Road Trip by David Yarrow
The creative set at Bombay Beach might be charting the course.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANYA KAATS
We were somewhere near H Avenue, climbing the berm that separates the tiny town of Bombay Beach from the sick and shrinking Salton Sea, when an aria pierced the gale-force wind and stopped us in place.
The conditions were cold, dark, and gusty. Yet the voice of Kate Feld, a soprano from L.A., carried all the way from the Bombay Beach Opera House, an upcycled dwelling on E Avenue with a bright-blue façade that opens to audiences gathered in the front yard and on the street. She gave us a brief, beautiful moment in the unforgiving elements but had finished performing by the time we walked there.
On the empty adjacent lot, a hand-painted sign for the Bombay Beach Botanical Garden led us to a larger-than-life-size ceramic flower “skeleton” created by L.A. artist Yassi Mazandi. A block away, at the Hermitage Museum, another L.A.-based artist, Greg Haberny, mounted an exhibition titled Why Do I Destroy Everything I Love? And across the street, The Monster That Challenged the World was screening at the Bombay Beach Drive-In, a graveyard of gutted autos facing forward and rotting like the tilapia on the nearby shore.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH DEREMER
Yassi Mazandi created the ceramic flower “skeleton” for the Bombay Beach Botanical Garden.
For a town widely written off as a post-apocalyptic murk, this place has a spirited community of artists, musicians, philosophers, and at least one polyamorous eccentric. They’re buying up the dilapidated houses and transforming them into cultural attractions for the 300 or so people who live here and many more who visit.
Each spring they host the Bombay Beach Biennale — although they never publicly announce the dates. It’s a carnival of the arts for locals, participants, and a measured number of friends, family, and art-world insiders. The tongue-in-cheek name skewers art biennials like the Whitney in New York and others in Venice and São Paulo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TAO RUSPOLI
Musicians and merrymakers transform the neighborhood.
“Bombay Beach Biennale has wonderful alliteration and absurdity to it,” says Tao Ruspoli, a homeowner and one of the event’s founders. “But it’s not a joke. By playing with these sacred concepts of what constitutes art or a festival, by being irreverent, we honor them both. It’s a playful engagement with a very serious undercurrent.”
At the Bombay Beach Biennale, we’d make do without the glossy catalog, vernissage, and sponsored amenities.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AMANDA VANDENBERG
Abandoning all subtlety, Olivia Steele installed her neon sculpture, Save Me, directly on the water for the Bombay Beach Biennale weekend.
The Salton Sea formed in 1905 when engineers trying to increase the flow of water from the Colorado River lost control and overwhelmed irrigation canals for 18 months. The deluge filled the dry ancient lakebed known as the Salton Sink and created California’s largest lake, 35 miles long and 15 miles wide.
It’s easy to imagine the eastern shoreline, with its picturesque backdrop of the far Santa Rosas, lined with million-dollar homes, yacht clubs, exclusive cabanas, and bustling cantinas.
Someone had this vision when Bombay Beach was incorporated in 1929, and some version of it became reality, at least for a short time, in the 1950s and ’60s. Tourists in trailers and motorhomes would travel 170 miles from L.A. to enjoy boat races, water skiing, and sport fishing and to see celebrities such as Sonny Bono, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and the Marx Brothers.
But as the salinity of the water increased, the sea lost its sparkle, and visitation plummeted. The final blow came from a pair of tropical storms, in 1976 and ’77. They washed away the Bombay Beach marina and bars like Luck of the Irish and Barco’s and filled the eight- by-five-block town — the lowest community in the United States, at 223 feet below sea level — like a bathtub.
Forty years later, trailers and houses along the shore continue decaying in the mud. The the berm where we stood, listening to Feld sing her aria, protects the remaining houses.
The town still has a couple of places to get a burger and a beer — Ski Inn and American Legion Post 801 — as well as a tiny market. But it has no gas station, and the closest supermarket is 40 minutes away. Visitors these days tend to be photographers, filmmakers, and plein air painters who come to document the ruins.
“So many things are fascinating and enchanting about Bombay Beach,” says Randy Polumbo, who transformed one of the houses into a “psychedelic human terrarium” called Angler Grove. “The forgotten, forlorn, bedraggled paradise; the tragic and fraught ecology; the tiny, dense community of rugged and colorful individuals who live here; the beautiful light and desert landscape; the incredible dawns and sunsets; and the defiant hope and creative spirit of both the humans and animals that still find a way to make some use of a fouled artificial waterway.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANYA KAATS
The Toy House by Kenny Scharf is a “permanent” installation.
The sea is failing because it has no outlet, and over the years its sources of fresh water have been either cut off or diverted. It probably would have evaporated by now if not for agricultural runoff from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. As the sea shrinks, the high concentration of salt and minerals makes the water unlivable. Only the algae-eating tilapia remain. Fish die-offs leave little food for migrating birds. And when the wind blows just right, a wretched foulness, infused with tiny, toxic particulates, wafts through the manicured resort communities of the Coachella Valley.
As more of the Salton Sea shoreline becomes exposed, the potential for alkaline dust clouds to blow into the valley presents not only an environmental health crisis but an existential threat to tourism, the lifeblood of the region’s economy.
This is where the artists come in.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TAO RUSPOLI
Giancarlo Neri’s Moontruck fooled some people into thinking it was the actual moon.
On our way into Stefanie Schneider’s exhibition of photographs, appropriately shot on expired and unstable Polaroid film, we found Ruspoli in his element, reveling on a rough edge of civilization. The Joshua Tree–based filmmaker and philosophy addict has been coming to Bombay Beach since 2007, the year he read Kim Stringfellow’s book Greetings From the Salton Sea.
“I was enthralled with this place. When I got divorced in 2011, the first thing I did was buy a house in Bombay Beach,” says Ruspoli, who incidentally released the feature film Monogamish last year.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH DEREMER
Steve Shigley’s Tesseract offered a visual spectacle.
As his visits grew more frequent, he began to notice the others. “Every time I’d go, I’d see people making videos, taking pictures. Nobody spent the night. They would come and shoot fashion, the beach. And there was nothing in the town to celebrate all the creativity that happens here.”
One of his first Bombay Beach houseguests was L.A. hotelier Stefan Ashkenazy, a friend since they were in the seventh grade. Four years ago, Ashkenazy started a camp at Burning Man where he hosted a black-tie dinner for 100 people, including Susan Sarandon, who Ruspoli recalls had a vial of Timothy Leary’s ashes and put a little in everyone’s drink.
“Stefan is like the ring leader, unapologetic in the extreme- ness of his vision,” says Ruspoli, who in 2015 invited Ashkenazy, owner of West Hollywood’s Petit Ermitage, to Bombay Beach for Thanksgiving dinner, along with Johnson & Johnson heiress Lily Johnson White.
“There was a symbiosis between the three of us,” Ruspoli says. A biennial sounded like a wildly creative way to bring attention to the Salton Sea and a measure of culture to a deprived community. “People are hungry for originality and experiences. What would be more interesting and more surreal than bringing art, opera, ballet, and a philosophy conference to Bombay Beach?”
In April 2016 they hosted the first Bombay Beach Biennale. The theme was “Decay,” particularly our attraction to it. The following year it was “The Way the Future Used to Be.” This year was “God’s Silence.”
Ashkenazy collaborated with artists and designers to transform houses and empty lots into the opera house, drive-in theater, Hermitage Museum, Bombay Beach Estates, and The Bombay Beach Beach Club — venues for exhibitions, interventions, performances, and parties.
“The amazing thing is the caliber of people we draw,” Ruspoli says, citing Aileen Getty, who gave a grant; San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Maria Kochetkova, who performed at the Bombay Beach Opera House; L.A. muralist Kenny Scharf, who created the Toy House and painted The Banned Book Library; and a roster of top- tier philosophy professors.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANYA KAATS
Revelers in offbeat outfits, playing offbeat music, marched in the biennial parade.
Tickets to this year’s biennial were limited to 500, but the wind forced the registration table from the parking area to the Ski Inn, so many more visitors slipped in without being counted.
“We’re trying to make this for the locals first and for the artists and their close friends,” Ruspoli says. “We don’t have the infrastructure for a mass audience.”
The free-flowing biennial has a loose schedule, with scores of culture-loving merrymakers wandering the neighborhood from morning to night. The events and installations unfold on the beach and at many of the residences, including Danielle Aykroyd’s place, which she calls Pythia, at Third Street and F.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEAN KARVELIS
Randy Polubmo’s Angler Grove.
The daughter of actor Dan Aykroyd is a poet and musician who performs as Vera Sola. During the biennial, she played at the Ski Inn and The Bombay Beach Institute of Particle Physics, Metaphysics, and International Relations.
Ruspoli masterminded the institute and runs its program of performances and lectures around the biennial theme. Jessie Ann Owens, distinguished professor emeritus of music at University of California, Davis, delivered a talk about “God’s Silence in Bach’s Matthew Passion,” and a half-dozen philosophy professors stirred lively conversations about a few of life’s timely and perplexing questions.
“One of my big points was the conception of justice in the form of punishment,” says Christia Mercer, a Columbia University philosophy professor and activist who also teaches in prison. She invoked St. Thomas, who had suggested that people in heaven revel in the eternal suffering of the damned, for they have sinned. “I’m interested in what people say about life and how they live life. I hope some of the things I said resonate with people.”
Mercer and Oxford professor Mark Wrathall proved that philosophical ideas, presented interactively, grip and transform people like the visual arts, music, and dance. That’s no easy feat.
Polumbo’s trippy Angler Grove, on H Avenue between Third and Fourth streets, is an adult funhouse with a mirrored exterior and large circular window framing a disco ball and an assortment of colorful, blown-glass adornments that look like sex toys. Its soul, we’d learn, runs much deeper than our first impression.
“Reflective surfaces are the ‘mirror’ Narcissus stared into, the window into the soul of introspection, or better yet, the unconscious,” says Polumbo, an artist and master builder who works in New York and Joshua Tree. “I like people making their own experience and connections, but their behavior is most certainly directed, augmented, maybe catalyzed by time in the structure. Walking out, folks are often stirred up, thinking or feeling hard about something. Being present is a gift art and music easily inspire in humans, and encouraging people to do this together in a fun, lighthearted way can inspire anything from whimsical connections to the kind of healing I expect occurs when groups of monks chant.”
Angler Grove, like the institute, drive-in, and several other attractions, is a “gift to the town,” a permanent installation that visitors access by asking the bartender at the Ski Inn.
Many artists installed their work on the beach, on or near E Avenue. The two-story-tall Tesseract, a four-dimensional steel and light sculpture by Steve Shigley of Yucca Valley, was one of the most photographed pieces. Three adjacent installations — Bombay Beach Metro by Dave Corcoran and Ruspoli, Salty by Ray Ewing and Adrian Pijoan, and El Barco de la Muerte (The Boat of the Dead) by Sean Guerrero — lead to the Bombay Beach Beach Club, a music venue with yellow-Speedo-clad bartenders and loungers facing the sea.
Nothing curbs progress at the Salton Sea more than the politics surrounding it.
In 2003 the Imperial Irrigation District agreed to transfer a massive amount of water to San Diego County. The deal called for mitigation water at the sea through 2017 and a restoration plan to abate the salinity and its toxic aftermath. When the California Natural Resource Agency delivered that plan four years later, its $9 billion price tag was a nonstarter for lawmakers.
In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown created the Salton Sea Task Force, which came up with a 10-year, $383 million plan for habitat restoration in areas where migrating birds once proliferated and for dust suppression on up to 25,000 acres of crusty playa. But little has happened since then.
“We have a plan, we have money, there is additional money lined up, and we have a constituency, myself included, that is running out of patience,” Assembly member Eduardo Garcia said during a May oversight hearing where he pressed for action. “Now we need to move forward and execute mitigation efforts in a timely manner to improve air quality and safeguard human health, as well as the ecological and economic issues surrounding the sea.”
Some experts say the only way to save the sea is to bring in more water, either from the Colorado River, the Gulf of California, or the Pacific Ocean. But Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, whose district includes the Coachella Valley, has proposed the $400 million North Lake Vision, calling for a barrier wall to preserve the northern shoreline. A new finance district would issue project bonds to be repaid through hotel, property, and sales taxes.
Meanwhile, artists like Berlin-based Olivia Steele, who installed the neon-light piece Save Medirectly on the water, hope to draw attention to the cause as it gains urgency. Ruspoli agrees. “[The biennial] is about how the arts can affect meaningful change and jolt people out of complacency,” he says.
He has lived in Venice Beach and knows the cycle of artists discovering a place, being drawn to its “freedom and anarchy,” and eventually watching gentrification and displacement set in.
“There’s always this risk that what follows spoils it,” Ruspoli says. “In Bombay Beach, that seems like such an obscure possibility. But the desert does have this feeling right now of being the next frontier for artists: It has its original landscape, it’s still affordable to artists, and there’s opportunity to engage meaningfully with the geography, weather, people, and history. But that’s a double-edge sword.”
Back on the berm, Giancarlo Neri’s sculpture Moontruck fools the people who look at it from the neighborhood side, where it appears to be the actual moons rising. But Neri himself was nowhere in sight.
Adam Freeland, the English DJ, musician, record producer, and newly minted High Desert resident, had enlisted Neri for the biennial, but authorities at LAX turned away the Italian artist because of a 1995 marijuana arrest in New York City.
“His non-arrival became the premise of this other work of art,” Freeland says, referring to stickers placed around town with the words “Where’s Neri?” The artist wrote an essay about his troubles in New York and at LAX that biennial visitors could read at the institute.
The stickers add a layer to the Bombay Beach narrative and symbolize the far-reaching interest in the Salton Sea. “I would like to see the biennial grow organically,” Ruspoli says. “I’d like to see the town become a place of intellectual discourse — de-emphasize the weekend and go more toward screenings at the drive-in, maybe a film fest, exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum, and shows at the opera house.
“Opera singers should wear a performance at Bombay Beach as a badge of honor.”
Likewise, Ashkenazy envisions black-tie movie premieres at the drive-in, but his most dramatic addition to the town will be The Last Resort, a five-room (“maybe more”) hotel built with shipping containers that “play with guests in a way you couldn’t in any other environment,” Ashkenazy says. “My big joy in life is the opportunity to guide everyone’s senses and their emotions with fragrance and textures.”
Sonny Bono was the last great advocate for the sea, and no public figure has stepped forward to replace him. Now artists want to fill that void.
“Because of the art, people are talking about a place that was long forgotten,” says Mazandi, who created the ceramic flower skeleton.
The question now is, who’s listening?
30 JUIN 2018
Après avoir travaillé sur les marchés Financiers Européens pendant 10 ans puis dans les médias (IT), j’ai décidé de réaliser ce que j’avais vraiment envie de faire : de la photographie ; avec des questions simples derrière mes images : de la difficulté d’être une femme, de la tyrannie des religions, de la nécessité de rire et d’embellir nos vies…et mille autres sujets que je prends plaisir à triturer quotidiennement.
Je me sers pour cela d’emblèmes universels tels que Barbie, des icônes du cinéma ou des podiums. Ce sont des sources d’inspiration et de réflexions inépuisables, avec lesquelles j’aime aussi jouer. Derrière les symboles, il y a la force de l’apparence, l’exigence personnelle, le rêve communiqué, l’usine du monde. Une formidable matière dont mon travail se nourrit.
J’admire les femmes, autant que j’aime les hommes. Mon travail n’est pas un combat, ni une guerre des sexes. C’est une ode à la féminité. A l’amour. C’est une expression de la nécessité de trouver des équilibres masculins-féminins. Nous sommes des « compléments d’âmes », à valeur égale. Je souhaiterais que chaque femme puisse se reconnaitre dans mes photos. Peu importe les croyances, les religions. Pour moi, nous sommes tous détenteurs de « Sweet littles lies », (Titre de mon dernier livre paru chez CDP Edition, en Avril 2018). Secrets, plaisirs interdits ou clandestins, mystères, font partie du désir, de la séduction, des rencontres, de la vie…
Je me nourris de tout. Mes influences sont éparses et nombreuses. Livres, films, œuvres d’artistes, articles, études… L’ultra sensualité magnétique d’Helmut Newton me bouleverse. Certaines photos d’Oliviero Toscani m’ont permis d’oser. Ellen von Unwerth, Bettina Rheims, David Lachapelle, Pierre & Gilles m’ont également encouragé lorsqu’il s’est agi de me lancer.
Je souhaite être accessible et communiquer juste un peu d’humour et de beauté, je me méfie de ce qui est incompréhensible, ésotérique, cabalistique et d’une façon générale des artistes maudits qui dissimulent leur manque d’inspiration derrière un discours flou.
Los Angeles and Las Vegas share a kinship that goes beyond the obvious. Sure, Vegas is frequented by Angelenos for family vacays and wild bachelor parties, and the music festival circuit (EDC, Punk Rock Bowling, Viva Las Vegas — all of which are thrown by SoCal-based promoters) beckons Angelenos on a regular basis. But right now, the very fabric of Vegas is in many ways being embellished, if not shaped, by L.A. figures on a daily basis. Tal Cooperman is one such figure bringing L.A. flavor to L.V. The Palms Hotel & Casino just unveiled new eateries, bars and clubs and a decidedly new pop and street art–driven aesthetic during EDC weekend, and Cooperman’s role as creative director is central to the makeover, which he promises will entail much more in the next year. L.A. Weekly sat down with the Israel-born, Agoura Hills–bred visionary inside the Palm’s newest hot spot, the Damien Hirst–designed Unknown Bar, to talk about his influence on street art and streetwear, music, hospitality, the City of Angels, the City of Sin and what he’s doing to make these cultures collide.
“I got into graffiti when I was 13 years old,” says Cooperman, a life-long skateboarder, at the grand unveiling of Unknown, which features Hirst’s famous dot designs and a striking segmented shark installation from the artist’s “Natural History” series. ‘I had sketchbooks and felt very much connected to that world. My aunt, who is an artist, took me to the Pavillion [a graffiti yard in Venice, CA. recently replicated in the ‘Beyond the Streets’ art show] and it was the first time I ever saw good graffiti. Fast-forward to 16 years old, I started interning for a company called Gypsies and Thieves based in downtown L.A. The crew I idolized were the guys doing the graphic design.”
Cooperman helped GAT’s Luis Antonio in any way he could, from design input to setting up booths for trade shows, but it was his people skills and friendships that ultimately proved most valuable. He got his best longtime pal involved in GAT, too — Aaron Levant would go on to found the Agenda Trade Show and later, ComplexCon. After GAT, Cooperman moved to San Diego to work for Tribal Streetwear; he says it was there that he started to discover the power of product placement, developing his own sort of organic marketing via friends in bands and word-of-mouth on artists who’d be blowing up. He sent boxes of product to up-and-comers, including Linkin Park, who hit the charts and touring circuit hard soon after, wearing Tribal’s products and introducing Cooperman to other bands to whom he would, in turn, give merch. In a fun yet focused way, Cooperman was using musicians as influencers early on, but he was doing it without an official title and as more of a stylist. Bands such as My Chemical Romance, Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold all wore Cooperman-approved brands onstage and in photo shoots.
The Damien Hirst–designed Unknown BarThe Palms Casino
“These bands were like my family,” he recalls. “I was touring the world with them, having a great time, but literally making zero dollars. I didn’t care. All these guys were coming to my house and they knew my dad. Platinum record plaques started coming to my house. I was happy.”
But soon, Cooperman’s old pal Levant sought to put his boy’s skills to work in a very targeted way: facilitating meetings that would change the face of action sports. After meetings with Nike and Hurley (which Nike purchased), a plan was made to put the leading sportswear tradeshow, ASR, out of business. Levant moved his Agenda tradeshow to Orange County and the pair relocated there. After Hurley and Nike moved to Agenda, pretty much everyone else followed suit
Soon after, Cooperman and Levant started a new company with Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, called DCMA. The Madden brothers happened to be dating Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie at the time, and the exposure the brand received via paparazzi pics took what Cooperman was already doing with product placement to a whole new level, with the young Hollywood crowd — including Brody Jenner and the cast of MTV’s The Hills — basically providing free advertising. Cooperman’s high-profile friendships and relationships with innovative companies were a precursor to today’s social media and swag culture, in which brand campaigns are often driven by courting celebrities and influencers.
Cooperman’s next venture was RESQWATER, a hangover-curing beverage; after some success with that product, his partner asked him to move out to Vegas to expand the brand. That was almost five years ago. RESQWATER grew and ended up in every hotel in Vegas, but the mover and shaker was bored.
Cooperman had worked with L.A. clubs and promoters in the past, but it wasn’t until Brian Affronti from Drai’s nightclub asked him to come on as creative director and director of marketing that his gift for making connections began to shape the Vegas club scene in a notable way. “We definitely shook the cage in Vegas,” says Cooperman, who hired street artists to do the club flyers and posted high-quality recap videos from the club the same night on social media. After a very successful stint at Drai’s, he got a call to work with the Palms about a year ago.
Checking in with neon artist Olivia Steel and photographer Keegan GibbsThe Palms Casino
When the Palms first opened in 2001, it was the hippest hotel in Vegas. It had a presence on TV via The Real World: Las Vegas (the cast lived there); Inked, the A&E show about BMX-er/Pink beau Carey Hart’s tattoo shop; and even its own short-lived, Jenny McCarthy–hosted program called Party at the Palms on E!. Owner George Maloof was as high-profile as they come and the casino’s nightclub, Rain, VIP-friendly lounges Ghostbar and the Hef-approved Playboy Club, and music venue the Pearl made it a Hollywood hub in Vegas. The Palm was rivaled only by the Hard Rock when it came to attracting the younger Vegas visitor demo (21-39).
But the city changed a lot over the years and other casinos sought to snag this market, spending millions of dollars on bigger, bolder nightclubs, art-driven decor, celebrity chef–driven restaurants and slick advertising campaigns that touted the town’s escapist mystique (the tagline “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” became a badge of honor in some respects).
Compared with newer players such as the Cosmopolitan and bigger ones like the Wynn, the Palms lost a lot of its shine over the years, and the banks that took ownership after Maloof didn’t seem to care. The rocker crowd’s renewed interest in the “old” Vegas Strip probably didn’t help. Downtown’s renaissance touts new bars and clubs that transcend the touristy Fremont Street Experience (another L.A. figure, Big Daddy Carlos, and his venues Backstage Bar & Billiards and Fremont Country Club, had a lot to do with that shift).
When Station Casinos’ Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased the Palms two years ago, they planned a $620 million renovation to bring it back; getting Cooperman on board for creative was part of their plan. Phase one of the revamp was revealed a couple weekends ago at a preview party with the theme From Dust to Gold. Along with the unveiling of the Unknown Bar, we got to see the swanky new steakhouse Scotch 80 Prime, a cocktail lounge called Apex (J. Cole performed an intimate set for the opening), the redesigned Pearl concert theater and more. A new 29,000-square-foot nightclub and a 73,000-square-foot pool club (set to open next spring) were in construction mode.
Scott Hove’s bathroom stall installationThe Palms Casino
The Fertitta brothers were already big art collectors and the Hirst shark (titled The Unknown — Explored, Explained, Exploded) comes from their personal collection, as do many of the new pieces at the Palms. Cooperman spent the past year helping curate the property’s art collection, which includes work by icons such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Takashi Murakami alongside street fare from KAWS, Dustin Yellin, Eric Haze, Crash and L.A. fave Scott Hove (whose yummy caked-out bathroom stall outside of Scotch 80 Prime may be our favorite work).
Clearly, Cooperman’s street-art background and irreverent point of view is a huge influence on the Palms’ new vibe. “At first I was kind of everywhere. They brought me in for marketing. And then I started being in a bunch of meetings,” he says. “Everyone has art in their hotels, but our art is more for the younger generation, for younger people who know the artists.”
Cooperman’s old crew in L.A., known as the Seventh Letter, played a part in his ability to bring street art to Sin City, he emphasizes. “Casey Eklips, the founder, has been like a father to me and my brother,” he says. “So I kind of have a Rolodex to call any street artist on the planet, and they’ll pick up the phone because Casey helped raise me.”
Though the art is meant to be enjoyed and to create atmosphere, Cooperman acknowledges that “self-marketing” is part of the plan, too. “We have 800-plus rooms. In Vegas every hotel has about 3,000 rooms and we don’t want to have that. I was thinking about how to get the word out,” says the guy basically made an entire career of getting the word out. “I was thinking about the new generation of influencers,” he adds. “And I think that as much as we hate saying the word 'Instagrammable’ and a lot of us hate social media, I love it. I stayed hip to it and Instagram has done a beautiful job — it’s going to be around for a very long time. So my goal with these moments that we’re creating was to have people speak about our hotel.”
Indeed, much of the Palms’ art seems selfie-ready, providing colorful backgrounds for photo-sharing that recall L.A.’s pop-up experiences such as Happy Place. The cloudscape and “Wish You Were Here” neon work behind the front desk is a perfect example. It features a collaborative piece by L.A. artist Keegan Gibbs and Berlin-based American light artist Olivia Steele.
Revolving street and pop art, new restaurants (NYC’s popular Vandals is on the way, as is a Bobby Flay concept) and big music “gets” with booking partner Live Nation (L.A.-based Blink-182 are in the midst of their first residency at Pearl and the venue will host Janelle Monáe on June 26, Alice Cooper in August and Korn and Zac Brown Band in September). The next phase at Palms will feature a new pool being constructed as we speak, which Cooperman promises will be the most distinctive day club Vegas has ever seen. And more big — and little — things are in the works.
“John Gray [Palms’ president] and I and our team, we’re creating a new brand here, a real brand. Everything from the napkins to the snacks to intimacy kits in the rooms designed by street-art duo DabsMyla. We’re involved in every little detail,” Cooperman enthuses. “We want to change it up here all the time. The art is going to change, too. It’ll be nonstop. This bar [Unknown] will be the heartbeat of the property and stay like this for a very long time, but everything else around the property is going to evolve and revolve. I want people to come here and say, 'holy shit!’ I want people to leave this place and be like, 'I cannot wait to see what’s next for the Palms. I cannot wait to see what they’re going to come up with.’”
The photographer, 79, on the cultural watershed of the 60s, turning down Marilyn Monroe and how all the proper stars have gone.
I was a war baby, literally brought up in an air-raid shelter. The Nazis bombed Heston airfield [near Heathrow] at the bottom of our road every night. I’m lucky I’m here at all.
Mum never lived long enough to see my success. That’s a sadness. She wouldn’t have believed it. She hero-worshipped the kind of stars I’ve photographed and would take me to the stage doors after Saturday matinées to get autographs from the likes of Laurence Olivier.
One of my teachers singled me out to become a priest, along with another boy. After two years I was told I wouldn’t make it because I had too many questions and not enough belief. The other guy became a monsignor.
My reputation was bigger than the Beatles’ when I was sent to shoot them on my first newspaper. I was only 20, and the youngest photographer on Fleet Street. It was obvious that John was the one with the personality, so I put him in the front.
The cultural watershed of the 1960s gave working-class boys like me opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I wouldn’t have had a prayer of being successful in any other era.
There’s nobody around now I’d want to photograph. Amy Winehouse was the last person – real talent. All the proper stars have gone.
Frank Sinatra’s ex-wife Ava Gardner gave me a letter of introduction. And when Frank read it, he told everyone, “He’s with me.” And I was for the next 30 years. The first three weeks we barely spoke but he let me go everywhere with him. It taught me that a top photographer should “be there” but never get caught up in the lifestyle.
I turned down Marilyn Monroe. My girlfriend at the time was her publicist and she told me Marilyn took all her photographers to bed, so she wouldn’t let me work with her.
Getting romantically involved with people you shoot is a huge mistake. I did it once with my ex-wife, Faye Dunaway. I hated the whole circus after we married. I was becoming Mr Faye Dunaway.
Peter Sellers treated me like his psychiatrist. He’d ring me up at 2am and ask, “Why do all the women fall in love with you, Tel?” He could never understand why women wouldn’t fall in love with him. But I had no trick; I just bluffed it.
Being a Catholic boy I lost my nerve after taking those pictures of Raquel Welch on a giant crucifix, so I didn’t publish them for 30 years. The idea came to me after Raquel told me she thought she would have been crucified for wearing that revealing costume in One Million Years BC.
I turn 80 in July and I’ve no plans to mark it. For my 50th I went to dinner with Eric Clapton, Mickey Rourke and Bernie Ecclestone. Then I descended into a three-day depression. It was a proper midlife crisis. Now I’m at the stage of seeing all my mates die off. Michael Caine always says, “Tel, they’ve started bowling in our alley.” Fab way of putting it.
The Queen is the only person I’ve ever been nervous of photographing. I researched some horse-racing jokes to break the ice and thank God she laughed.
The perfectionist in me always left me thinking I could have taken a better shot. But now when I look at photos of all the icons I’ve shot – like Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill and Sinatra – the memories come flooding back and I think, “Yeah, I did all right.”
Vendredi 22 juin
Une photo d’Iris Mittenaere vendue 40.000 euros aux enchères
« I’m not a princess » écrit sur le torse, des objets en référence à sa vie sur sa robe… Jeudi, une photo de l’ancienne Miss Univers a été vendue aux enchères au profit de l’association Smile Train, qui opère gratuitement des enfants nés avec une fente labio-palatine dans les pays en voie de développement. Pour le photographe Philippe Shangti, c’était important de « réaliser un beau score. Avec 215 euros, on rend le sourire à un enfant pour toute sa vie », a-t-il déclaré à 20 Minutes. Les enchères sur son portrait d’ Iris Mittenaere ont atteint 40.000 euros, qui ont été entièrement remis à l’association, ce qui changera la vie de nombreux enfants.
Kim Kardashian de retour à Paris
Victime d’un braquage à Paris en octobre 2016, durant lequel elle s’était fait voler pour environ 9 millions d’euros de bijoux, Kim Kardashian avait expliqué qu’il lui serait difficile de revenir dans la ville Lumière avant « 5,6 ou 10 ans ». Pourtant, jeudi, la star du programme de téléréalité américain L’Incroyable Famille Kardashianassistait, avec son mari Kanye West et sa sœur Kylie Jenner, au défilé de la première collection homme pour Louis Vuitton de Virgil Abloh, ex-conseiller et ex-consultant artistique du rappeur. Virgil Abloh et Kanye West ont d’ailleurs fini en larmes.
Agathe Auproux se trouve trop grosse (et nous fatigue)
Agathe Auproux, c’est la reine du selfie sur Instagram. Et du second degré. On en déduit donc que sa dernière publication, une photo d’elle en maillot de bain sous laquelle elle a écrit « Quand tu tires sur l’élastique de ton maillot, que tu réalises que tu aurais dû commencer ton régime plus tôt, que tu mangeras quand même des gnocchis ce soir » n’avait pour but que de montrer ses formes et de s’attirer des commentaires élogieux sur son physique. Ce qui n’a pas manqué. Mais bon, elle aurait tout aussi bien pu écrire : « J’ai envie de poster une photo de moi en maillot avec une pose un peu originale et qu’on me dise que je suis bonne. »
Terry O'Neill has photographed everyone from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones, Brigitte Bardot to Frank Sinatra.
He is also the only person to have photographed every James Bond star from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.
He is known for his razor-sharp eye — so imagine his horror when he woke up one morning to find he couldn’t see clearly.
‘I wasn’t blind but everything looked a little blurry,’ says Terry, now 79. ‘When I went to bed it had all been fine, but suddenly it was like looking through the middle of an old scratched lens.
‘I got up but I initially felt a little unsteady on my feet because my view of the world had changed slightly.’
Terry O'Neil has photographed everyone from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones, Brigitte Bardot to Frank Sinatra.
Terry, who is married to Laraine (his second wife was Faye Dunaway) and has four children and three grandchildren, wondered if it was a complication of cataract surgery he’d had six months earlier.
‘It was strange because I thought I’d have near enough perfect vision after getting my cataracts done and was still busy working as a photographer,’ he says.
After waking up that morning with hazy vision, he went back to the surgeon who had carried out his cataract operation on the NHS.
The surgeon explained that this new problem wasn’t related to his cataracts but was most likely one that potentially had even bigger ramifications for his sight: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that leads to a loss of central vision which can make everyday activities such as driving or even reading difficult. Around 600,000 people in the UK have some degree of sight loss as a result of it.
It was devastating news. ‘I was shocked to the core,’ Terry recalls. ‘As a photographer, losing my sight was my worst nightmare. My eyes have been my livelihood for over 50 years and I was terrified I would end up blind and never be able to photograph anyone again.’
His surgeon referred Terry to Evelyn Mensah, a consultant eye surgeon at Central Middlesex NHS Hospital in London, who specialises in macular degeneration. She confirmed the diagnosis.
‘By the time I saw her a couple of weeks later my eyesight had deteriorated further, so by then I was struggling to read a book or paper and couldn’t see the hands on my watch very well. It was made pretty clear to me that unless I was treated fast, I’d be left partially blind and unable to work as a photographer. I couldn’t stand the thought that I might never see my wife, my children or grandchildren ever again.’
AMD typically strikes people in their 50s or 60s and affects one 90-year-old in five. It reduces the ability to make out fine detail —straight lines appear wavy, printed words blurred.
‘When someone with the condition looks at another person’s face or a clock, they’ll only be able to see the outline of the head or clock but not the facial features or the hands of the clock,’ explains Ms Mensah.
There are two kinds of AMD; dry and wet. Dry, a slow progressive disease, accounts for 80 per cent of cases and is caused by a build-up of waste products under a thinning macula (the central part of the retina at the back of the eye).
Wet AMD is caused by the growth of fragile blood vessels under the macula. These are prone to leak and bleed, which can blur the vision and, if not treated, lead to scarring and sight loss.
‘This occurs rapidly, which is why treatment should be started within a couple of weeks,’ says Ms Mensah. ‘While there is no treatment for dry AMD, any progression is extremely slow — over years and years.’
There is some evidence that a healthy diet rich in substances called carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), found in brightly coloured vegetables and green leafy veg such as spinach, can help delay progression.
He is also the only person to have photographed every James Bond star from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.
Terry, however, has wet AMD, ‘which is the cause of more devastating visual loss if it’s not treated’, says Ms Mensah.
As well as age, risk factors for AMD include a family history of the condition. But the most common risk factor people can control is smoking, ‘which quadruples your chances of getting macular degeneration’, she adds.Terry admits being ‘a 20-a-day man for nearly 50 years — I started smoking at 12 and didn’t stop until I was 60’.
Had he developed the condition 20 years ago, the chances are he would now be completely blind. Indeed, AMD remains the leading cause of blindness in this country. However, for wet AMD there are now injections to prevent further blood vessels developing.
The injections block the action of vascular endothelial growth factor, which is responsible for the growth of the abnormal vessels under the macula.
This stabilises an individual’s vision in more than 90 per cent of cases; in 30 per cent of cases it can even lead to improved vision.
Thanks to the treatment, Terry is still able to take pictures but his life now revolves around monthly hospital appointments to have injections in his eyes.
‘It’s not a lot of fun,’ he says. ‘But the alternative — going blind — is much worse.’
‘Whenever I tell my mates what the treatment involves, they screw up their faces and ask: “How can you bear to have that done?”. But you learn to live with it, and the thought of what’s going to happen is worse than the actual injection.’
During the first three months of treatment, patients need to have their eyes injected monthly. Thereafter the injections are usually reduced to once every two months. In the second year of treatment, the regularity of injections can be further reduced.
‘Within a few weeks of the first treatment most people will have noticed an improvement,’ says Ms Mensah. But for this to last, some people, like Terry, need regular repeat treatments for ever.
‘We don’t discharge patients who are stable and no longer need treatment, as they can develop re-activation of the wet AMD,’ adds Ms Mensah.
‘Terry’s AMD is more active in his left eye, so one eye needs treatment every two months and the other eye every four months.’
For Terry ‘the important thing is that my eyesight has stabilised and it’s not getting any worse’.
But some days are worse than others. ‘I make sure I sit by a bright light to read and I’ve got a watch with bigger hands that stick out, but on a bad day I rely on a magnifying glass for things such as reading or doing a crossword.’
As for photography: ‘I still do the odd charity job, my AMD hasn’t impacted on that, although I’ve pretty much photographed everyone I want to photograph.’
The success of the treatment means he won’t have problems recognising all those helping him celebrate his 80th birthday next month. ‘I’m just so grateful,’ says Terry. ‘I feel blessed to still be able to see. Most people don’t think twice about all they see around them, but I do. I’m a lucky man.’
The “plastic” we’re referring to is an art piece from contemporary artist Beau Dunn – a pink sign that literally reads PLASTIC. Sources tell us Kim bought one from Beau for $7,500 after seeing it on IG in January. She got it delivered in Feb., and installed it herself.
As you might recall … Kylie bought a very similar neon sign from Beau just last year, only hers was slightly bigger (depending on how you look at it) and it ran her $10k. Kylie’s sign is 48’‘x13’’ … and Kim’s is a bit smaller at 32’'x26’’. For all intents and purposes … same thing.
Looks like Kim and Kylie are embracing their pricey inner plastic. Good for them!
JUN 06, 2018
Veasey talks to Bazaar Art about his latest collaboration with luxury skincare brand La Prairie, what inspires his work and how it uniquely marries art and science
Harper’s Bazaar Art: Why and how did you start to work with X-rays?
Nick Veasey: I was travelling in the US when I saw an article about Dr. Albert Richards, a dentist that took exquisite X-rays of plants. I kept the article in my ‘interesting’ box. About a year later my wife, who was the designer for a TV show called The Big Breakfast said she needed an X-ray of a cola can as a visual for the show. Well, I was struggling to make my way as a photographer, needed the money badly so I persuaded her to tell her boss that I could do it. That was a total blag. I had no idea how to do an X-ray and my initial enquiries with hospitals were a total failure as they were “too busy treating patients to mess around.” Luckily I also found out that X-rays are used in industry to analyse metal fatigue – we don’t want the landing gear of an aircraft to have any cracks in the metal castings. So, I hired an X-ray machine and a technician, and 25 years later, I’m still doing it.
HBA: What inspires you as an artist?
NV: I find inspiration in contemporary culture, just like most artists. I am particularly inspired by artists working with just one medium or technique and consistently produce quality work. The work of Bridget Riley particularly inspires me. Ideas are crucial to creating strong art, and they must be good ideas.
HBA: How is your work fusing art and science?
NV: I use technology that is primarily for scientific use to create interesting pictures. Can you think of a stronger example of fusing art and science?
HBA: Can you tell us about your collaboration with La Prairie?
NV: When La Prairie first reached out, I presumed it would be to X-ray some of the organic ingredients that go into the products. I was surprised to find out that the challenge was to X-ray a physical compact. I’ve X-rayed many things, but never a compact. I was really pleased with the results. The image is technical yet ethereal and elegant. This came about due to a real collaboration between La Prairie and myself. The collaboration was fun, and their passion for aesthetics and genuine interest in my X-ray work took us to a place that we wouldn’t have gotten to on our own. That’s what I like about working with talented and passionate people – they take you in a slightly different direction; they push you. I like that a lot.
HBA: Can you share your creative process? Which stage of the process did you enjoy most and why?
NV: My X-ray facility is very different from a typical photographic studio. It is messy and industrial; the concrete chamber that contains my potentially dangerous X-ray machines is as far removed from the glamorous world of cosmetics as you can imagine. This juxtaposition does inspire me though. I like to make beauty from mess and chaos, and that’s what we did. We had to X-ray the Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation from many different angles and in different layers of its construction. TheseX-rays are on film that are then scanned to create a digital file that can be finished off on the computer.The most enjoyable part of the process for me was overcoming the technical challenges. Together with La Prairie, we found solutions that increased the quality of the final X-ray image.
HBA: How does your work reveal the technology behind our product?
NV: I think the X-ray is like a forensic examination of the Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation. It tells the story of the compact, how it is made, and what it does. The X-ray is revealing; it shows all the details that are normally hidden. The final image is beautiful. We have elevated the compact from being a functional object to an aspirational one.
HBA: What are your future projects?
NV: Many. My current major retrospective exhibition at Fotografiska Stockholm is due to have some very VIP’s attending so I am working on the tour. Future projects include an exhibition in March in New York where I will be introducing painted overplayed layers to my X-rays for the first time. We are also working on artworks of X-rays combined with physical objects. So they become part photograph, part sculpture. We are building a new gallery, studio and X-ray chamber that opens in June. Lots going on.
By Zachary Weiss • 03/20/18 8:30am
It doesn’t take millions to amass an impressive art collection, but it definitely helps. But if you didn’t inherit a trust fund, a little dedication can go a long way. These young collectors don’t count themselves as full-time gallerists or experts, but they’ve unabashedly fallen in love with art, and now, they’re hooked. With their walls full of unique creations, or in Matthew Chevallard’s case an additional storage unit, there’s no stopping these ravenous collectors from seeking out their next masterpiece.
Observer sat down with five collecting devotees to find out exactly how they entered the art world, their standout pieces and what they have their eye on next.
Matthew Chevallard is the one-man wunderkind behind flourishing footwear label Del Toro, but in his spare time, his taste for modern art takes precedence over his shoe collection. It’s a hobby first sparked by his mother, an artist, and his father, a life-long collector.
“Growing up in Italy, art is inherent in the culture,” Chevallard told Observer. By surrounding himself with people who he refers to as “friends of Sotheby’s”—including senior client liaison David Rothschild, Marlborough Gallery’s principal director Max Levai—as well as a steady stream of art-centric news, he retains an edited outlook on exactly what he’s after.
Like any 20-something, he often turns to Instagram as a source of discovery, opting to follow along with sculptor and self-proclaimed “art worker” Maurizio Cattelan and abstract artist Mark Grotjahn, both of whom he considers to be legends.
In all, Chevallard has amassed hundreds of works and opts to hang them on any spare wall in either his office or home. The rest of his collection, around 150 pieces, just sits in storage.
“Right now, I love contemporary art, and Arte Povera from Italy,” he told Observer. He has “everything from [Alighiero] Boetti and Mario Schifano to Katherine Bernhardt and Kaws.” Recently, he added a commissioned mixed media, neon-infused work by Thrush Holmes to his Miami-based collection, and hopes to add another from Matt McCormick in the coming months.
Artist/model/actress Beau Dunn has been immersed in the world of contemporary art from a young age.
“I grew up with parents that have a love for collecting art and my collection started with pieces gifted from them. One is a father and daughter portrait by Jorge Santos, and one is a painting of a nude woman with a horse’s head. It’s too large to take off the wall to see who the artist is from the back,” she tells Observer. “The overall theme of my collection revolves around pops of color, mostly pink, and pieces that make me feel happy when I walk by them.”
With this in mind, her acquisitions aren’t dictated by price, but simply by what catches her eye or who she surrounds herself with, in her native Los Angeles—especially the artists and industry insiders that Dunn has accepted into her close circle. Among her art world friends is Megan Mulrooney, a senior specialist for contemporary art at Paddle8, who helps Dunn shape her collection. “It’s so nice having a resource like Megan who enjoys art as much as I do. We bounce ideas off each other as well as discuss investment opportunities,” Dunn gushed to Observer.
Her significant investment pieces include a work by Niclas Castello, who she says is her current obsession.“He’s one of the leading contemporary artists out of Germany, and I recently received a commissioned work from his ‘Cube’ sculpture series,” she said. In hues of neon pink, Dunn is pretty certain this acquisition, a canvas painting crushed and confined within a transparent acrylic casing, will fit in just fine at home.
Next, she hopes to commission a custom pink painting from Retna, the acclaimed street artist and personal friend of Dunn’s—“I’m harassing him to do it!” she joked—as well as her dream purchase, “In Love” by Damien Hirst, which aptly depicts a heart in—you guessed it—Dunn’s favorite color.
So, why pink? “I have always loved pink, and my husband jokes that it’s his favorite color now too,” Dunn said of her estimated 13 works in the sweet hue.
Construction manager Jay Ezra Nayssan traverses job sites and art galleries seamlessly. Sometimes, he even blends the two—but only when the time is right. With completed and in-progress properties in both Los Angeles and New York under his Nayssan Properties umbrella, he has quickly become a patron and close confidante to more than a few modern artists. “I don’t look to anyone for acquisition advice,” he said matter-of-factly. But he does trust the aesthetic of his business partner and hotelier-turned-gallerist Benjamin Trigano. “We share a lot of the same tastes,” Nayssan told Observer.
This past January, the two opened a showroom together dedicated to applied arts called ANNEX, located in the front of Trigano’s Los Angeles gallery, M+B. “We have invited over a hundred visual artists and asked them to make their first design objects. In a way, it’s me and Benjamin’s dream collection.” The two have a penchant for items that don’t necessarily need to hang on a wall, and often serve a separate function such as creative forms of lighting, pottery and even cutlery. “In general, my interests lie in the between,” Nayssan said. “I am fascinated by visual artists whose works address design and interiors with candor and playfulness.”
In Naysann’s own home, this includes a palm tree lamp by Pentti Monkkonen fashioned from poplar, green Waluminum, and rechargeable LED lights, misshapen chairs by Jessi Reaves, a lightbox of scans assembled by Derya Akay resembling stained glass, planters by Natalie Jones adorned with blonde wigs and hybrid-oriental carpets by Sophie Stone. This is all in addition to more historical design pieces like the unmistakable heart chair by Verner Panton and several lamps by Gaetano Pesce.
It’s an ever-growing yet pragmatic collection and one that Nayssan will likely be adding to from his own ANNEX supply. “I can’t help but think I’ll be keeping some of those pieces for myself,” he said slyly.
Taking one look at Jessica Bennett’s art collection, it’s easy to see that she has a soft spot for whimsical works, a quality one might not expect from this former vice president and assistant general counsel of a New York private equity firm. But in fact, hanging on the walls of her Gramercy apartment is a minimalist geometric pattern by Will Cooke, a compilation of three panels depicting pomegranate seeds by Grace Johnson, and, Bennett’s personal favorite, a work by Robby Rose.
“Robby’s piece, that we are so lucky to have in our apartment, is a special still life of a pillbox,” she said. “It’s a daily memento.” Next, she hopes to snap up one of Gemma Gené’s signature mylar balloon paintings, which she loves for their, “much-needed dose of levity and revelry.”
“My acquisitions have picked up some steam over the past year thanks to a dear friend in the field,” she said, crediting Alexandra Porter, the social fixture and one-woman proprietor behind the revered Alexandra Porter Advisory, for discovering the bulk of her pieces. Porter remains the voice of validation for Bennett, whose attraction to each work is often supported by the experienced art advisor who regularly hosts salons in her apartment.
Bennett’s emotional attraction to each of her purchases means that there’s not much of a theme in her collection. So what is she really looking to buy? “Works that I treasure upon first sight and know I will treasure being on my walls for years to come,” she told Observer.
New York-based venture capitalist George Merck considers his collection to be an ever-evolving trove of rarities, dictated by his changing tastes and the equally shifting art market. In addition to his work as an investor, he serves on the board of trustees and two subcommittees at The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and has a love for art that harkens back to his teen years when he was given a gift from his mother. “It’s a set of hearts by Jim Dine, and they will forever remain on my wall as one of my favorite pieces,” Merck told Observer of the vibrant paintings created by the 83-year-old pop artist.
He then became interested in street art, drawn in by its buzz and relatively affordable price range, though several years later, admits that he’s mostly fallen out of love with it. “I was initially sucked up into the street art world, as many young collectors were, and bought up everything I could,” he recalled. “Most of the pieces I acquired have been rotated out for numerous reasons. One being, it’s nice to not wake up to graffiti in your apartment every day.” While Merck does keep a few street art pieces around, he’s developed a more established vision for his collection.
Like Chevallard, Merck has an appetite for both Arte Povera, and the Light and Space movement dominated by neon; works from both eras decorate the walls of his New York apartment. “I’m a very big fan of salon-style hanging,” he said. “My apartment is where all of my crown jewels pieces hang. I like to surround myself with the pieces that I love, and rarely leave wall space open. Occasionally the aesthetic of the piece fits more properly in either Amagansett at my father’s barn, or at my mother’s house in Palm Beach. I love my parents, but I have to admit, I keep the strongest work for myself.”
With this in mind, Merck has recently added an a eye-tricking neon piece by Ivan Navarro entitled “(The Void),” and “Cadmium Red,” a saturated wooden wall-hanging by Donald Judd created in 1968, although he plans to integrate fewer blue chip names in the coming years. “One of my personal favorites in my collection is a Borderline Series work by Kasper Sonne, who’s a very talented, young, Danish artist working out of Greenpoint,” he said. Sonne, known for his burnt canvases, is just one of the several names shown to Merck by photographer Hunter Barnes, who he considers to be his closest friend in the art world. Barnes has motivated Merck to not only support artists by purchasing their work, but by getting to know them personally.
“I have visited a good majority of the artists that have created the work I own,” he told us. “I have other friends in the industry that I keep in less contact with, but we always have a good time when we see each other. Guys like Devin Troy Strother, Scott Campbell, and Mungo Thomson, a recent acquaintance, have all been really cool to me.”
The artist, whose work has included Hermès scarves and John Wayne portraits, turns to butterflies in his latest exhibit
BY LAURIE PRINCE
EMBROIDERED BUTTERFLIES FLIT OVER diamond-dusted oil paint, across couture box lids, and into a boxlike acrylic table. Crafted by the thousands on sophisticated Japanese sewing machines, they’re the signature motif in Stephen Wilson’s newest creation, Shine a Light When It’s Gray Out. His first canvas in the series was black with a single butterfly, capturing the estrangement many people feel in this bleak era of American politics. But one butterfly became dozens, then hundreds as he kept working.
“Everywhere you go, it seems like there’s no hope,” Wilson says. Personable and focused, he has a husky voice that carries traces of a New Jersey accent and percolates with the energy of his Italian heritage. When he became a father in late 2016 (he and his wife, Aundrea, have a daughter), he began to see the United States from a father’s eyes. “How do I explain the shooting in Las Vegas to a child?” he wondered. Thinking about his own youth, when access to news was limited to a 30-minute TV show before bed, he was sobered by how much the world had changed. He turned to art for a statement of hope.
Although he’s earned a living from his creativity throughout his adult life, he didn’t enter the world of fine art until three years ago. His career began in fashion design in New York City, using computer programming in the early 1990s to embroider clothes for clients ranging from Disney to Ralph Lauren. But as apparel jobs moved overseas, contracts dried up.
Wilson had a sister in Charlotte, so he brought a handful of employees and came here, launching a business in 2003, Anita Goodesign (yes, “I need a good design”). The company sold his embroidery patterns and taught classes; today he has 50 employees in a south Charlotte complex. By 2014, the company had reached a level of success that freed him to pursue his dream of fine art. His most recognizable creations, to date, are elaborately embroidered box lids from Hermès, Gucci, and other couture lines. Framed in simple shadow boxes, they’re a riot of color and pattern, often with finely stitched flowers or animals.
The butterfly dominates his current work, but could just as easily symbolize Wilson’s life. He’s broken out of the commercial cocoon to create textile works carried by galleries in Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, and the New Gallery of Modern Art in Charlotte. With short-cropped gray hair and the sensibilities of a man who’s worked hard, he’s giving his audience more of his heart in this new series—a father’s point of view.
Let David Yarrow describe his 2014 trip to photograph Dinka cattle herders in a remote region of war-ravaged South Sudan.
The journey from the capital city Juba required “…two days on a shocking road, hours of walking in 108 [degree] Fahrenheit heat and wading through 4 feet of water known to house the odd Nile crocodile.”
To Yarrow’s way of thinking, the discomfort was well worth it because it yielded Mankind, a panoramic view of the Dinka sprinkled among a forest of long-horned cattle ranged on a flat plain ribboned with smoke.
The photograph sold for $75,000 in May at Sotheby’s in London — three times its high estimate.
It also persuaded photography dealer Holden Luntz to represent Yarrow at his Palm Beach gallery.
“I thought we didn’t need another ethnographic photographer,” Luntz said. “When we saw this picture, it sealed the deal.”
A version of Mankind is one of the few images of people in Yarrow’s show at Holden Luntz Gallery. Instead, it’s filled with large-scale, up-close and personal black-and-white photographs of wildlife.
What the animals share with the Dinka is that they’re difficult to get to and rarely photographed.
The London-based photographer, who was born into a Scottish shipping dynasty, was a successful sports photographer before family pressure pushed him into a career in finance in the 1980s. Eventually, Yarrow founded a flourishing hedge fund.
Divorce forced him to re-evaluate his life, which he did while traveling to remote corners of the world and photographing what he saw. Around the time he visited the Dinka, he decided pursue fine-art photography full time.
“He has the wherewithal, the conviction and the determination to get to wherever he needs to be,” Luntz said. “Whatever he needs to do to get a great picture, he’s going to do it.”
Yarrow’s close encounters with wildlife have driven home the importance of protecting them. He’s donated more than $2 million to wildlife charities and conservation groups, most notably the Tusk Trust, a British charity focused on animal conservation in Africa.
Prince William, Tusk’s royal patron, wrote the forward to Yarrow’s latest book, Wild Encounters, Iconic Photographs of the World’s Vanishing Animals and Cultures, which was named Amazon’s 2016 best arts and photography book.
Yarrow, 52, saw a niche for himself in wildlife photography “because it’s been poorly done,” he said.
Blame that on the telephoto lens, he said. He prefers a wide-angle lens.
“Great pictures come where you’re close to the subject,” he said.
In his photographs lions appear to leap at the viewer. Every line of a “big tusker” elephant’s wrinkled skin is visible.
He was stationed about 20 yards away in a cage when he shot Hairspray, a frontal view of a male lion running. For less dangerous animals, he might set his camera, shielded in a custom-built box, in the dirt, then lie in wait with a remote control.
Chance plays a big role in determining success or failure.
When he shot The Untouchables, he was thrilled when a big bull elephant agreeably moved into position to block the sun, creating a dramatic balance of dark and light.
He’s ruined more than a few cameras. Elephants trample them, lionesses carry them away. Fortunately, he’s Nikon’s European ambassador.
He typically shoots in black and white. “It’s reductive, interpretive and timeless,” he told Billionaire.com.
His expeditions require meticulous planning and extensive research. His memorable photograph of the Dinka, for example, would have been impossible had he not thought to pack a ladder so that he could shoot the flat scene from a high vantage point.
In a world deluged with images, “for a picture to transcend, it’s got to have something,” he said. “It’s got to be big.”
That’s a tall order, even for him. “I probably take only three or four pictures a year like that,” he said.
Nick Veasey is a 55-year-old photographer and soccer fan who had never handled hockey gear until he started X-raying the equipment seen on these pages. He works out of a concrete bunker in the southeast of England that was built to contain the tremendous amount of radiation he uses to make his images. He has X-rayed flowers, boomboxes and motorcycles. He spent a year doing the same to a Boeing 777, piece by piece. He parked a lead-lined trailer outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in order to shoot pieces from its fashion collection — a whalebone corset, gloves with lace gauntlets, a taffeta gown by Balenciaga.
In the top image, the goalie appears as a kind of ghost samurai. Arresting, but it undermines the romantic ideal of the goalie as a fearless, improvisational neurotic. Goalies were always the most colorful characters on the ice: Gerry Cheevers, for example, who painted stitches on his mask for every puck that hit him in the face, or Tony Esposito, who would not utter a word to anyone on game day and pioneered the aggressively knock-kneed butterfly style — the most exuberant, acrobatic and desperate approach to net-minding. Yet by reducing the goalie to the sum of the gear, Veasey is on to something.
For most of hockey’s golden age — before there were teams in Arizona and Florida — goalie pads were decidedly low-tech. They were made of leather and stuffed with kapok and horsehair. Few teams had dedicated goalie coaches; every player had his own style. Then in the late 1990s, a new design for leg pads hit the market. They were manufactured with synthetic leather and filled with superlight high-density foam. Crucially, they had an articulated knee cradle. So, when a goalie dropped to his knees, his pads automatically rotated outward, till they were flush with the ice and formed a perfect wall. Even those without double-jointed hips could butterfly like Tony Esposito. And almost immediately, every goalie did.
You can’t deny the results. Goalies have never been harder to score on. The position has been revolutionized, possibly at the expense of artistry. But hockey people who fret that the goalie has become a defensive technocrat are missing the big picture. The point is to stop the puck; style counts for nothing. Fans love the balletic lunge that sends the puck skittering just outside the post. But Mike Richter, who was the starting goalie for the New York Rangers when the new style entered the game, once pointed out that they are cheering an error. “Most fans go wild when they see a goalie make what looks like a great save, but the chances are what they are seeing is a save that was made from being out of position.” What will never change, no matter the equipment, is the fact that goalies are simply different: They spend the entire game in one spot, and mostly by themselves.
Nike recently unveiled its brand new headquarters in New York City’s Midtown district. The immense space spans 150,000 square feet and even includes an indoor basketball court capable of seating 400 spectators. To celebrate the opening, the Swoosh commissioned Montreal-based artist Stikki Peaches to embellish a section of the headquarters with signature collage artwork.
The artist created a sprawling graffiti montage of Kate Moss on one wall with accompanying pieces throughout the section such as an overturned portrait of James Dean with a neon Nike sign overhead. Check out the murals by Stikki Peaches above and find more of his work on Instagram. In case you missed the full tour, get a closer look at Nike’s NYC headquarters here.
Nike Headquarters NYC
855 Sixth Ave.
New York, NY 10001
Contemporary artist Beau Dunn is a double threat: She possesses both beauty and brains.
The seriously stunning model-slash-actress is more than a pretty face—she’s a hardworking artist and entrepreneur. Inspired by her childhood in LA—where she was engulfed, by default, in “material excess"—Dunn is known for tongue-in-cheek mixed media photography, sculptures and paintings.
And the successful artist’s most recent installation, of her iconic Barbie-inspired works no less, couldn’t be more fitting. The patron? Kylie Jenner. The location? Her glam room.
I recently caught up with the busy entrepreneur before she headed out to Miami for Art Basel. Read on to take an exclusive look inside Kylie Jenner’s glam room and learn more about the talented artist.
Can you explain the inspiration behind your "Plastic” series, as well as your process?
Growing up in Beverly Hills inspired my Barbie series and solo show entitled “Plastic.” Los Angeles is a magical city with so many amazing attributes, however, as I grew up, it became increasingly clear that Los Angeles is in its own little bubble. I remember growing up and there being paparazzi at the gates of my school and at sports games on Saturdays. LA is focused on Hollywood, celebrities and material excess. This focus has created a feeling of needing to be prettier, skinnier, and more beautiful than the next person. The constant pressure and pursuit of ‘perfection,’ for both men and women, was the inspiration for my first series in “Plastic.”
For the Barbie series, I photographed six Barbies, some vintage, and some new. There has been so much controversy with Barbie over the years, so I felt that she would be an interesting take on beauty. She is “Plastic.”
I have to say, there’s no better fit for your “Plastic” series than Kylie Jenner’s glam room. How did you get connected with Kylie?
I actually collaborated with Kris Jenner for her Birkin closet last year. We built Kris this amazing closet centered around my neon sculpture “Need Money For Birkin.” Kylie happened to be there the day of the installation and fell in love with the art and we have been working together ever since. Kylie has an incredible sense of style and knows exactly what she wants. In fact, she has personally picked out every piece she owns of mine and it’s an honor to be in her collection. I could not think of a better place for my Barbie Portraits than in her glam room!
As a top emerging female artist, you have really made a splash in both the fine art and entertainment worlds. Your artwork has some heavy-hitting collectors, including fellow artist Shepard Fairey, supermodel Claudia Schiffer and actor David Arquette. Do you have any advice for other emerging artists?
The fine art world is very particular and I feel that the most important thing is never to give up. It has taken years for me to enter the fine art world and I feel that my success has come from my tenacity and work ethic, which I feel are both imperative if you want to succeed in this industry. Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them my ideas for my next art series, but I keep following my gut and listening to my heart.
As an artist, do you think it’s also important to be involved on the business side?
Absolutely! The creative aspect is not the only part of being an artist. As an artist, you have to be able to run your own company, know your numbers and be your own CEO. I feel being an artist is a crash course in accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship all in one.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Anything exciting in the works?
I’m gearing up for Art Basel Miami Beach! This year I’m debuting my “Next Generation” neon series including some new works with Art Angels Gallery. This has been a huge year for me, as my “Plastic” series is coming to a close. I’m excited to start working on new art and brainstorming my new series. I am also launching a new venture in January called Beau’s Babes, which is the perfect mix of my love for fashion and artwork. It will be a one of the coolest made-to-order fashion and accessory lines available and I cannot wait to launch January!
There’s something deeply meditational about Lauren Baker’s art. Her latest exhibition, The Colour Of Energy, is essentially a series of circles in varying hues and depths and has been inspired by both the Icelandic Aurora Borealis and aura energy colours. It’s an exploration of chakras, with each canvas addressing a different chakra in the body. You can even have your own aura photographed (I did, in case you were wondering, and apparently I’m full of yellow energy). Stand in front of one of these canvases and you can soon fall into a kind of yogic state. They’re quietening. Downstairs in her studio, Lauren hosts gong baths and meditation sessions. The work and the space go hand in hand.
But Lauren, originally from Middlesborough, hasn’t always been this sort of new age creative. In fact, until 2012, she worked in a corporate job and led a ‘hedonistic lifestyle’. It wasn’t until she travelled to South America that she had something of an artistic awakening. ‘I was feeling disillusioned in the corporate world, and after reading a book called The Power Of Now, I suddenly quit my job and set off on an adventure to South America,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I joined a street art project in Brazil where I realized that art is medicine.’ Three months later, she found herself in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon where she met some shamans, deep in the jungle.
‘I had an epiphany that I was an artist,’ she says. And that was it – her career was set out. ‘After the revelation, I travelled to Venice to do a short course in mosaics and arrived back to London with 100% belief, passion and determination, ready to fully embrace my creativity.’ Before she found art, she says that she led a ‘pretty hedonistic lifestyle’. ‘When I started creating, I found meaning. Art is truly therapeutic. I’m so passionate about creating. I found my thing. I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work
‘Sometimes I’m in the studio till 6am because I’m on a roll, in the flow, experimenting, and time evaporates. Those flow periods are blissful. I can express myself in ways I cannot express in words. I get ideas when I meditate and through my dreams.’ Her artwork explores the fragility of life…in neon. Sometimes she’ll write positive mantras in neon, similar to Tracey Emin. Other times, she’ll use light to create mirrored illusions. One of her soon-to-be-released pieces is a mirrored coffin, the interior of which seems to spiral indefinitely. ‘I’m intrigued by the afterlife, portals to other dimensions, and visually interpreting unseen energy,’ says Lauren.
Her own unlikely journey into art has influenced her newest project: Lauren is starting an art movement called ‘The Creativity Myth’. She wants to help more people get into art who previously have been hindered by thinking themselves ‘bad’ at it. ‘I believe we all have innate creativity – we are all artists,’ she says. ‘Too many people focus on a perceived lack of talent or skill resulting in a fear-driven creative block. I believe every single person has creative potential. We need to shift the focus towards being open and receptive and to seek opportunities to creatively express ourselves. ‘I genuinely believe the world will be a more harmonious place if we all tap into our personal creativity. No matter what the medium – whether, art, music, dance, writing and so on.
Think about what you enjoyed doing when you were five or six-years-old. Before social norms and others’ expectations intoxicated the true essence of you. That might be the clue to what you are truly passionate about.
The appreciation of neon has come full circle. It was initially revered for being unique and unconventional, then branded brash and intrusive, before re-discovering its popularity of late. Today, the exotic and enchanting appeal of neon is at its brightest – just look to God’s Own Junkyard as evidence – as well as the timeless work of Tracy Emin, Gavin Turk and Martin Creed.
But there is also a new generation of artists who are taking up the neon baton, reinventing and reconfiguring neon to speak of a new era and of a new time in modern art. One artist leading the way is Olivia Steele – a conceptual artist whose work in neon has been gaining widespread attention across the world. The Berlin-based American artist, who works to the ethos of ‘Be Light. Share Wisdom. Make Magic’, delves into the spiritual and philosophical elements of modern life by experimenting with neon statements and the surrounding world.
The departure from the raw, bold slogans of neon to public installations and outdoor interventions, ensures that Steele’s work has a lot more depth than what we’ve seen neon have before, as she even explains herself that she uses neon lighting to “charge spaces with ironic and spiritual meaning.”
Kylie Jenner’s not letting her baby news get in the way of her dolled up lifestyle … which is now steeped in “plastic” for the low cost of about $9,999.99.
Our Kylie sources tell TMZ the expecting Kardashian sister dropped around $10k for a hot pink neon sign that says “PLASTIC” … which she recently hung up in her Glam Room and showcased on social media.
We’re told Kylie bought the 48x13 art piece from contemporary artist Beau Dunn about a month ago, and it was just installed on Friday. Kylie’s bought other art from Beau in the past, and it looks like she’s keeping the Barbie theme going for a pretty penny.
THE UNTOUCHABLES, Amboseli, Kenya, 2017: "Bang! This is a lucky shot on the widest angle lens I have - the 20m. It required a great deal of predictive analysis and good fortune. I am clearly not with the camera! The composition is an act of god. The big bull had to block the late afternoon sun otherwise there was no picture and he kindly did that.“ Photo and commentary: David Yarrow/The Untouchables- DAVID YARROW
Two separate exhibitions in Paris and London will showcase the iconic portraits of wild animals taken by wildlife photographer David Yarrow, globally renowned for capturing the beauty of the planet’s endangered wild animals, remote landscapes and cultures.
Girls from Wild Encounters Exhibit Photo: David Yarrow/A. GalerieDAVID YARROW
Gold from Wild Encounters Exhibit Photo: David Yarrow
Glasgow-born Yarrow, 41, is considered one of the world’s leading nature photographers and his photos “capturing the splendor of what remains wild and free in our world,” as explained in his most recent book, are coveted in the art world.
Last April at the annual Tusk Gala in New York, his images raised $175,000 at auction and in May at Sotheby’s photography auction in London, his iconic picture, ‘Mankind,’ was sold for £60,000.
HEAVEN CAN WAIT II, Amboseli, Kenya, 2014: "This is a hard-earned and timeless photograph, some pictures firmly grab our attention and then retain it and I do now believe that this is one. It has soul and a sense of place to it and I am proud to be responsible for its creation. There are many quiet days or weeks in the field, where there is nothing magical to capture and no transcending images with which to return. In my own crusade, this single image makes up for many of such days. ” Photo and commentary: David Yarrow/The Untouchables
FISHER KING, Alaska , 2015: Over the years, I have spent many days working close to grizzlies in Alaska and this is surely my most visually arresting photograph. The intimacy is courtesy of a well-positioned camera and a 28 mm wide angle lens. The bear was big, primeval and menacing, and in this instant, just two feet from the camera. We were on site just after dawn and I was begging the bear to come to the camera when he did exactly that.“ Photo and commentary: David Yarrow/The Untouchables-Maddox GalleryFISHER KING
Yarrow is the photographer, at age 20, of the iconic shot of soccer legend Diego Maradona holding the World Cup at the 1986 final. He worked for a decade as a stockbroker in London and New York, and in 1995 founded the investment fund, Clareville Capital. After that, he turned full-time to photography, focusing on wildlife and conservation.
The Killer From Wild Encounters Exhibit Photo: David Yarrow
His work has been exhibited at many of the world’s leading galleries and his book, Wild Encounters published with Rizzoli New York last year with a foreword by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was awarded “Best Art and Photography Book of 2016,” by Amazon.
The Puzzle Photo: David Yarrow
Royalties from Wild Encounters, featuring portraits from seven continents and many of the Earth’s most endangered species, go to Tusk Trust, the African conservation charity whose patrons are the young British royals, dedicated to protecting Africa’s wildlife and natural habitats, and supporting 53 projects in 18 countries. Yarrow is the charity’s affiliated photographer.
BAGHEERA, South Africa, 2016: This image of a black leopard in South Africa, grabs the attention - social media immediately informed on that - but my role in the strength of the image is secondary. It is the magnificence of the cat that is key - I just happened to have the very best equipment and to be in the right place at the right time. That the leopard should pose against the light, in tall wispy grass was the best possible outcome. Whilst luck is the residue of design, I totally acknowledge that this is a lucky image. But then again, who cares? Photos and commentary: David Yarrow
THE FACTORY, Lewa, Kenya, 2017: I have been seeking an abstract image like this for some time and have consistently failed partly because the zebra is so skittish. The bigger issue is that if all the zebras are on the same piece of at land, as is usually the case, one animal tends to block the body of those behind. It dawned on me that the odds of success would narrow if I could find zebras stacked on a hill. The grevy zebra, for which Lewa is renowned, have such distinctive and pristine stripes that are thinner than other breeds to the south and the stripes are very much white on a black background as opposed to black on a white coat and this works well. When this image presented itself in my viewfinder, I could not quite believe my luck. Photos and commentary: David Yarrow
Among the methods which Yarrow uses to entice wild animals to approach his lens are scents that attract the different species and that he uses to coat his camera.
“Driven by a passion for sharing and preserving the Earth’s last great wild cultures and species, Yarrow is as much a conservationist as a photographer and artist. His work has transcended wildlife photography, and is now collected and shown as fine art around the world,” according to the book.
HELLO, Kaktovik, Alaska, 2015: On one unforgettable August evening in the North Slope of Alaska, I was offered a spectacularly close encounter with a group of polar bears, after two hours of trawling the land with my trusted Inuit guide. I must have been as close to a polar bear as is possible in the wild and lived to tell the tale. I was also using Nikon’s flagship 58m lens, which captures every hair. When the first large print of the image came off the drum in LA, one of the team turned to me and said, ‘David, look at the eyes, you are in them!’ He was right; I had inadvertently taken a selfie through the eyes of a polar bear. Photo and commentary: David Yarrow
EMMA, Dinokeng, South Africa 2017: This image of Emma, a lioness within Kevin Richardson’s sanctuary, speaks for itself. I don’t need to comment on the detail in her face it’s there for all to see. Photo and commentary: David Yarrow
“Yarrow goes Pole-to-Pole, continent-to-continent mountain to tundra to primordial jungle…takes the familiar lions, elephants, tigers, polar bears and makes them new again by creating iconic images that deliberately connect with us at a highly emotional level,” the book continues
78 DEGREES NORTH, Svalbard, Norway, 2017: I have generally been disappointed by my own work with polar bears in Svalbard. I haven’t tended to do them or their habitat justice. This is a Giants Kingdom and my images have been too marginal to do them justice. This big male polar bear lends weight to the contention that wildlife photography can be art. Photo and commentary: David Yarrow
Photographer Nick Veasey has made a name for himself by photographing large objects using X-Rays instead of visible light.
“I’d like to leave behind a collection of images where people look at them and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize you could do so much with an X-Ray camera,‘” Veasey says.
Here’s a small sampling of X-Ray photos created by Veasey: