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Monday, September 10, 2018

July & August 2018

July and August were a blur of art work and traveling followed by a short period of decompression. I basically read/watched/played nothing in July and then overcompensated by doing nothing but those things for about a week and half in August. So here is a combo run-down of some things I enjoyed this summer...


MOVIES

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT
The word that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe this movie is BONKERS. In usual MI fashion, the plot is basically just a flimsy delivery device for super cool action sequences, and they really outdid themselves with Fallout. The finale involves a fight with/in/around helicopters while in mid-air. As soon as I left the theatre I was animatedly recounting the insanity and utter bonkers-ness of this sequence in particular. Plus, it's one of the few movies where Henry Cavill seemed appropriately cast. So I definitely recommend seeing this if you are in the mood for some spy nonsense and rad stunts. 

Other highlights include LOVE, SIMON which had me happy-sobbing, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN which was so god damn cute, and TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE which was fluffy and sweet. I also had a chance to see all three extended edition Lord of the Rings films in the theatre with my mom and dad, which was really wonderful. 

VIDEO GAMES

RUNNER 2
Since I've been so busy with art/life stuff, I haven't had much time to really dig into any games this summer. But I did occasionally find myself with 15 minutes where I needed an art break and I used that time to finally finish Runner 2. I love this series to bits and always get a great sense of accomplishment when I'm able to perfectly dance my way through a particularly hard level.



BLOODBORNE
I've never considered myself to be a particularly skilled gamer; I resort to button mashing more than I'd like to admit. But for some reason, I decided to try out Bloodborne and....I like it? Yeah man, I'm surprised too. I've only made it through the first three bosses so far but I think I might play more when I have free time again. 

BOOKS
I ended up reading two long-ish books in July and August that I didn't particularly like, which meant less time for books that I would actually recommend. On the plus side, I've recently gone on a bit of a romance bender (as I tend to do when I am stressed), so I will definitely have lots of good recommendations to share next month. 

Mortal Engines is a surprisingly dark adventure/coming of age story set in a grimy future where the big cities of the world have become giant, roaming monstrosities that move around and swallow up smaller townships and settlements. I'm not sure if I'll sit down and read any of the other books in the series, but this one was good. 

I would also recommend the romances A GENTLEMAN NEVER KEEPS SCORE by Cat Sebastian and THE LION AND THE CROW by Eli Easton. Gentleman is a fun period romance which pairs up a socially outcast, emotionally scarred victorian dandy and an ex-prize fighter as they try to find a missing painting. The Lion and The Crow is a weird one for me; I didn't love the writing but found myself becoming rather invested in the characters anyway. What made this one memorable is that it follows the romance/relationship from beginning to literal end. Where most romance stories end with "and then they lived happily ever after", The Lion and The Crow actually follows the two main characters through old age and contented death. Yeah, obviously it made me cry. 

ART
The big exciting news from the art front was my August group show at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles. I was able to attend the opening and meet lots of great people. Plus, after the reception I went to dinner with a bunch of good friends and drank margaritas while being serenaded by a mariachi band in a room decorated with twinkle lights, painted portraits of celebrities, and a whole wall of dusty wine bottles. It was a memorable evening.


I am now well into another crazy busy month of art as I prepare for the LINCOLN ARTS FESTIVAL (September 22 & 23) and a two person show at Gallery 9 which opens in October. I'll have more details soon! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Paper Cut - Gallery1988


I've been mentioning this show for a while now and I now can finally share all the details! I will be joining Britni Brault, Cameron Garland, and Jackie Huang for a paper-themed art show at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles. The show runs August 3-18, with an opening reception on Friday, August 3rd (which I will be attending). The theme is loosely based around pop-culture from our childhoods, so I will have new pieces featuring Paddington Bear, Batman Returns, Return to Oz, Castle Greyskull, Cowboy Bebop, and more! *much excite*

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

June 2018

I didn't get up to a whole lot in June, since I have been steadily working on new collages for a Gallery1988 show in August and haven't had much free time. I did get a new tattoo though, and that was pretty darn exciting. I'll be posting again soon with more information about the upcoming show and some sneak peeks.



MOVIES

UPGRADE
I adore the work of screenwriter/actor Leigh Whannell (although some of his recent work has been too scary for me to watch), so I was very excited to see his first foray into directing. Upgrade is great fun - it's a bloody nod to the tropes of the action/horror/sci-fi genres with the twists and turns that Whannell does so well. Plus, it contains an excellent Saw-style montage (a "Sawntage" if you will). While this is definitely not going to appeal to everyone, if you have liked any Whannell's other screenwriting ventures (Saw I & II, Dead Silence, Insidious, etc.) I would recommend Upgrade.

BOOKS 

Since my brain has been so hyper-engaged with art stuff, I've mostly been reading romance books to help me relax and cheer me up when I need a stress break.

The premise: reluctantly famous rock star front man falls for a recovering addict who gave up his music career. It is total romance candy with angst and beautiful people smooching each other and I was SO INVESTED IN THIS BOOK. *sigh*

A modern, gender-swapped take on Sense and Sensibility that works a lot better than I expected. While the "main" romance seemed a bit underdeveloped, the characters and story were very well crafted and kept me engaged. 

These two books finish up Alisha Rai's Forbidden Hearts series, which I definitely recommend if you like modern romance stories. They have all of the ingredients of a good romance series: feuding families, forbidden entanglements, long simmering crushes, interesting protagonists, and plenty of steamy interludes. Wrong to Need You was probably my favorite of the bunch, but the whole series is worth reading. 

Wicked and the Wallflower is the first entry into Sarah MacLean's new Bareknuckle Bastards series and was a lot of fun to read. The hero is the bastard son of an evil duke, who makes a living as an ice merchant and not-so-secret crime lord (with a heart of gold, naturally) and smuggler. The heroine is a social pariah spinster who spends her time picking locks and sneaking out of the house. MacLean has mentioned recently that her writing style changed in the social and political wake of Trump's election and I have definitely noticed how important agency and enthusiastic consent has become in her books. There is never a sense of "she says no but she means yes" in these books. Both parties are vocal and clear about what they want and they take actions to achieve their goals. The book felt a smidge wobbly in places and rushed toward the end, but overall Wicked and The Wallflower was time well spent. 

This was my only non-romance selection in June and one of the reasons I dove so hard back into the comforting embrace of romance books. Because this one made me cry. A lot. The House of Impossible Beauties follows the fictionalized lives of the real-life House of Xtravaganza (included in the documentary Paris is Burning), a group of gay and trans youths creating their own family within the Harlem ball community. The members of Xtravaganza struggle through addiction, abuse, sex work, constant tragedies both big and small, and the rise of AIDS, all while trying to cling to hope and love and the possibility of a better life. It is a heartbreaking account of LGBTQA+ history and a really stark reminder of how a lot of things have changed and how some things have stayed the same.