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“Color and light are basically all I think about when I’m painting,” says Seth Armstrong. Working with oil paints on wood, the Los Angeles-based artist renders the sloping hills of his native California county in bold, saturated tones. Depicting the staggered houses and vegetation in the glow of golden hour or just after sunrise, Armstrong balances both hyperrealism and more sweeping, gestural strokes. He includes the occasional candy-colored hue to veil the densely populated landscape—the artist notes that small details can be difficult to perceive when not viewing the works in person—with a layer of magic. “The paintings do become, for me, more than a depiction of light and color,” he writes. “But that’s a personal relationship we have.”
A limited-edition print of “Purple Mountain” releases on April 12 through Unit Drops, and Armstrong will have a solo show at Unit London this fall. Check out his Instagram for a larger collection of his paintings and glimpses into his home studio, where he works alongside ceramicist Madeleine Pellegren. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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People’s Pottery Project (PPP) has a simple mission: “to empower formerly incarcerated women, trans, and nonbinary individuals and their communities through the arts.” The value of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, though, reaches far beyond the ceramics studio where its members carefully sculpt and glaze dinnerware to sell from its warehouse.
At the heart of PPP is mutual aid, a form of community support and solidarity that rapidly expanded at the onset of the pandemic but that has a rich history in political movements. The initiative is multi-faceted—it currently employs three people full-time and two part-time, and formerly incarcerated folks can drop in to help in the production process and be paid for their contributions. Depending on COVID-19 guidance and the ability to meet in-person, PPP also hosts community classes. As restrictions lift in the coming months, the organization plans to expand these offerings as it strives to stabilize its income and connect with more artists.
The project began when co-founder Molly Larkey hosted free pottery workshops for women, trans, and non-binary folks, many of whom were experiencing homelessness. “It was immediately apparent that people who came to class needed to be paid for their time: not only to value their creative contribution toward the organization that was starting to take form but as a way to put money in their pockets,” Larkey says. Many of the gatherings simultaneously sparked conversations about job opportunities and housing options, which offered additional support beyond the group’s creative practice.
Two attendees in these early days were Ilka Perkins and her wife, Dominique, women Larkey knew through her volunteer efforts with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, an organization that works tirelessly to have people who are incarcerated be released through commutation, parole board support, and legislative reform. Larkey offered Perkins a job as an artist assistant prior to Perkins’ release from the California Institution for Women in 2020. Soon after, the two co-founded PPP.
Today, the organization sells 10-inch plates and bowls in three sizes—every item is made entirely by hand so the pale blues and earthen tones vary on each dish—with plans to create new products and special packaging that details the issues communities are facing. These include DROP LWOP (Drop Life Without the Possibility of Parole) and SURVIVED & PUNISHED, two abolitionist campaigns that current PPP employee Susan Bustamante, who previously was serving a life sentence, is involved in.
Many of the fully functional ceramics are sold for $50, a price point that aligns with PPP’s goals. The idea is “to share our beauty and creativity, to employ as many formerly incarcerated people as we can in meaningful creative work and make our ceramics accessible to anyone and everyone,” Larkey says. “We are hopeful that our art will also function as advocacy so that people learn more about the issues affecting us and our loved ones who are still incarcerated.”
As for future endeavors, Larkey is optimistic about the possibilities of artists getting involved in mutual-aid efforts as a way to support their neighbors. “There is a real need for creative skills but the most important thing—and I can’t stress this enough—is to be involved with a community over a period of time,” she says. “The groundwork has been already laid by the people most impacted by systemic oppressions such as the prison industrial complex, and they will be the ones who know what is most needed.”
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50,000-Square-Foot Garden Populates New Workspace, Making It the Densest Urban Forest in Los Angeles
Designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, a Los Angeles workspace has popped up in a formerly empty parking lot in Hollywood. The recently opened SecondHome Hollywood boasts a 50,000-square-foot garden of 6,500 trees and plants and 700 tons of soil and vegetation. It is Los Angeles’s densest urban forest and is also home to 112 native species.
The Hollywood location, which is the first in the United States, contains sixty yellow-roofed office pods. It also encompasses the Anne Banning Community House, a ’60s building designed by prominent architect Paul Williams who is known for defining much of Los Angeles’s architectural aesthetic throughout the 20th century. (via Jeroen Apers)
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The places where organic growth and human-made structure meet draws the eye of Los Angeles-based photographer Sinziana Velicescu. In her series A Tree Grows In…, Velicescu documents trees and shrubs growing alongside, or in spite of, pastel-hued buildings and fences in the Los Angeles area. Some, like the door-flanking cypresses above, dwarf the built landscape. In others, tightly trimmed topiaries mirror the industrial shapes of rooftop HVAC systems.
“Part of my process is walking or driving around neighborhoods in and around the greater Los Angeles area and coming across these scenes spontaneously,” Velicescu shares with Colossal. “The trees I seek out are ones that have a personality, so much so that they could almost replace human subjects. I’m drawn mostly to the trees that feel trapped by the urban landscape in which they find themselves or are trying to overcome their surroundings in some way.”
The photographer is currently working on Fabricating Desert, a project that explores the fabricated relationship between landscape and architecture in the desert Southwest. You can see more of Velicescu’s photographs on Instagram and Tumblr, and find prints of her images on Uprise Art. (via Ignant)
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Global metropolises known for their 24/7 energy glimmer around the clock in captivating time slice videos by Dan Marker-Moore. The skylines of Los Angeles, Kowloon, London, and Shanghai move through dawn, daytime, and dusk in precise slivers that capture specific moments of natural and man-made light. In an interview with Adorama, the photographer explains that he usually uses between 20 and 40 unique images to strike a balance between providing noticeable visual shifts and containing the busyness. The resulting images convey the endless motion of city life while also forming unusual geometric shapes that center around specific architectural details like LA’s Griffith Observatory or London’s Big Ben clocktower.
Marker-Moore, who is based in Los Angeles, works as a photographer, cinematographer, producer, and director. In addition to his vast trove of personal and editorial projects, he also has a decade of experience in animation and motion graphics for commercials. Marker-Moore is passionate about the technical aspects of still and moving images, and shares extensive notes on his blog and Lightroom tutorials on YouTube. You can see more from Marker-Moore on Instagram, and also check out his worldwide pay phone documention.
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Creative Director and photographer Dylan Schwartz‘s point-of-view is high above the cities he photographs, capturing the bridges, sports complexes, and tips of high rises from the cockpit of a helicopter. Most of Schwartz’s images feature his hometown of LA as the subject, showcasing views from Hollywood to Chinatown during the hazy moments right before dusk and dawn.
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