abrasive demand for change not only shifted the public’s view of female artist, it changed the way many women saw themselves. They challenged the traditional views of women in an aggressive way that pushed the boundaries. These women were angry and they weren’t afraid to show it.

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The Riot Grrrl Timeline

1990

The band Bikini Kill is formed in Olympia, WA by Kathleen Hanna, Billy Karren, Kathi Wilcox, and Tobi Vail. They become a fixture in the underground punk rock scene, encouraging female show goers to come on stage and handing out lyrics of their songs so women could sing along.

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1991

Bikini Kill spends the summer in Washington, D.C. where Hanna collaborates with members from the band Batmobile. They begin working on a zine called Riot Grrrl and the movement is born with the goal of increasing female activity and legitimacy in the punk rock scene.

Bikini Kill releases their demo cassette titled “Revolution Girl Style Now” and the first “Girl Night” event is organized in Olympia, WA. It features both Bikini Kill and Batmobile along with 15 other female-fronted or all women bands. The performance, which kicked off the first night of the International Pop Underground Convention, causes waves in more than just the underground punk scene. By the mid 1990s, the Riot Grrrl movement would become a nationwide fixture as that country battled to pass laws on reproductive rights, women’s equality in the workplace, and more.

1991-1995

Riot Grrrl chapters sprout up in cities nationwide to provide groups where women can discuss and support each other in issues regarding sexuality, gender equality, artistic expression, and female empowerment.

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1993

Perhaps in the most telling media quip about the Riot Grrrl movement, journalist Kim France expresses the fear of many conservative Americans when she writes,”They do things like scrawl ‘SLUT’ and ‘RAPE’ across their torsos before gigs, produce fanzines with names like Girl Germs and hate the media’s guts. They’re called Riot Grrrls, and they’ve come for your daughters.”

1995

Bikini Kills makes an appearance on Roseanne, showing the dynamic yet still divisive force the Riot Grrrl movement had come to play in mainstream culture.

1996

By the mid 1990s, many of the original Riot Grrrl bands – including Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Huggy Bear – split due to feelings of misrepresentation in the media and frustration that more focus was placed on their radical antics over their dedication to bringing women together creatively.

Though many of the original Riot Grrrl members are no longer playing music, they continue to play integral roles in developing collaborative female communities and encouraging women to positively view themselves and their artistic abilities.

 

Riot Grrrls of the Past and Present

Heavens to Betsy

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Sleater-Kinney

Huggy Bear

Le Tigre

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Love them or hate them, Riot Grrls made (and are still making) some serious noise. They’ve done just what the name says – they create a riot; a purposeful disruption of the status quo that forces people to listen, to think, and to decide whether the way things have always been are the ways things should be.

Four 5’s | Four Inspirations for Five Senses this Weekend

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These fresh sources of inspiration will be keeping our minds sharp, thoughtful, and busy this weekend.

Read | Cleo Wade

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Poet and founder of the arts collective, Chez Conversations, Cleo Wade is a powerhouse creator focused on keeping essential truth the main focus of her work. She has built a large following using her Instagram @cleowade as a platform for spreading simple, evocative messages about life, creativity, and kindness. You can read more about her approach and passion for fueling the minds and spirits of young artists here.

Listen | Not To Disappear by Daughter

While sticking to their inherently melancholy temperament, Daughter’s second album shows a definite growth and strengthening of the band’s style that makes this moody album an almost guilty pleasure listen while ensuring you don’t feel all your teenage angst rushing back to haunt you.

The album is expansive – both in its recording and lyrics – and full of dramatic, echoing highs and lows, vibey riffs, and a few creative sample rips interfused with Elena Tonra’s lilting vocals.

Watch | The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour is a reminiscent portrayal of reporter David Lipsky’s weekend spent with David Foster Wallace during Wallace’s Infinite Jest book tour in 1996. The movie is darkly comical and – at times – uncomfortable to watch in its honest portrayal of both writers’ strengths and shortcomings. In conversations that could easily seem too expansive for a 106 minute-long movie, Segal and Eisenberg dive into Wallace’s well-documented struggle with depression and his deep meandering contemplations on life and loneliness.

Although Wallace was a member of Gen X, the movie is without a doubt targeted towards a millennial audience. The tone and style is intimate and overtly personal. Segal’s almost overly congenial, self-effacing depiction of Wallace is immediately familiar (think of a hairier Marshall Eriksen) but as the film goes on, he skillfully brings Wallace’s haunting desperation to the surface. At times, he becomes frazzled, overwhelmed, and you can tangibly feel his frustration about to break through. But Segal only allows us a glimpse before pulling back into the forced politeness that guards him against Lipsky’s curiousity, both as a journalist and fellow writer.

Eisenberg as Lipsky is simultaneously relatable and obnoxious. His jaded frustration and envy of Wallace increase as he spends more time with the famous author. As the movie progresses, we see Lipsky move from a voyeuristic wonder at Wallace’s success to a more serious grappling to understand the mystery behind the man. 

Both writers are insecure about the worth of their work; both are unhappy about where they stand in life, in writing, and in relationships; and both are even unsure of their feelings towards the other. The movie doesn’t attempt to answer many of the questions it asks – ones about the nagging pursuit for authenticity and the paralyzing fear of failure. Without offering tidy, trite solutions The End of the Tour adds texture and resonance to broad issues that are familiar to every person – artist or not.

Visit | English Kills in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Founded in 2007 by Brooklyn based artist Phoenix Lights and his wife, Teresa, English Kills seeks to represent local artists while building the emerging art scene in one of Brooklyn’s fastest growing neighborhoods.

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English Kill’s current show is a collection of illustrations by the artist Mammalsoap. The pencil and paper sketches feature other worldly creatures, dreamlike visions, and sinister animals the artist felt inspired to create while serving time in an upstate NY penitentiary. The sketches tenuously but courageously explore the depths of the artist’s subconscious, visually depicting the benevolent and malevolent duality residing in the human mind.

For information about the gallery and to check out Mammalsoap’s work, visit their website.

*Header Photo by John Rosenthal

Write Drunk, Edit Sober | The Habits of 5 Great Writers

While it may or may not be in your best interest to follow Hemingway’s famous drinking and writing advice, there is something to be said for examining and emulating some of the habits of great artists. Even though successful creation often boils down to hard work and perseverance, hopefully a few of these tricks will help you get started.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

The beloved author, poet, and activist paid for a hotel room by the month and used that as the space where she did all of her writing. Each day from early morning until 2pm, she locked herself into the room with nothing but a dictionary, a thesaurus, and pen and paper. Setting aside a specific time and place with limited distractions cleared the space in Angelou’s mind and created an efficient environment for her work to develop.

Henry Miller

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Miller’s all-or-nothing approach to his writing necessitated he completely finish whatever section of writing he was working on that day. He also strived to have continual and regular inspiration from outside resources – from museums, from exploration on foot or by bike, and from friends. Miller’s description from his personal journal:

Work Schedule 1932-1933

Mornings:

If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus. If in fine fettle, write.

Afternoons:

Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No instrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

Evenings:

See friends. Read in cafés. Explore unfamiliar sections – on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry. Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program. Paint if empty or tired. Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

Jack Kerouac

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Kerouac harbored a fair amount of superstitious beliefs which carried over into his writing habits as well. He was known to kneel on his knees, say a prayer, then light a candle before beginning his work and only blowing it out once finished for the day. He also had an obsession with the numbers 7 and 9 and would often balance on his head and lower his toes until they touched the floor 7 or 9 times to break up his time while writing.

 

Hunter S. Thompson

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Rather than trying to explain Thompson’s very original creative approach, we’ve just copied his daily list as recorded in his journal.

3:00 p.m. rise
3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills
3:45 cocaine
3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill
4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill
4:15 cocaine
4:16 orange juice, Dunhill
4:30 cocaine
4:54 cocaine
5:05 cocaine
5:11 coffee, Dunhills
5:30 more ice in the Chivas
5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.
6:00 grass to take the edge off the day
7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch-Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas)
9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously
10:00 drops acid
11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass
11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.
12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write
12:05-6:00 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies.
6:00 the hot tub-champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo
8:00 Halcyon
8:20 sleep

Stephen King

Stephen-King

King’s approach focuses less on a specific checklist and more on the mindset and personal ritual needed for productive writing sessions. In his book “On Writing”, he extrapolates:

Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule – in at about the same time very day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk – exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual.

In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each  night – six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight – so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.

The space can be humble…and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world that you mean business.

You Sly Devil | Artist Polly Nor

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Darkly comical and uniquely relatable, Polly Nor’s snarky illustrations were created with the millennial woman in mind. Based out of North London, Nor has developed an online cult following while completing projects for Bloomsbury, the Salzburg Festival, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Nor’s work features young women, often in the privacy of their homes and surrounded by the accessories and activities of modern life. She captures the honesty and quirky awkwardness of these little moments we experience daily and often in isolation – in the bath, taking a sexy selfie, waiting on a text, or masturbating while watching TV. These lurid little peeks into everyday life are colored in tropical pinks, corals, and reds with splashes of green and blue. While Nor’s refreshing approach initially feels like a guilty pleasure, each illustration focuses the viewer’s attention on deeper, darker issues going on beneath the playful surface and challenges us to rethink assumptions about female sexuality and emotion in modern day culture.

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All illustrations were taken from Polly Nor’s website. To see more of her work, click here.