Thursday, July 28, 2011

Favorite Places - Vol. 1 "The Loft"

Originally, it was hard to explain the appeal of the loft to me. You eat, sleep, cook, read, work, dress, and entertain all in one room. That sounds awful. But there is something so amazing about lofts. Why is something this industrial and basic so intriguing? I can't get enough of them. 

The concrete floors, the high ceilings, the exposed brick and plumbing. The space is so basic, so raw. It shuns excess and embraces the simple. They are utilitarian and as such respected.

The loft brings up thoughts of what could've been. The lawyer who passed on her passion for writing fiction. The marketing executive who turned away from painting for a more lucrative career. The loft is all in, doesn't hold back. It isn't practical and calculated. It isn't about acquisition but instead community.
The loft is loud and abrasive but comfortable. Its cold and industrial but inviting. Simple and beautiful.

Everyone should live in a loft at some point. I think.

For a really interesting read on loft living, pick up Chuck Close: Life. Hearing how artists in New York lived at that time, about the communities that were built, and the art that was created is amazing.

These featured here are from various places in downtown LA including my new favorite, The Pacific Electric Building

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Matt Rogers

This is an artist I've seen on a couple trips up to the Napa area. Each time, in different locations I'm drawn to his paintings. Originally I was a fan of his Dark Horse series but more and more I'm drawn to his Outside paintings.
This is Hill Cloud. One of my favorites. If it was in my house I'd have a chair set up right in front of it. Just for this.

Here is First Chuckker. I can't get past how much momentum the painting seems to carry even just as a black and white. In person they have an energy and intensity. He gets a lot out of it by painting black on white, white on black, and so on giving it so much more depth than just shading with black.

Check out more of his work - Matt Rogers ART

And if you happen to be in Napa or St. Helena look for his work in various galleries.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Musical Musings

art by Tanner Hasse

The great child philosopher, Stewie Griffin, once sardonically quipped, "You can find em on my Myspace page along with my favorite songs and movies and things that other people have created but that I use to express my individualism."

I remember watching that episode and simultaneously laughing and wincing. "That one hit a little too close to home," I thought. I self-consciously realized that I do, in fact, express who I am by the music that I listen to and the movies that I watch (as my Facebook page can attest). And this is precisely because my taste in art and music, like most everyone's, is incredibly personal, such that you could (I have hoped) draw conclusions about me simply by the musical and artistic company that I have kept.
The oft-spoken statement, "I listen to everything and just listen to whatever is on the radio," has always confused me. I simply haven't been able to relate. It was hard to understand how someone could be a lover of everything and nothing all at once. Or maybe simply indifferent. While I might casually say, "I listen to everything," what I really mean is that I listen to a broad swath of music, with favorites all along the way and musicians/composers that I would passionately argue for if their music was ever impugned. Music for me has been a passion.

I guess I have fancied myself a musical vegetarian (a fitting counterpart to actually being a vegetarian) as opposed to a musical omnivore. I have carefully selected what I will and will not consume and consciously avoided the fast-food type of conveyor belt music that pervades so many radio stations. Instead, I have sought the organic music; the music that is invested with a piece of the artist planted deep within the seed of each song and album. And I have trumpeted all of this with a great deal of self-satisfaction. "This is who I am," I have said as I hummed along. Musical snobbery, perhaps (and many will agree). But it was me.
I have recently wondered, though, if my degree of passion would stay the same if it were publicly silent. If instead of being broadcast on Facebook, a t-shirt or ardently shared with my friends, it was simply a quiet passion hidden strictly within. Would I still feel as though this music said something about me? Maybe it was only relevant because of who it was being said to: all of those that know it and love it as well as all of those that don't. Perhaps it needed to be placed alongside the indifference of others so that it could be magnified and truly seen as a passion.

In that vein, I thought about the music that I simply love; the music that remains ensconced on my iPod playlist of favorites. I thought about the first song I heard by Andrew Bird as his whistle blended together with his violin and gradually gave way to his voice. I thought about the four different and equally nuanced versions of Sufjan Steven's Chicago and how I came to favor the acoustic version above the others because it enhanced the lyrics and gave it a depth that the others seemed to lack. I thought about Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and how it revealed new layers each time I listened to it that only increased my appreciation for its raw simplicity. I thought about the first time that I listened to Midlake's Roscoe while spending a weekend with a few of my closest friends and how each of us took something unique away from that song as we tried to verbalize what we loved about it most. I thought about so many other songs and of all the new music that is measured against these songs, the carefully selected few breaking through to join those special others. I realized that I loved this music because it is tightly tethered to the chords that move me, making me feel as though I am harmonizing with what I hear. And whether these songs were secrets that only I knew or the lyrical lingua franca tying everyone together, I believe they would resonate just as deeply. This will sound overly dramatic to anyone that has never lost themselves in a song...but it won't say nearly enough for those that have.

Music like this is truly a Muse and can exist with passion in both the quiet spaces inside of us as well as on the billboards that declare, "This is me. This is what I like. This is who I am."

photo by Tanner Hasse

- submitted by Sean Metherell

Friday, July 15, 2011

There's Another You Out There

One of my favorite, and at the same time most concerning thoughts is to think about the impact of major and minor decisions. Where would I be right now if years ago I had decided to attend a different college? Choose a different major? Take a different job? Move to a different city? Who would that person be?.. would I like them? At this exact time what would I be doing? What would I look like? The thought is so interesting and at the same time terrifying. Would I really want to know? If you had that option, knowing you couldn't change anything, would you take that look? One of the scariest thoughts I have is that I haven't achieved my potential. What if this other person was a better artist? More interesting person?

I started this blog because a long time ago someone told me inside was a great artist that needed to be let out. And even though it took me a few years, this is one step towards finding that other person and not being afraid anymore of what he might look like.

Hopefully others find this inspires them to find their artist.

There is an outstanding post on a similar, but much more profound thought that anyone who thinks about these things should read. Take a look at The History of Words, a blog by the one I call "The King". Also, I can't WAIT to see that movie.

SF Rock Project

There are a couple of things that always make me happy. Seeing young kids play music is one of them. Music requires so much practice and commitment. It takes patience and follow through. Things I think we underestimate kid's capacity for. No one expects a kid to sit still for 30 minutes to practice an instrument. We have to medicate them for that, right? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. 

To that point music takes support. And it also needs teachers and others to encourage. Which is why I got so excited when I saw this band of kids playing on Fillmore St at the Jazz Festival last time I was in SF. The group was made up of kids from the SF Rock Project, a non-profit working with kids after school and during the summers teaching music performance. It's sort of like School of Rock, but in SF, and without Jack Black breaking kids out of school in the back of his creepy van... 

Check out their website:

 With schools being faced with such severe financial pressures and music programs being cut, it is great to see things like this happening.

Look for other programs like this in your neighborhood. They're out there. Support them. Because in 10-20 years I don't want to have to listen to crappy music because our government couldn't balance a budget...
photos by Tanner Hasse

Thursday, July 14, 2011

7 Defining Albums

I by no means am a music critic. So be advised anytime I start raving about any "must hear" albums. I mean... still check it out. Just don't send me pretentious emails after explaining how you've heard better music come out of a toddlers toy keyboard. Ok, still send those... It will make for a great coffee table book that I'll sell at Urban Outfitters or something. Then with the money I make from the book I'll record an entire album of toddlers banging on toy keyboards just because I can... but I digress.

Here is a collection of albums that are very debatable in their musical and artistic contributions but nonetheless have had an impact on me. I submit this challenge to you: think about your life and find 5, 7, 10, whatever albums or songs that tell your story. Send me the list, I'd love to see what has influenced others and how.

First on the list is a classic. Bryan Adams - So Far So Good. This was one of my dad's favorites and my sister and I listened to it often as kids. Then it got stuck in the cd player... for years... and we heard a LOT of this album. Despite being played over and over, 7 minutes at a time (the time of our commute) every day on our way to school, it still remains a favorite of mine and brings back fond (mostly) memories of elementary school.

Third Eye Blind. This was the first concert I ever went to. I played this cd over and over and over while I did homework in high school. I remember moving out of the small town I grew up in to the slightly larger town and there was a radio station that played alternative rock. I remember turning it on and going, "Whaaaat is THIS?" Ace of Base might have been my first cd (hey... no judgement) but this was my first music love. Rock after this was no longer just guys in tight jeans with long hair and beards (no offense Boston, you were incredibly influential too...). Mock me all you want. Just tell me you don't start singing along anytime Jumper hits the speakers... Yea... that's what I thought...

Ah yes. The trio that made punk pop. Blink 182. I still remember the first time Dammit came on the radio. I was in my mom's art studio where my drums were set up and I sat staring at the radio wide eyed waiting for SOMEONE TO PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THAT WAS! After that my Dickies pants rode a little lower, my hair stood a little taller, and my belt buckles got bigger. Hey, everyone has got to start somewhere. Some people started with NoFX, Operation Ivy, or the Misfits. I started with Blink and worked backwards. It was years before I listened to anything that had more than three chords and a lightening fast drum beat.

Bush Sixteen Stone is right there with Third Eye Blind. I didn't listen to it near as much but it definitely was a big part of that time period for me. My best friend Alex was listening to them a lot on one trip I took to visit him. I came home determined to find out who this was, where they came from, and where I could find more. Shortly after we moved leading to my alternative rock discovery. Classic.

Journey. College. Karaoke. Enough said.

(Editors -er- Bloggers note: In no way, do I recommend Journey for Karaoke. No one, I repeat NO ONE can handle Steve Perry's pipes. But hey, on the other hand who doesn't love singing along to Separate Ways at a party?)

I still get text messages to this day reading "Hey! Journey just came on and I totally thought of you!"
You're welcome, college

This next one was more of a concert than an album. Bon Iver. My friend Sean had tickets to their show and last minute couldn't go so I bought them off him (I'm going to leave alone the fact I wasn't originally invited, SEAN...). This marked a major shift in musical interests for me. I never understood a lot of the slow, depressing stuff my friends were all listening to and then I saw these guys live and it just made sense. Now my playlists feature more Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes (who I'm listening to as I write this), Margot, and Explosions in the Sky than Anti-Flag or Rx Bandits (there is still a bit though).

And finally, Thrice. All of their albums marked a very specific time for me because whenever they were released they were instantly the most listened to cd of that time. I heard Thrice as an opening band and was never the same. I saw them countless times (ok 7 isn't countless but still...) including driving 5+ hours ONE WAY to see them in Portland, finishing the show, then driving 5+ hours back that night. As my musical tastes changed and developed Thrice seemed to stay with me every step of the way. I'd start listening to something different and them less and less and then they'd launch another album which was right where I was at the time and it would shoot right back to the top of my cd changer. Vheissu was my favorite but you can really pick any of them. One of my favorite songs of all time is "Come All You Weary" and if you haven't heard it before, drop everything and do so... Seriously... I'll wait...

So there it is. 7 albums that like it or not, defined very significant times for me. Send me yours or post them on your own blog and I'd be happy to link to it. If nothing else it is an interesting discussion to have among friend. Enjoy the end of the week, artists.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And Me Another

It’s not too late to watch the water move west,
Take its time as children’s feet splash soft with sounds.
We made our way higher to get a better view,
To chase birds, to earn what we had left in the cooler.

Dylan’s asleep now,
His glass empty, mine still full.
We could have been something, but Dylan grew up this way,
And me another.
What we did do, though, is we climbed high that day,
So high that it became too late to see almost anything below.
Dylan said, we should rest before we head back down,
We were under dressed, wind whipped quick, the light leaving with it.

We came back years later and the hill looked smaller than we remembered,
Looked liked something of blood and skin
This time we took our jackets, but didn’t make it to the top,
We could have been something,
What we were was this.

A. James King

You can follow A. James King on twitter: @ideaofthewest

Monday, July 11, 2011

A San Francisco Treat

Meghan & Alex
One of the most inspiring things for me is taking trips. Being creatively stuck and taking a trip is like not being able to fall asleep on a hot night and then getting up an putting on a fan. Its this instant refreshing wave. Anytime I go home to visit my family I always come back with a renewed drive for art. Seeing my mom (whose art will be soon displayed...) and a lot of free time to spend among my thoughts I think is the biggest instigator of creativity. Also present on this list of most creatively stimulating trips is spending time in San Francisco with two of my closest friends, Meghan and Alex. The time is relaxing, the conversations stimulating, and the scenery stunning. It had all the necessary elements: time with friends, provoking discussions, time to myself to think, music, and a beach and barbecue thrown in for good measure. It also provided me a good opportunity to start taking more pictures and learning the in's and out's of my camera. More to come... hopefully.

For an interesting read, take a look at Meghan's blog "The History of Words".

I love walking the streets of SF and this day could not have been any better. I just wish my camera battery had made it to see some of the other amazing buildings... Lesson learned.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Welcome to the artist escaped, my latest experiment to inspire and promote creativity, both my own and others. Making art for me starts with a mindset often created from an environment or interaction. This is intended to be my artistic community of ideas and thoughts coming from a side of me up to this point seldom seen or heard from. Its a place where I can visit, away from the distractions of normal life, and find things I found inspiring or put things I create. Hopefully it can also be a similar place for others. Now because writing is not one of my artistic strengths, and it happens to be an amazing day outside, I'm going to draw this to a close and welcome you to the other side of me.