Extra Bold & Glossy

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Initiating the myriad of feelings associated with a bombardment of visuals and information that is more often than not the story of my life, is Olaf Breuning’s vivacious installation at Metro Pictures. Anxiety gives way to excitement leads to enchantment and all over again but to become one of them. Breuning’s oversized bubbles of photo collage, portraits he staged of friends and otherwise, communicate what it means to be human, all the billions of particles that influence us. Amidst this are the reflective sculptures, versions of ourselves perched on metal scaffolding contemplating whether to observe the party or join it. At the end of the day and in need of some freewheeling liberation I put on my best bear suit and enter in. I turned to Jeremy Scott’s irrepressible Moschino, grinning teddies and heart emojis for something extra bold and glossy. Breuning’s work is joyful without being needy, in it I find my most fun self lost in an endless dream world of interpretation.

Moschino bear mini dress, Moschino letter bomber jacket, Moschino glossy heart sunglasses, Clover Canyon platform shoes

Metro Pictures, Olaf Breuning, The Life

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Rouge New York, Photographs by Tylor Hou

L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of Jewelry Making

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Set in a jewel box like environ at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum I had the pleasure of attending L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels, a glimpse into the spirit of creation that defines the iconic French jewelry house. Here I was immersed in the savior-faire which takes a design from concept to the first steps in creation. Taught by L’ECOLE’s impassioned artisans, each who posses an exquisite skill set that make up the process of turning designs into dreamlike confections. A lover of drawing and painting I was overcome with a new appreciation for the level of precision and detail required to execute the initial design drawing and gouache rendering. Today’s subject and what I consider a long time muse of Van Cleef & Arpels is the ephemeral butterfly, the gouache painted stones representative of the diamonds to be inlaid on the wings. In my course Explore & Create 1: From Design to Mock-Up I move from the drawing table to the jeweler’s bench as my two dimensional design takes the form of a pewter mock-up. I try my hand at cutting, setting and polishing honing in on the gesture of the artisan. What I’m left with is the beauty of an experience that is genuine, and admiration for all that the storied jewelry house stands for and has created.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels, Explore & Create 1: From Design to Mock-Up

Photographs by Jason Gringler

Frida Blossoms

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Nature, art and fashion may be the ultimate at this moment for me. Presenting just that vibrant portal of escapism is Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at the New York Botanical Garden. A path of tall lanky Sunflowers, magenta Fuchsia blossoms and tear shaped Elephant-Ear leaves gives way to an atrium with cobalt walls, terra-cotta brick, and a pyramid of cactuses, a recreation of the lush courtyard garden that was a source of inspiration and a constant subject in Frida’s art throughout her life. While walking through the garden you experience the full impact of nature where the rich smell of blossoms, damp earth and decay permeate the air and delicate, lacey plants drape themselves over fearsome, spiky succulents. Exit Frida’s magical garden, cross the green acreage to the north side and find the Library where you will discover an intimate gallery of Frida’s work. The stylistic hybrid which can be seen in Frida’s paintings, a mix of western Vanitas and Still Life traditions together with Surrealism, portraiture and symbolism specific to indigenous Mexican culture is also evident in her iconic persona and unimitatable style. A true embodiment of her art, an impression to me that is rare and meaningful. Here I create a Frida twist providing a glimpse of designers whose work is spiked with a confection of influences but is something very much their own, a flounced brick red top by Vika Gazinskaya, a vivid mixed-print skirt by Doro Olowu, the spice of Charlotte Olympia sandals, decked in jewels laden with nature’s symbolism by KC Sukamto, and topped with a custom Cosma De Marinis exotic collage headpiece. Nature and signature is clearly sentiment in Frida’s world.

All jewelry: KC Sukamto Magdalena Collection, Madia Earrings, Flora Ring, Majeste Ring, Espine Ring, Madia Bracelet, Vika Gazinskaya flouncy top, Doro Olowu patchwork skirt, Charlotte Olympia sandals, Cosma De Marinis collage headpiece, Face Stockholm lipstick in Matte Sangria, Jin Soon nail polish in Pop Orange

New York Botanical Garden, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life

Hair Collage by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Samantha Jozic, Photographs by Jason Gringler

Treasure Garden

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The air, heavy and fragrant wraps around you like a blanket and transports you to a different time, location and climate. You are in the subtropical terrain of Mexico, the lush courtyard garden of Frida Kahlo’s house, known as Casa Azul by way of the New York Botanical Garden’s new exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. In part one of my romp through Frida’s garden we are given a glimpse at the elemental bliss contained here through a special collection of heirloom jewelry pieces by KC Sukamto. Drawing inspiration from Frida’s life and work KC’s intricately detailed and refined yet wildly exotic pieces contain the unique stylistic hybrid of Frida’s iconic body of work. Each piece is a brilliant reflection of Frida’s symbolically rich garden through stone selection, color and form. Columbian emeralds evoke the lush greens and majestic cactuses, pink sapphires and rubies the fuchsia blossoms, the opal speaks to the water moments and the onyx the black lagoon. The attention to detail is exquisite, prongs holding the Australian opal are spiked mimicking the succulents and the tear shaped amethyst evoke the Elephant-Ear leaves. Imbued in the designs is the long tradition of nature used both symbolically and allegorically throughout art history. The culmination is a magical mix of cultures, aesthetics and ideas, rare treasures that contain the source of inspiration art and life.

All jewelry: KC Sukamto Magdalena Collection, Madia Earrings, Flora Ring, Majeste Ring, Espine Ring, Madia Bracelet, Vika Gazinskaya flouncy top, Face Stockholm lipstick in Matte Sangria, Jin Soon nail polish in Pop Orange

New York Botanical Garden, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life

Hair Collage by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Samantha Jozic, Photographs by Jason Gringler

Rainbow Daydream

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The studio of Greg Allen-Müller is pristine, beaming white down to every last surface including the tool handles. These surrounds serve as a vehicle to heighten the viewing experience of a striking new body of work. Allen-Müller is as meticulous with his execution as he is with his space. While in earlier works his process of incorporating aluminum was done entirely by hand, one in which is laborious involving the welding of raw metal followed by finishing/polishing/painting, here he has evolved past the tedium through the use of aluminum architectural extrusions. A commentary on the overwhelming outsourcing of labor rampant in the current art world climate, a way to work faster and perhaps relinquish control or not. The perfection of premeditated control, the smooth stylized framework is offset by an explosion of expression, full spectrum color which allows the work to transcend itself. Dan Flavin comes to mind in the way that Allen-Müller’s work seems to have a divine connection with the architecture of a space, also in the sense that full spectrum color inherently is light. Inhabiting this psychological mash up with a sharp bob and slice of mini skirt all for one in a psychedelic RGB color index by Ashish. I am a supershiny creature next to Allen-Müller’s creation fulfilled by perfectionism and emblazoned by color as life.

Ashish rainbow sequined racerback, Ashish sequined mini skirt, Turquoise Wig, Alexander Wang sandals

Greg Allen-Müller, Studio

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Jessica Sanner, Photographs by Tylor Hou

Mother Nature

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As I knew a very special someone would be joining me on this shoot I searched to find the perfect installation in which to capture the pure and delicate nature of a relationship between mother and daughter. My first instinct was to find a pristine gallery environment with the work of an iconic artist to express how profound my mother’s encouragement and faith in me has formed the person I’ve become. As it turns we were meant to end up here within the walls of Thomas Houseago’s Masks (Pentagon) at Rockefeller Center. A piece that held the strength and vulnerability to translate the dynamic between my ginger haired mother and myself. Designed specifically for this space, together the five monumental faces create a temple like haven within the clamorous cityscape, bringing the magical intimacy of the studio into the public eye. The cracked plaster expressions hold evidence of the artist’s hand and the interior rebar bones allude to his process. Similarly ambitious and romantic in process are these two matching looks by a designer I adore, Simone Rocha. Tactile pieces that beg a closer look and make you feel the specialness held in a piece, a place, a person.

Simone Rocha embroidered red floral dress, Simone Rocha embroidered white floral dress, Mizuki pearl cuffs, Mizuki pearl earrings, Miu Miu patent-leather platform mules

Thomas Houseago, Masks (Pentagon)

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Jessica Sanner, Photographs by Jason Gringler

Forward Reflection

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The studio of Jason Gringler is somewhat of a haven, with lofty 14 ft ceilings and the afternoon light streaming through the industrial gridded windows one could not imagine a more perfect space to reflect the artist and his work. Upon seeing in person it is evident that these works are as deep and layered as his intention. Composed of acrylic glass, shattered glass, epoxy, silicone, caulking, spray enamel, vinyl, steel, paint and aluminum tape, Jason references the history and trajectory of painting while avoiding its material associations. What remains is a distinct body of work that elegantly straddles the line between painting and sculpture, embedded with chance yet laden with meticulous precision. Bias aside, Jason’s work is my idealistic art, lines are blurred between the work and the architecture, and the experience within any given moment in time. A fresh encounter within a timeless framework, a practice that makes you evaluate your own methods and deeply admire those that Jason has created for himself. Calling for a pared down look with a bite of color and a hint of material drama, I brought in one of my favorite forms, the overall. This pair by Beckley is the perfect fresh, done in white leather and topped with the choker of all chokers by Zana Bayne, all amidst a layered allure that can not only be seen but felt.

Beckley white leather overalls, J.Crew cashmere boyfriend sweater, Zana Bayne choker collar, J.Crew elsie pumps, Jin Soon nail polish in Charme

Jason Gringler, Studio

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Jessica Sanner, Photographs by Jason Gringler

Action Threads

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Swedish-Chilean artist Anton Alvarez has set up camp in the intimate Salon 94 Freemans space transforming it into his studio and injecting it with the kind of action you want to be a part of. It’s hard to categorize Alvarez’s work exactly since it straddles so many different disciplines from furniture, sculpture, painting to installation. One thing it’s not is static; Alvarez’s art practice is as dynamic as it is colorful, and happens to be very interesting to watch.

When you enter the brightly lit Freeman space you’ll find yourself in a realm that is both public and private. The gallery assistants are present behind the desk maintaining the space as gallery, but beyond the office area lies the order and chaos of a private studio. The floor is covered in brown craft paper and splattered with paint which has been tracked through the temporary studio to different key locations that hold supplies and work stations. The multi-hued tracks lead you to a colorful cluster of thread spools stacked against a wall, an industrial work table pushed up against another wall, and a chop saw that sits in close proximity to the raw lumber which is leaning neatly in a corner. In the center of the room is a strange yet compelling object called The Thread-Wrapping Machine which looks like a fusion between a huge easel and a clunky spinning wheel and appears to be the main event. If you’re lucky Alvarez and his assistant will be working, using his machine to bind pieces of wood, plastic or metal with colorful thread and pigmented glue, transforming raw materials into beautiful structures that are simultaneously paintings, sculptures and furniture.

The Thread-Wrapping Machine spins faster than the eye can perceive and casts a web of different colored threads around the raw materials while making a loud whizzing noise. This process of binding things together seems a little magical yet threatening in all the right ways, and without question, dazzling. Enchanted by the combination of disciplines present here, I threw Anton some tie dye and madras plaid and we sat down for a chat.

PD: With your education you’ve pretty much covered the full spectrum between art and design. You started with cabinetmaking, moved on to interior architecture and furniture design, and then to design at the Royal College of Art. We often regard these disciplines as separate from one another. Is there a distinction between art, design and architecture for you, or is it all part of the same visual language?

AA: At the time for me, on my path of education, I didn’t really know how it would proceed but now I look back and see each step as very much a continuation. Starting with cabinetmaking I was learning how to work with timber and the processes of how to turn it into complex construction but then very much relating to a tradition and a craft that has been around for hundreds of years. Then to interior architecture and furniture design which could be seen as a way to break free from this traditional way of working. Then I studied design at the Royal College of Art which was less pure design orientated and more of an art education, where I had to understand my position in the world of design and art and try to create my own way of working. This project is a collection of all those things.

PD: You’ve spent a lot of time investigating different kinds of systems and processes for production. What compelled you to invent new ways of making things? When did you come up with the idea for the The Thread-Wrapping Machine?

AA: I think I always had this interest in creating some sort of independence. Also, when I was doing my masters I never intended to be someone who would be employed by a company working for somebody, I wanted to create my own practice in some way. I always had in my mind that I wanted to be free to do what I wanted in my own world. It was as I was thinking those things that this project started to take shape. When it started I didn’t know how it would end, but then it began to go in a direction that I liked, I was starting to create my own tool and my own technique and I could imagine it would give me that freedom.

It was in 2010 that I started working on this project and then in 2012 the machine itself was finished and I started spinning. So it was around two years for the development of this technique.

PD: The Thread-Wrapping Machine produces a wide variety of beautiful objects, but it is a very compelling object itself. Do you think of the machine as a sculpture? Will you display it along with the objects produced at Salon 94 during the final week of the exhibition?

AA: I’m thinking I might not display it. These objects are very much linked to this tool but also when they leave here and go to various places they will exist without the machine. In terms of the machine in regards to how it is constructed and how it looks I spent some time making decisions on how to place the screws, at what angles, at what kind of radius, and all of that which I kind of enjoyed. The machine is well calculated and carefully designed but maybe the outcome of what it created is the complete opposite. I enjoy doing both.

PD: When did you realize that there was a performative aspect to making this work? Has publicly producing your work changed your process, ideas or outcome in anyway?

AA: I quite quickly understood that there was a performative aspect in this project because it was a machine that has almost this scale of a human being and I’m interacting with another person, the person helping me. We are two people doing something together and it is like a little show when that happens. Also because this is a new way of working people might find it interesting to actually see and become curious about how its made. Then the last week I will take the machine away and people can maybe wonder. I think the objects themselves have a performative aspect as this could be seen as a snapshot in time and then you imagine it being stripped away.

PD: You join a mix of wood, plastic, metal, paint and other materials together by thread, and in the case of this exhibition is it true that you are accepting materials brought in by viewers as well?

AA: There haven’t been so many people passing by with materials but someone brought a hockey stick which was quite nice and another person brought in some recycled wood.

PD: To what extent is the work preconceived and to what extent is it intuitive?

AA: I have a plan when I start, the colors are determined and I put them in the machine but then most of the time I make changes along the way. I change the colors of the threads and also like this piece that looks like an antenna, it started off as something else and it’s been kind of half made for a couple of days and then today we finished. Sometimes I feel like something would be better than what I intended in the beginning. Also, I don’t have full control over this process, so then maybe something will go wrong and then that mistake was actually a success.

PD: Some articles that discuss your recent work refer to The Thread-Wrapping Machine as futuristic, which I can understand, but to me there is also something strangely dangerous and medieval looking about it, especially when it’s in motion. Has anyone ever been caught in the web of the machine or accidentally been wrapped into one of your sculptures?

AA: Sometimes the threads tension can be very stiff and then it can hurt a little bit when you get to your fingers. Once a friend came over to the studio and we did a handshake through the machine on either side and then the threads were wrapping the hands together and then I had to climb through the machine and we were joined.

PD: What range of scale are you able to explore with this technology? Are you interested in pushing it further?

AA: I’m very interested in that. This technique I first applied to furniture to test it and see if it was strong enough in some way. From the very beginning though the objects were quite abstract when I didn’t know much about the tool and what it could be for. So then I saw the potential out of it and I began to create furniture, given my background in furniture design and cabinet making I guess it was an obvious choice for me to apply it there. But now with this exhibition actually I’m letting more abstract objects come through, like the ones on the walls that don’t yet have a defined function or purpose as these stools do. It’s a very useful thing to help me to understand the process, to let myself do these objects where I’m not sure what they are. Like this long stick here, the object itself I think is quite successful but also it will help me to enrich my knowledge. I also have a parallel path to this project which is to expand it more and create architecture, which the arch is part of that research.

PD: What’s next for you?

AA: I have made another version of the machine which is more suitable for the architectural part of this project. Here mostly we move the objects through the machine, so the weight of the object is the limitation. When the pieces are scaled up and become something larger than we can lift then the machine has to move. In the case of the arch, the machine was moving and the arch was static in the room. The other version of the machine was held on a long arm so that it could actually move up in the air. That machine was good in many ways but not a complete success, so it has to be remade at some point to be more flexible and more adjustable and when that machine is finished I can pursue even further the architectural aspects of this project.

PD: Lastly, I have to ask you if you have any favorite fashion designers…

AA: I like Y3 very much, they’re very cool.

Gitman Brothers for Opening Ceremony rainbow spiral shirt, Stella McCartney wide leg pants

Salon 94 Freemans, Anton Alvarez, WRAPSODY

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Photographs by Tylor Hou

Exquisite Details

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Always one to find meaning in the details, I am bewitched by Alex Da Corte’s Die Hexe at Luxembourg & Dayan. With every surface exquisitely considered, I am reminded in a flash of the spaces that have had a long lasting effect on me. Da Corte satisfies the desire to be transported through a medley of experiences that are both familiar and completely foreign, grabbing on to something known and then turning it on its head and giving it a spin, a cause to reconsider. Honing in on Da Corte’s remarkable ability to capture an aesthetic moment, in my progression I attempt to add another layer of detail. From grandmothers house in a retro t-strap Dolce & Gabbana gingham to a dominatrix den in Stella McCartney’s metallic magenta I go. I pass through a 70’s supermarket in a jolt of kaleidoscopic Valentino sandals, finding myself in a mint green house of mirrors with a quirky pair of Sophia Webster sandals marked with festive flourishes. A bittersweet end to my unforgettably twisted arthouse shoe fantasy.

Shoes clockwise from top left: Stella McCartney metallic magenta pumps, Sophia Webster printed wedge sandal, Valentino rainbow plexi-heel sandal, Dolce & Gabbana gingham t-bar pumps

Luxembourg & Dayan, Alex Da Corte, Die Hexe

Photographs by Robert/Michael

What Dreams May Come

My obsession runs deep for Alex Da Corte’s environmental masterpiece Die Hexe at Luxembourg & Dayan. Here he has created an architectural intervention of dizzying detail which spans through three-stories setting five immersive scenes. The circular plot unfolds like a movie oscillating between horror and bliss conveying a feeling of something hauntingly elusive. Having visited the installation several times, once with an extended stay, I was taken each time by a different experience. The first was visual overload, my eyes popped with glowing peach gingham wallpaper, plush purple carpet, seafoam velvet walls and patterned linoleum. Then there were the scents ranging from warm apple spiced nostalgia to the sterile minty rebirth of Listerine. What remained were the objects that surpassed their own aura, some pieces from Da Corte’s own spirit artist’s such as Robert Gober and Mike Kelley others from the neighborhood bodega. All swirled into a seductive realm of coexistence, an addictive cycle of emotions reminiscent of the time I was entranced by this Mike Kelley Video at MOCA. Clicking my way through there is no place like Da Corte’s Kansas.

Shoes in order of appearance: Opening Ceremony blush pink grunge platform sandal, Stella McCartney metallic magenta pumps, Valentino rainbow plexi-heel sandal, Dolce & Gabbana gingham t-bar pumps, Sophia Webster printed wedge sandal, Derek Lam denim dress, Jin Soon nail polish in Charme

Luxembourg & Dayan, Alex Da Corte, Die Hexe

Hair by Cosma De Marinis, Makeup by Jessica Sanner, Video by Robert/Michael