AHC: Can you tell us a bit about your process, themes & inspirations?
Al: There is no one specific method or ritual to taking an idea and or thought to fruition. For me it's just second nature. I am inspired by everyday occurrence, overheard conversations, first hand and peripheral observations of human conduct, preoccupations, etc. I believe that as long as there is a "Human Race", there is no shortage of inspiration/material.
AHC: What first drew you to art & graffiti?
Al: As far back as I can remember, I have been drawing and attracted to art, music, film and any other form of artistic endeavor. As a toddler I would draw in the air with my finger ( imaginary sketchbook), I decorated my crib with crayon scrawls, I began creating my own comic books in the 3rd or 4th grade. I made dioramas and models in my pre-teen years. for me, creating has always been an innate need.
AHC: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in the NYC music world?
Al: More specifically I was involved in the music scene that was going on in lower Manhattan during the early 80's. I had just wrapped up my SAMO©... graffiti project with Jean Michel Basquiat and looking to do something a bit more challenging than writing on walls. I kind of had a pretty good sense of rhythm so I pursued percussion instruments. Congas,Timbales, talking drum, berimbau, wood blocks, home made xylophones and home made vibraphones. I really went head deep into it. I made a lot of my own instruments. I spent a good 4-5 years doing just music. I played & recorded with some very cool bands during that period. KONK, Liquid Liquid, Dog Eat Dog, Elliot Sharp (ISM) Ivan Julian (of Richard Hell & the Voidoids) & Theoretical Girls. I also played the percussion on the iconic hip hop record that JMB produced for Ramellzee & K-Rob, BEAT BOP. The 80's spun out of control and so did I. The lifestyle took its toll on me and some of my associates.
AHC: Can you tell us about your Wet Paint Series?
Al: In 2009 I began collecting the WET PAINT signs used by MTA thru out the subway system with the intention of "Doing something with them". I immediately began making anagrams from multiple signs. It would be another 2 years of developing the idea before I actually posted one of my reworked signs back on a subway station wall. Once I started I could not stop. I generated anagram after anagram and began posting them publicly on a weekly basis. The messages ranged from comical to poignant. Some of them just plain absurd. I worked with just the WET PAINT signs for about 3 years when I decided to incorporate the SERVICE CHANGE ALERT posters. I began working with Subway Artist Jilly Ballistic and felt that I had exhausted the possibilities using just the 9 characters (W,E,T,P,A.I.N plus W turned upside down to make M and P reversed to make a d). Jilly's images required captions and adding the letters and numbers of the subway trains really expanded not only my alphabet but the look of the signs as well. It is still a constrained alphabet. I only have 3 vowels and no H,K,Y,O,V,X or U. I have been very ambitious with my WET PAINT series and shown the work at least 5-6 times in the last year and a half.
AHC: Do you have any upcoming exhibits or projects you'd like to tell people about?
Al: I am currently trying to put together a couple of shows but no fixed date as of yet. My work with Jilly Ballistic is featured in a book by Yoav Litvin about collaborative street art projects entitled "2 CREATE". The book is slated to be released in October. Other than that I am struggling, hustling, working and trying to get my own indie book of WET PAINT signage printed and published by the end of this year!!
To find more of Al's work and for further information visit his website at al-diaz.com
AHC: Can you tell us a bit about your process, themes & inspirations?
Wendy: As far as I know I was always interested in animals; I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. The first drawing I made was of (some kind of) an animal. The horse was my major obsession, but anything else in the animal world was of interest as well. I spent most of my time looking at animals, in books, TV, and in real life. I drew them constantly. I played with them, and spent a lot of time trying to be one. I acquired as many real live animals as I could. I rode horses at every opportunity, but was never able to own one. Animals, even more than humans, express themselves through body language. My sculptures use the body language of animals to express a feeling or state of being, with motion conveying emotion.
I think the inspiration and the idea of the work is simply about what it is to be a living being, what it feels like. Though I work with images of animals, I believe the feeling and emotion of the work is shared by humans- we are ultimately all animals on this planet together.
In art school I tried to be an abstract painter, like the people I admired. But I kept making small sculptures of animals on the side; first in clay, then in wax to cast in bronze in a foundry class at Pratt, and later out of tree branches tied together with wire. At a residency in Ucross, Wyoming, and later at the McDowell Colony in Peterborough NH, I struggled with painting and turned to the animal sculptures as something physically real that I could dive into. I made a whole body of work this way in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, but they all fell apart and decayed. Frustrated, I decided to learn how to weld. Since then I have been able to make work that survives the outdoors.
As a kid I spent time in New Hampshire, where we had a summer house. This was my favorite place in the world. I returned to it as an adult and built a studio there. I now spend 4-5 months of the year there, ride a friend’s horses, and thus get my necessary dose of nature and animals. Back in Brooklyn, I get inspiration from the energy of the city, from my artist and musician friends, from the endless stream of art to see. I found a great live/work situation in Bushwick in 2002 and it has been fun to be a part of the growing art scene there. And to live in a place where I can get delivery! But I will be losing the space soon; my landlord is tearing it down to put up a development. So it goes!
AHC: What first drew you to art?
Wendy: Again, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to draw. I was the youngest in an academic and scientific family. Hanging out in the evenings, discussions were challengingly articulate and intellectual. I participated extremely peripherally. I relied on drawing as a way to be present, but have my own world and not feel at a loss.
My mother and her father, my grandfather (a printer by trade) were both pretty skilled at drawing and painting. My mother bought us oil paints and that was one of the family activities we did. I took to it very naturally; the paintings and drawings I did then are scarily similar to what I do now!
AHC: There is quite an involved physical aspect that comes along with creating these sculptures, could you describe what that process is like?
Wendy: To make the sculptures I scavenge scrap yards and construction sites for evocatively shaped pieces of metal, looking for pre-existing lines and shapes with which to draw. Most of the metal is rebar, the reinforcement rod used in buildings, bridges, and highways. Pulled from the concrete for recycling it is tortuously twisted, with fantastic curves and shapes, and comes in a great variety of texture and thickness. Bent and twisted, the pieces contain energy and a potential new life. I collect loads in my pickup truck and drag it all back to my studio. (A large sculpture of 1000 lbs requires about 2,000 lbs of raw material). To begin a sculpture I have an idea of the type of animal it’s going to be, and a rough mental image of the gesture. I look for photos in books and on the web, and more and more take them myself. I draw from photos and from life to understand the motion. I put all those images up around me for reference as I work. I weld a few pieces of rebar together to make a simple tripod that I can build off of. It’s very free form- I don’t measure, or draw it out exactly first. I work out a backbone, which helps determine the gesture, and then sketch freely, welding steel line to line in the air. For the most part I choose pre-existing curved lines from my pile, and cut them free with the oxy-acetylene torch. If I need to adjust the curve I can heat and bend with the torch. Because the arc welder is immediate, I can tack-weld a steel line in place, step back and look, and if I don’t like it can twist it off easily. I refer to drawings and photos to refine the image. Usually the whole piece gets tack-welded in this fashion, and it’s only when I’m pretty sure about everything that each section gets welded thoroughly. Because it’s not a solid form all the connections have to be strong, so I spend days on the final welding to make the piece able to survive transportation and installation.
AHC: You write that the landscape & the environment becomes a crucial part of the work (fills out the spaces) what is the process of picking that environment or location like for each piece?
Wendy: Ever since I started working on a large scale, the work seemed to ask to be shown outdoors, so I focused on outdoor sculpture exhibitions. Many of these type of shows ask for site specific proposals, and one has a chance to view the grounds. I look for a space that calls to me in some way. I showed in the Berkshires a lot in the early 2000’s and had the opportunity to work with varied and beautiful landscapes.
In 2005 I started working with a curator in Maine, June LaCombe. Her familiarity with the nuances of certain landscapes and the moods different places evoke allows her to envision pieces in their sites, sometimes before they even exist. We were both interested in how the viewer encountered each piece, and how the environment it was placed in revealed meaning and character.
The use of industrial scrap added new forms and another layer of meaning to the work; I’m re-imagining animals, often endangered or extirpated, using the remnants of industry. Pieces of bridges, buildings, and machinery form seemingly living creatures. Presence and absence play back and forth in the sculptures: a network of steel lines builds the form, drawing and re-drawing the animal, creating tension like the sudden sighting of a wild animal. The surrounding environment penetrates the negative spaces between the lines of metal; the landscape itself is embedded in the work.
Sometimes it completes the piece, as in River Elk, 2004, the group of elk swimming in the water. The water provides an environment, and by truncating the body also abstracts it, integrating the landscape and leaving something to the imagination. The site transforms the piece by having the animal merge/emerge with and from it.
AHC : Do you have any upcoming exhibits or projects you'd like to tell people about?
Wendy: My installation Shadow Migrations at Court Square Park in Queens (https://www.nycgovparks.org/art-and-antiquities/clare-weiss-award )
is on exhibit until November 2016. It’s a nice little park, right across from PS!, and a few blocks from the Sculpture Ctr. After that it will travel in an expanded version (up to 20 pieces) to Summit NJ until Nov 2017
- I’m participating in Satellite Art Fair at Art Miami in December with the Berlin Collective (http://satellite-show.com/miami-exhibition)
- I’m having a solo show at Studio 10 in Bushwick, Brooklyn (http://www.studio10bogart.com/) Feb 2017. I’m planning to make all new work, but don’t know what it will be yet
Kurabara-sensi refused to use
A potter’s wheel. Two squares of wood, the one
Set on top to rotate, gave him the tone
And spirit he sought. I’d stay up all night
To help him fire his pots. He made plates and
Dishes, but was famous for his tea bowls,
Chawan, used in tea ceremony, and
We’d sit down in his studio to
Drink the smooth green tea that’s powdered, that he’d
Whisk into hot spring water. When you sip
From a chawan you feel the ease and grace
Of tea. The bowl’s hand built so the center
Of gravity is high. All night, after the
Kiln was loaded, we’d add to the logs placed
Before to maintain hot temperature.
Everything of the earth has spirit, he’d
Stop to say, and everything of this earth
Is not perfectly symmetrical. He’s
All right for geometry, Euclid, but
Not for making beauty, the wabi, the
Sabi. Beauty needs waves of accident,
Like trees, like leaves, like the cherry blossoms,
To be true, to not ring hollow, to be
Art that brings spirit to our mortal hearts
EINSTEIN DATA SHEET
When Edison invented the telephone Einstein handed him the records to play on it. Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Einstein is called the theory of relativity. Einstein died over fifty years ago, but due to the relativity of time death wasn’t in the right time zone yet to tell him. Einstein has already been to Mars; that's why there are so many cats on the planet. Einstein has counted to infinity - an infinite number of times. When Einstein does a pushup, he isn't lifting his body up, he's pushing the universe away. Einstein doesn’t wear a watch. He decides what time it is. Outer space exists because it's afraid to be in the same space with Einstein. If Einstein stares at two plus two equals four for a second, the answer will transform to two plus two equals minus eight.
Bio: Chuck Taylor does photography, children's magic shows, fiction, and poetry. He is currently unemployed and is enjoying the trip as his canoe moves toward going over the waterfall.
On a gas stove pears are brewing in chai tea.
The rhapsody of Qatari dates split open like mandalas
Melt the sticks of oud. You watch the Moroccan
Spiced eyes of sunset trail off behind pentagram mountains;
Skies red from the meditation of fasting. Your stomach
Burnt out with fragrances of a Syrian moon, which rises
Above dusk aromas. Your insides an empty ashtray of galaxies.
With practice, gutting out food and nicotine for a month
Becomes an instrumental study of your own criminal
Psychology: a gonzo lifestyle of arithmetic cathedrals
Soon it will be time to pull the balls of malaria off the trees,
Go back inside and set them down on the table,
Take a scalping blade and curve back the rind,
Watch it curl over your wrist, then throw them in
With the pears, listening to the crows moan.
Or maybe you’ll look on as a cloud of mosquitos
Head towards a mass suicide beyond the dreaming
Of a gothic Ramadan.
Shooting birds in a field, 1989
while shooting birds his eyes were dim and narrow.
my father’s beard sopped with cold morning mist,
meditating the owls hiding sweet seeds of sapphire
behind their beaks. their oracles begin shouting
in the gun’s blossom of bullets. the sun
pushes through deep dreaming’s ruin.
only kookaburras gargling tree sap
fantasies the recklessness of dreams.
the ember of their feathers glowing in the dark leaves.
as we turn to leave them
our backs crumble like mountains.
Bio: Abdul-Jaleel Abdalla is a poet and artist from Brisbane, Australia.
Dry Portrait of Frida Kahlo
From eyebrow to bars
I am crowned with a rail of thorns
this vertebral column of skulls agonizes me
this severed placenta slavery feeds me
the orphanage pushing my gut aborts me
I am a motherless ghost
my dry udders drip rusted curds
punishment for a castrated uterus
Oh, how I limp in my portraits
Every sterile night, I un-nurse the fetuses in the bones of my bed
and my eyes bleed drops of mirrors that speak to me
and the twisted breath of daily tragedy nails me
and I am hidden in my Nana, I breastfeed shadows
with the same loneliness that night pours inside me
and I paint myself without looking
Today I continue to be sad
as if I had died
looking at the fungi of depleted uranium
spreading through the bodies of children
while I listen to Tartini
as if he were a memorable man.
Today I continue to be barefoot
on my city’s streets
without friends, and no one
to wait for me at home.
My loneliness is so deep
that I sit and listen to birdsong,
and no longer want to be here.
There’s nothing removing my annoyance,
nothing allowing me to relive my love.
Bio: Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. His collections of Tanka, For the Men to Come (2014), and From Life to Life (2014) were released by Amazon. He’s a two time Pushcart nominee and a four time Best of the Web nominee. His poems have been publish in over four hundred journals and anthologies.
Street Art 1: Bruges, Belgium
Street Art 2: Shoreditch, London, UK
Street Art 3: Shoreditch, London, UK
Street Art 4: Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel, London, UK
Street Art 5: Brussels, Belgium
Street Art 6: Lisbon, Portugal
Bio: Olivier Schopfer lives in Geneva, Switzerland. He likes to capture the moment in haiku and photography. His work has appeared in The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2014 as well as in numerous online and print journals such as Acorn, bottle rockets, DailyHaiga, Failed Haiku, Frogpond,Gnarled Oak, Modern Haiku, Otoliths, Presence, Right Hand Pointing, SonicBoom, Under the Basho & Up the Staircase Quarterly. He also blogs athttp://olivierschopferracontelesmots.blog.24heures.ch/.
Kiss My Feet
Why do I sit here, sit in this room with its heavy drapes blocking the sun, my feet on the thick and dusty carpet, the sagging ornate lamps flickering? It’s a big yet claustrophobic room, and I am listening to a young man I barely know sing wretched out of tune songs, and recite self-absorbed, crappy poems.
What do I know of him? He comes once a week and buys the cheapest mass market paperbacks at the bookstore where I work. He knows I am a writer. I’ve shown him a few of my books on the shelves while I pointed out different sections of the store, but he’s never picked up a book of mine and looked inside, and yet now he expects me to sit and listen as he croons and recites for hours on a Friday afternoon while his wife’s at work.
“I am not made for the money-grubbing world,” he tells me between reciting the poems he has stacked on the piano chair. “I’m so lucky Mary loves and cares for me. We were high school sweethearts and she moved to Dallas from Big Spring for her career. Ten years later I was in Big Spring Hospital and she came back and rescued me from that horrid place of crazies and brought me to Dallas to be with her.”
I am thinking, as he turns his back and returns to pounding the keys and singing his wretched songs, O it is great that he can make his art. The space to create, what a wonderful gift from his wife! I too have struggled to create, and been blessed with moments where I could write my stories and poems.
But this moment, now, is excruciating. I came for lively conversation, for the sharing of enthusiasms and ideas. I did not think it would be just the two of us. A home is not a theatre, a place for a one-man show. I came for interchange, not to be subjected to a display of egotism. Poor guy. I may be his first and only audience. I sense what's happening could be an attempt at seduction, to awe me into compliance and bed. I’m forty-five. What is he? Twenty-five?
When he’s finally done at the piano, I suggest we take a walk. The young man’s skin is pasty, and he’s got a paunch larger than mine. I wonder if he ever gets out much. I don’t feel right if I go too long without seeing trees, I tell him. I live outside the city fifty miles with my wife and kids. We keep goats, ducks, and chickens, and have this wonderful huge garden full of flowers and vegetables. Every day we all work together in the garden.
He and I walk through an asphalt parking lot in a hot bright son of late spring in Texas, toward a line of trees. We're walking side by side. He makes a joke and laughs, and as he laughs he reaches over and squeezes my ass. I jump back surprised by his move yet fairly certain a pass was coming soon or later. I wanted to be outside when it happened.
I am irritated. Perhaps I should be flattered that anyone would make a move on my skinny butt, but I am thinking, who is the published writer here, who is the one who has gotten publishers to take a risk on his writing and to pay to publish his books? Who is the one who knows something, and why am I tolerating this jerk who should be bowing down, ready to kiss my feet? What is wrong with me? Have I allowed my kindness and politeness to make me a fool?
I spot my car in the parking lot, pull out my keys, and grimace a smile, waving as I stride away.
Bio: Chuck Taylor does photography, children's magic shows, fiction, and poetry.
He is currently unemployed and is enjoying the trip as his canoe moves toward going over the waterfall.
When I think about my wife, I think about her scarf. She always wore it the same way: slightly loose around her neck with the left side just longer than the right. She took it everywhere with her. Everywhere…
A woman stands in front of me, the scarf is flowing from her black hair and singing between the other passengers on the train. It’s crimson roses bleed over the white fabric, shining against the harshness of the world around it.
The train screeches to a stop, and my breath jumps out of me. The passengers push and shove the woman from the train. Her hair sways around her as she gets dragged away by the swarm. My lips tighten, it can’t be. I’m stupid for thinking this. I should forget about her. Forget about that day…that day…
Fumes had burned my nostrils as I ran through every room of that house. I rummaged through closets, tore apart beds, flipped over couches. Everything was there: clothes, shoes, bags and even her wedding ring. Everything was there, everything but her.
A tin can sat in the middle of the kitchen, its sides were as black as the paper burning inside it. I pulled a piece from it, but it crumbled in my hands…
It can’t be her. Veins throb in the back of my hands. The woman walks to the exit, the scarf sways from her neck, waving at me. My hearts aches, I have to know.
I leap through the closing doors and push through the sea of people with polite apologies and a nod. I turn the corner. She’s there, swimming in the crowd. I follow at a distance hoping she can’t hear the pounding of my heart. But the gnawing question races through my brain.
Am I fooling myself? I haven’t seen her face yet. There are thousands of those scarves hanging around the city but still…What if it’s her?
I push through the crowd. She’s so close her hair nearly whips the taste from my mouth. She goes through the barriers and heads towards the exit. I follow; I hit my card down, but the barriers don’t move. I smash my card on the machine; nothing changes. My jaw hits the floor, I’m going to loose her. Again.
An inspector comes and fiddles with the machine; my blood boils and turns my throat into a furnace. Every move he makes takes an hour, clocks tick away in my ears. Is this how it ends?
Sweat pours from my brow as she reaches the exit and turns the corner. My knees shake, but I hold myself up. This can't be. Not again. Not again. My heart fires up.
The words rip out of my mouth. “I have to know.”
I leap over the barriers, pushing past the stunned crowd and shouting inspector, and sprinting towards the exit.
The streets outside are packed. I have to find her. I barge through the waves of people towards the middle of the street avoiding the speeding cars. My heart is pounding in my chest; people’s eyes burn into me, but I don’t care. I’ll finder. My eyes scan the street. Where is she? The crowd runs in and out of shops, a couple fights to my side and an elderly man hurries after a bus. Where? My heart jerks into my throat, the scarf floats above the sea of people like a crimson-grey mist. She glances back just as she turns into a corner. It’s her.
I bite my lip and rage through the crowd shoving them aside as I dart around the corner. The world behind me evaporates. The street is long, dark and made of concrete with a bin in the middle. Spiders’ legs scurry up and down my legs. For every one step I take, ten bounce off the wall and back to me. Birds sing on the roofs above, but the street is empty.
My blood turns volcanic; ash sears my throat. She came here, I saw her. The world comes back to life and wreaks my ears. Voices scream at me. Where is she? Venom pumps through me. Cars roar through my stomach. Where is she? The street is dead, the birds above screech with laughter.
“WHERE IS SHE?”
I slam my heel into the bin. It flies through the air, smacks into the wall and hits the ground spewing muck over the floor. I storm back to the real world, how stupid can I get? But something stops me, pulls me back.
I walk over to it; there’s something in there, under the muck. I kick it aside and pick it up. A slow knife slides into my spine.
The fabric is soft, warm and gentle. The red roses sleep on the black thorns wrapped around it. My breath leaves me. This is it. I know it.
It’s the scarf.
Bio: Scott Douglas was born in the UK, but now lives and teaches in South Korea. He has had a piece of flash fiction published, The Smile, by Out Of the Gutter magazine and is looking for more places to publish his work. His work focuses on ideas of humanity and what it means to lose it. His influences range from Dashiell Hammett to China Mieville, and he is always looking for genres to write in and explore. You can find him at twitter.com/sdouglas86
#6 Leon and cats
Bio: Eugenia Hepworth Petty lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her photography has appeared on the cover of The Sun Magazine, and in books and journals in Spain, Italy and the US. Her third poetry chapbook,Instructions for the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, as are two poem-books from Richard Hansen's Poems-For-All Project. Analog photo galleries and a list of publishing credits can be found at:www.eugeniahepworth.com
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.