A Hateful Child on a Night Watch Spree

1987; aged 15.

1987; aged 15. At one point, I was prescribed so much Lithium that I referred to myself as the “Human Salt-Lick.”

(This is an edited memoir excerpt that I had originally posted as a note some time ago on FB and had also been previously posted on a website devoted to spirituality and recovery. I wrote this four and half years ago in an attempt to summon my precise mindset during my 14th and 15th years, after being diagnosed with having Bipolar Disorder. At that time in my life, I was prone to these nightly walks that were as senseless as they were somehow mandatory. Looking back, I think I was simply in a manic state and maybe that constant motion helped me keep one step ahead of the pain I could never seem to elude. If the writing or sentiment seems like that of an adolescent, then I have succeeded, for that is the very voice I was trying to both resurrect and reconcile in this piece.)

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Kissing the Goat

Ouija Boards, Acid and Retinol Cream

baphomet11 Baphomet Pentagram

(What follows is my first memoir piece for STAREHOUSE, chronicling some of the highs and lows of my spiritual and mental journey of the past 25+ years, however real or imagined. I had previously published parts of this as a note on Facebook. I have changed the names of all parties involved; the rest is all true – or at least what I believed to have happened to me.)

A spiritual awakening implies that previously in my life, I was not awake. I had fallen asleep, gradually at first through detached, selfish behavior and then more directly through a series of increasingly expensive, self-induced chemically tuned lullabies. I had removed myself from all of the work and all of the play, having little time or patience for other people and even less for a positive, spiritual life. God became a vacancy sign, and then gradually read “Closed for Business”.

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Temporary Residence

Home is where the art is with “The Apartment Exhibition”

[Installation shot of the living room of "The Apartment Exhibition." All photos by Laura Evans.]

[Installation shot of the living room of “The Apartment Exhibition.” All photos by Laura Evans.]

Five local creative types are putting space to good use. Curated by Staci Bu Shea, “The Apartment Exhibition” features individual and collaborative work by Thony Aiuppy, Sterling Cox, Lily Kuonen and Edison William. Located in Cox’s 500 square foot, mother-in-law apartment behind his Avondale home, “The Apartment Exhibition” features over 30 pieces that touch on concepts of cohabitation, tenancy and ownership as well as deeper, provocative ideas such as nostalgia, impermanence and belonging. Continue reading

Duo Exchange

Tony Rodrigues and Mark George join forces for an upcoming show


The friendship of Tony Rodrigues and Mark George was initially formed over the bond of making visual art. The two met in 1991while still in their late teens and early twenties, creating collages and assemblages that were fueled by their shared love of the DIY ethos of art-fueled entities like punk rock and Dadaism. Since then, Rodrigues and George have each enjoyed respective success by exploring their highly individual approaches. Rodrigues reappropriates found imagery of the past century and creates canvases by juxtaposing those same signifiers into a highly personal visual vocabulary that can be disturbing and playful, sometimes in the same composition. Along with spouse Wendy C. Lovejoy, Rodrigues has also created the popular line of TACT apparel that brings his eye-engaging sense of design to the world of fashion. Using greenhouse roofing material as his de facto canvas, George paints haunting, Neo-Pop art portraits in acrylics; his pieces can resemble road signs from a bygone era or surveillance snapshots that give the audience the sense of being voyeurs and witnesses to secretive, intimate exchanges. Yet despite their separate endeavors over the years, Rodrigues and George have invariably taken the time to work in cooperation and share ideas. These opportunities have been a chance for the two old friends to blow off steam, encourage one another and chart their growth from two art-enthralled teenaged punk rockers into bona fide, well-respected visual artists. Continue reading

Deep in the Woods

Sarah Emerson explores the darker ground in her engaging landscapes

["The Overlook," 48 x 60, acrylic and rhinestones on canvas]

[“The Overlook,” 48 x 60, acrylic and rhinestones on canvas.]

Before his death in 1889 at the age of 44, the British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins had devoted his short life to traversing what he called the “outscape” and “inscape” of being, celebrating the natural world around him while traveling deep into the shifting lands of his own interior terrain and recording the experience of those collective journeys.

In his poem “Nondum” (Latin for “not yet”), Hopkins ruminates on a world that is eternally in creation while seemingly frozen in its own lifelessness, a landscape both mystifying as it is morbid:

“We see the glories of the earth

But not the hand that wrought them all:

Night to a myriad worlds give birth,

Yet like a lighted empty hall

Where stands no host at door or hearth

Vacant creation’s lamps appal.”

Over the course of nine verses, Hopkins describes a place of seasons with changeful moods, “chaotic floods,” where voices moan among the reeds and “prayer seems lost in desert ways.” It is a world of shadow taunting light, where faith and direction are swallowed up like sunlight hitting the moon. Throughout the poem, Hopkins calls out to a creator who has long since ignored his creation, while drawing us a map of a boundary-less land, a ghost town now vacant of even its phantoms.

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Shape Shifter

Lily Kuonen forges a hybrid breed of multimedia ideas with her “Playntings”

["Want" by Lily Kuonen.]

[“Want” by Lily Kuonen.]

While some artists might revisit their ideas, Lily Kuonen revisits, re-addresses, re-thinks and re-assembles both her ideas and very work in pieces she calls “Playntings.” Using familiar raw materials such as canvas and paint, the 28 year old Kuonen also assimilates tools such as vise grips and lumber into her pieces, blurring lines between studio/piece, installation/presentation and, ultimately, art and artist. Kuonen’s work is almost hyper-contemporary in the sense that she is perpetually changing and “upgrading” her art in an ongoing methodology and approach that she describes as “repurposing.” A singular (in her own words) genealogy is formed as Kuonen continually reassigns materials from old pieces into the new, her work forever evolving from the ancestral lineage of prior concepts and experimental approaches. Continue reading

Current and Crucial

Upcoming three day exhibit at Flagler College presents inventive new work from students

The Oldest City continues to offer some great, new art. And much of that sustained and ongoing creative force is being produced by the art and design students at Flagler College. The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum presents the school’s latest collection of work by both senior B.F.A. and B.A. students over the course of three days. The opening reception is held on Thursday, April 18 from 5-9 p.m.; the show is also on display on Friday, April 19 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 48 Sevilla St. in St. Augustine. Thursday’s opening night reception also features a performance by local musical act Queen Beef. The contact number for the museum is 826-8530. Continue reading

Green Mind

Jim Draper reflects on the experience of “Feast of Flowers”

[“Ogeechee Lime,” oil on canvas, 72  x 109, photographed by Doug Eng.]

[“Ogeechee Lime,” 72 x 109, oil on canvas. Photographed by Doug Eng.]

Jim Draper is right on time. Meeting me in the Stein Gallery at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens on our agreed upon appointment of 1:30 p.m., Draper strolls into the large space where his multi-disciplinary project “Feast of Flowers,” has been on display since mid-December of last year. “Sorry I’m late,” he says. After I assure him that he is right on the money, we sit in two black leather chairs that face his recent work while also providing us with a fitting view of the museum’s award-winning gardens and the St. Johns River. It is an ideal setting to speak with Draper, as his twin loves – painting and the outdoors – are both within sight of one another. Two iPads are placed on the table between us and a collection of hard-shell binders are stacked upright against the wall. The tablet computers contain copies of the digital publication which coincides with the exhibit; the spiral bound books feature dozens of photographs that Draper took during his many excursions into the natural world, the very source and place that feeds his work. The 25 recent paintings in the exhibit are large-scale oils that both celebrate the flora and fauna of Florida while also warning of their possible passing. The title “Feast of Flowers” is a translation of the Spanish “Pascua de Florida,” the name chosen by Ponce De Leon in 1513 when he and his fellow explorer-conquistadors “discovered” the very much already-inhabited land that became known as Florida. On this 500th anniversary of Ponce De Leon’s arrival, Draper explores these ideas of “feasting,” devouring, conquest and commodification throughout the exhibit.

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Immanence and Imagery

Chip Southworth continues his lifelong exploration of art with faithful strokes

["Anxiety," mixed media on panel, 59 x 72]

[“Anxiety,” mixed media on panel, 59 x 72]

One roadblock I have experienced in writing about art is the same impasse encountered when I am looking at that very thing: distance. My own personal volition in creating this blog was to celebrate and explore not only the arts in various forms but also to try and reveal the intentions, philosophies, histories and hopefully very lives of the equally diverse people who choose to create. I guess what I have been seeking is some kind of articulation of intimacy.

This entire STAREHOUSE experiment was based on a few very encouraging conversations with people I had either known from my past or had the good fortune to encounter during my brief tenure as the Arts and Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly. After amicably resigning from the paper, folks like Staci Bu Shea, Tony Rodrigues and Rob DePiazza in particular were supportive to the point of demanding that I at least attempt to aim my writing directly into the blogosphere and I am publicly indebted to these three, as well as others who pushed me forward during a weird transition in my life. A short list of local artists I had wanted to write about soon became a longer list and I am as grateful for the small audience that reads these pieces as I am for the gleeful sense of freedom in handpicking who I wish to feature. And that list, penciled in a spiral bound notebook, thankfully continues to grow. The fact that they have let me and my questions into their studios, homes and humored me with some oppressively long phone conversations says as much about their generosity of spirit as it does about my own skills at lock-picking the hearts and minds of artists.

I say all this as a possibly overwrought disclaimer that my lack of neutrality in writing about Chip Southworth is indicative as much of my affection for the person and his art as it is my certain admission that I am still and forever not a journalist; just another person who loves art.

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The Nature of Parable

Photographer Masha Sardari reveals a realm of allegory and dream

["with a bear by the hearth," 2013]

[“with a bear by the hearth,” 2013]

The environmental landscapes of Masha Sardari are inhabited by waif-like women who are posed like ghosts caught in a sidelong glance, a snapshot glimpsed only in the dusk of the subconscious mind. An otherwise familiar realm of flora and fauna is seamlessly merged with a unique approach to rendering the female form; all anchored by narratives that touch on fairy tales and the darker emotional dominions of the human experience.

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