“I found them at an estate sale for five bucks,” Ophelia Chong explains as she shuffles through newspapers marked November 23, 1963. They are mostly papers from Los Angeles and have headlines like “ASSASSIN NAMED” and “HIGHLIGHTS IN LIFE AND PRESIDENCY OF JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY.” There’s even a simple headline of “MARTYR.” The papers are deep portals into simpler times with articles on the dangers of crosswalks, the sport of cheerleading, and typewriter classes, all of which are complicated by an American tragedy: the loss of a president. Ophelia is using these newspapers as the basis for a letterpressing project that she has been working on, one that meditates on America, tragedy, conspiracy, and violence.
KCRW lured me back to Apogee Studios in Santa Monica this past Friday with the promise of seeing yet another amazing band in remarkably intimate proximity. Vampire Weekend was fresh from selling out the Fox Theater in Pomona the night before. KCRW’s Berkeley Street Sessions offer a few lucky music aficionados the chance to see bands brimming with talent, amid only 100 or so others (capacity at the Fox Theater is 2,000).
Vampire Weekend, the wildly popular 4-man set is touring ahead of their third full length album release, Modern Vampires of the City. Their second album was heavily influenced by their time spent in California, but it looks like they’re taking us back to their NYC roots for Modern Vampires. To promote the album, VW released two music videos for their song Step and Diane Young (don’t miss the slowly burning Saabs).
Just south of Santa Monica Boulevard on the west side of Fairfax sits IKO IKO, a gallery and store that offers a curious array of clothing, furniture, sculpture, home goods, art, and jewelry. Kristin Dickson-Okuda and Shin Okuda create and curate an experience “underlining texture, process, and innovation,” resulting in goods that are esoteric yet utilitarian, enigmatic yet inventive.
Painter Lisa Solberg has quite a remarkable ability to capture a blurriness in her paintings. The LA based artist makes abstract mixed media pieces that look like everything from blurred floral still lives to photos of the countryside taken as you are speeding down the highway. They’re remarkably bright when she wants them to be and moody when she wants them to be: Solberg has a talent for creating paintings that are as varied as the mediums she puts into them.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I lived in Franklin Village and would walk to work every day by going West on Franklin, South on Vine, East on Hollywood, and finally South on Seward to arrive at my office. I loved these walks because I got to see the city and watch it change around me every single day. The biggest thing I was keeping tabs on was the slowly constructing W Hollywood complex. I wasn’t an expert on the area nor was I attempting to make a projection on the part of town but I did know that this building was going to be very important: it would elevate the area surrounding it into something much nicer than what I was seeing on my walk to and from work.