Los Angeles

Bare Bodies, Mud Baths, and Beyond: Wet in Retrospect

In the late 1970s, bohemian hipsters on L.A.’s west side were getting Wet. Despite its small circulation, it became highly influential among local artists, designers, and architects. And now, “Making Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing,” provides a sampling of its spirit. Leonard Koren admits in his book that when he launched Wet in...

Chip Kidd's Vertical Adventures: Talking Book Design and Publishing Smut

“Penis!” It was the first thing out of the book designer Chip Kidd’s mouth, and without a moment’s hesitation. He and Gary Panter had just been asked: if you could create a magazine of your own, what would you call it? The Pee-Wee’s Playhouse designer was more circumspect, eventually considering the title “Smurfy Beaver Shots.”...

Black Dahlia Murder, Part 2: The Victim’s Makeup

Wrapping up my interview with crime historian Joan Renner, we delve deeper into an unsolved murder mystery. Joan explores her theory that the victim’s Black Dahlia persona began when she was still alive. Read part one, with more details of the Dahlia investigation, here. Our conversation picks up with Joan describing her passion for...

Anarchy in L.A.: The Sex Pistols' Designer, Reloaded

Never mind the Shepard Fairey criminal contempt conviction, here’s Jamie Reid. The designer who branded the Sex Pistols so indelibly by ripping across Her Majesty’s face now has his first solo West Coast exhibition at  Shepard’s Subliminal Projects Gallery. Shepard was still living in San Diego when we first met in 1999 in Silver...

Black Dahlia Murder: the Crime, the Cosmetics, and the Folksinger

  So I’m at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to scope this 1933 Stanwyck flick about broads behind bars, but before it starts this dame gets up in front, name Joan Renner. Says her passion is historic crime and vintage cosmetics: sounds to me like a lethal combination. Then she gives the whole audience...

Pop Art, Politics, and Critiques of Contemporary Culture

  Popular culture, capitalist critique, and female empowerment are among the topics of this, the last of a three-part feature on “Pop and Politics,” one of the programs at the 100th annual College Art Association conference in Los Angeles. Part one, my interview with Anthony E. Grudin about Andy Warhol and comic books, is...

Finally "Seeing" Street Art

Although my eyes first began digesting what I now know to be “street art” in the mid-1990s in San Francisco, it wasn’t until a trip to Paris in the Fall of 2009 and a move to Los Angeles a couple months later that I began tuning into the endless and ever-changing gallery of inspired...

The Pleasures, Politics, and Proto-Feminisms of Pop Art

In 1963, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique drew attention to the stifling state of American womanhood, and Roy Lichtenstein painted what might be considered a visual analogue: “Drowning Girl”, who’d rather be engulfed by tidal waves than call Brad for help. It was also the year Andy Warhol began his grungy, frightening Race Riot...

Politics of Pop: Warhol’s Working Class SuperHero

  Anthony E. Grudin cares about the working class. He also cares – a lot – about Andy Warhol. Not the later Warhol, who pandered to high society celebs, but the younger man, with one foot headed for the galleries and the other still hustling for commercial illustration gigs. Anthony, an assistant professor of...

6:01 PST. Gidra vs. the American War Machine

Remember those radical underground rags of the late 1960s? The East Village Other. The Berkeley Barb. The L.A. Free Press. Gidra. Wait… Gidra? Wasn’t that a monster in those dumb Godzilla movies? Yes, but just because he tried to lay waste to Japan and the rest of civilization, Gidra wasn’t all bad. Which is...