Pancakes and Booze Art Show
I had a great opportunity a couple of weeks ago to see an art show featuring young, local, up and coming artists. Called Pancakes and Booze, these shows features all different kinds of art, live music, clothing, jewelry, body painting, and of course booze and free pancakes. This was one of the more fun nights I’ve had in a while. Pancakes and Booze shows occur all across North America and this year they’re expanding ever further to Berlin, London, Paris, Melbourne, and Bangkok. Each show features young, local artists, who are not only selling their works but also willing to talk to you about their art and just having a good time in general. There were over 50 artists at this particular show with a very diverse set of mediums, styles, and inspirations from pop art to street art and everything in between. While there was an almost overwhelming amount of art work on display, I chose to highlight six artists whose work I really enjoyed and who graciously spoke with me about their practice.
The first artist I spoke with was Ari Krasner. She described her style as a mix of pop art and street art. She uses spray paint, stencils, and some secret methods. I asked her a few questions about her process and influences and this is what she said,
“There are a lot of influences in my art, starting with my mother and moving randomly from there – but I find most of my inspiration comes from the anonymous work of the thousands of street artists around the globe; From Žilda and Dede to Icy & Sot to the massive group of unknown artists trying to start a movement through art. I have spent many an hour of my life randomly walking the side streets of NYC, DC, Rome and Tel Aviv – looking at some of the most unique, funny, politically charged and heart breaking pieces. Graffiti is by its nature momentary; it comes and goes as buildings do, at the whim of property owners and weather and other, newer artistic pieces meant to showcase the new cause of that time. It is presented to us as anything from a brief thought to a fully-fledged project, spanning years and places or appearing just once, hidden in a corner. I have been lucky enough to find in person some of these fleeting pieces which have been able to move me and influence me. I draw my inspiration from all the street art – except my work is not on a wall but on canvas. I specialize in spray paint and mixed media portraiture. It’s the mirror of the soul or so they say; the human face tells a story and I would be most happy to paint yours.”
I just loved how detailed and unique each of her pieces were, especially Frederick Douglas. That fact that she’s able to bring so much life into the faces of her subjects, especially with spray paint, was impressive. For more information about Ari, including her portfolio, click here.
The second artist I spoke with was Zarina Zed. Zarina’s work seemed to be the most “classical” in style of all the artists. One of her paintings even reminded me of the Dutch Cabinet Still Life style. She usually works with oil paints and “dabbles” in watercolors. Originally from Uzbekistan she’s now makes DC her home base. This is what she had to say about her work,
“I like to walk around a lot, and I'm a big fan of cities - so I find urban life pretty inspiring, as well as urban everyday settings and concepts. How people behave and feel in certain situation, the atmosphere created, things we choose to ignore (like all being on the metro together and not talking to each other). I'm a big nerd, so I'm interested in noting and pointing out the contradictions and absurdities. For example: one piece I’m currently working on is a scene from a DC club where an older, clearly conservative woman was hired to be a bathroom attendant, handing paper towels to drunk girls in little-to-no clothes. It’s the bottom piece here. I am still developing my "thing" - stylistically and thematically, so I'm sure what I'm doing will change. I primarily work with oil - really enjoy the application process, and it's great for color (though my pieces tend to be gray overall, I mix a lot of colors).”
Zarina Zed (left), Ari Krasner (right)
Each piece was expressive. She did a phenomenal job with eyes, conveying depth of character and emotion. To learn more about Zarina and see her portfolio, click here.
The next two artists I spoke with happened to be brother and sister: Justin and Lulu Canja. Justin was the mixed media specialist of the show. His artistic eye was amazing; some of his works blew me away with how he took something small or something that I would never think could be turned into art and created an image both beautiful and grand. I also really enjoyed his range of themes and he had some of the more poignant social and political commentary works of art at the show. This is what he had to say about his process and style,
“Seeking out old magazines from the 40's through the 70's at the bottom of an old box gives me a rush like I'm uncovering a part of history. In these magazines I turn the pages to find advertisements for the "newest" GE stove, images of the inside of Apollo 13, and President Kennedy giving his inaugural address. These emotional historical images inspire me to create artwork not only to share what I'm interested in but also to give myself a little adult education. The decade's fashion, music, and pop culture referenced in these magazines speak to who I am now. I use images of women in go-go boots because of my love for fashion, the Beatles landing in my mother’s hometown of Manila and photos of wars past because of my father, as my art medium. The idea of the past's view of what was modern really drives me to visually relate what once was to what is now. I browse my magazine collections often for new inspirations. I will flip to a page that has a jarring image or catchy headline and my mind will react to it. I'll tear it out and proceed to flip pages until I find relatable images that have a common theme or message like an ad of 1950's man sweating in a business suit leaning against an outdated air conditioner paired with the headlines about the economy plummeting. The historical pictures alone have stories and emotional value but by adding words to them I can change the purpose of what the image was originally intended to portray. This play on words, joined with antiquated images, allows me to tell modernized stories with different tones of emotions. I enjoy the playful juxtaposition of old and new, black and white to color and severity to humor because I have grown to learn that you cannot take history at face value if you've never lived it personally.”
Lulu’s pen and ink drawings stood out as well. The precision of her lines and wonderful shading techniques reminded me of a friend of mine that I grew up with who is now a professional artist in Manhattan. Her subjects were very diverse and displayed a comprehensive understanding of spatial relationships. Unfortunately, I did not get much of a chance to speak with her and ask her some questions but I still felt her works merited highlighting. More of her work can be see here and on her Facebook page.
Camille St. Regis
Camille St. Regis was the fifth artist I spoke with. Camille’s work may have been the most colorful in the entire show. I loved how she took traditional subjects (such as portraits or landscapes) and turned them into color-filled creations. Like Zarina, Camille expertly portrayed the emotion of her subjects in eyes and facial expressions. I really enjoyed speaking with her as she had a unique take on what inspires her and how she likes to portray her subjects.
Camille St. Regis
“Having the opportunity to inspire and motivate others is what inspires me, as “meta” as that might sound. My portraits depict my subjects at their most confident, whether that means that they are smiling and looking directly at the viewer or situated serenely within their element—on the beach at sunset, for example. With my portraits, I strive to capture positive moments in people’s lives. While I always accept commissioned projects, I am now attempting to revive a project that I began in college. The project, “Portraits of the Future: Dreams in Paint,” involves interviewing and painting youth who are struggling with disabilities, drug addictions, and other obstacles in what they consider their ideal futures. The idea behind this project is that visualizing dreams makes them feel more attainable, so I aim to offer the youths with whom I work a clearer vision of what their lives could be someday. I plan on finding new subjects in the DC area next. My long-term goal is to become an art therapist so I can continuously and profoundly help individuals overcome challenging circumstances or mindsets through artistic expression. I want to offer others the chance to discover that translating one’s emotions and aspirations onto a canvas make them tangible, expressible, and less intimidating.”
Camille St. Regis
I hope Camille is able to fulfill her dream of becoming and art therapist and helping kids. If you’d like to see her portfolio and contact information, click here.
The final artist I’d like to focus on is Randy Heart. Randy created Parker Cloud and his friend Billow. These characters are meant to serve as positive inspirations to school children in the seemingly negative times we currently live in with messages stressing positivity, love, respect and many similar themes. What stood out about Randy’s work was his uses of colors and themes that showed happiness or other positive emotions. Many artists at Pancakes and Booze explored darker subjects, but both Heart’s and St. Regis’ work stood out as uniquely upbeat. Randy spoke with me about his message, style, and mission.
“Parker Cloud was inspired by my first up and coming book, “Directions Up Please!” Parker navigates through his neighborhood determined to get directions to the sky. Parker Cloud serves as a euphoric dream leader in his classroom and neighborhood. His imagination is vastly colorful. He's curious, imaginative, and persistent. He's an aspiring entrepreneur that takes initiative to encourage and inspire his peers, but no one pays him any attention except the clouds. They're committed fans to his teachings and mindset. Billow is a funny, energetic, charismatic talking cloud that serves as Parkers motivator. Positivity is important because positivity is what the people need! "A positive attitude awakens inner strength, energy, motivation, and initiative." We're living in destitute times, the people need encouragement and the children need imagination. I created Parker Cloud because I wanted to create something meaningful that promotes friendship and love, getting people into better spirits. My artistic style is simple; I use colors that impact emotion. Red, black, white, and all shades of blue are my staple colors. My mediums are acrylic paints, markers, and spray paint.”
Fifteen percent of the money made from Parker Cloud sales goes back to DC schools in the form of school supplies. You can see more of Randy’s work and learn more about his mission here, or follow him on Instagram at parkercloud.
More local Pancakes and Booze shows are coming this summer: Baltimore on August 1st and the next DC show on August 20th. I want to thank all the artists at the show for their talents and these six for spending the time talking with me about their practices. Support your local art scene by checking out the next Pancakes and Booze as it provides a platform for emerging artists to exhibit and engage.