News

Jeremy Fish in the San Francisco Weekly

 School of Fish

Jeremy and Jayde Fish have seen their artistic careers take off nearly in tandem. What’s next?
by Stephen Jackson

Jeremy-Fish-Jonathan-LeVine-Projects-1
(Photo by Daniel Dent)

Artist Jeremy Fish owns a Jonathan Adler lamp that appears to be made entirely out of white, ceramic boobs.

“That was a birthday gift from a friend during my single-dude days,” he says.

It’s the first thing I notice when I enter the massive studio Fish shares with his wife, Jayde, in their North Beach apartment, which lies at the end of a short winding staircase from the street entrance.

Jeremy’s salt-and-pepper beard is approaching ZZ Top status, and he’s wearing a custom-embroidered, brown monochrome Ben Davis jumpsuit.  The lighting is dim like the opening sequence of Masterpiece Theatre, and there’s stuff everywhere, but not in a messy way. Everything seems to have its place, like the organized chaos of a professor’s study.

One wall is home to a grid of paintings that depict hybrids of animals and automobiles. It’s a body of work he’s preparing for a show called Spirit Animals this summer at Jonathan LeVine Projects in Jersey City, N.J. I notice originals by California legends like Mike Giant and Todd Francis — who created the eagle logo for Antihero Skateboards — casually hung near workspaces about 15 feet apart from one another.

The whole place teems with art, as well it should: I’m standing in the shared studio of one of the most prolific artistic couples living within the city limits. The Fishes are still in love with San Francisco, reaffirming their vows to the municipality with each piece they create. Jeremy might be best-known for the large, pink bunny statue that used to greet those who entered the eastern edge of Lower Haight, and Jayde’s intricate illustrations have been featured in galleries across the city.

But the past two years have been a watershed period for each of them. In summer 2015, Jeremy was selected to be the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries Artist-in-Residence at City Hall — the first residency of its kind. He was awarded an office for roughly 100 days and tasked with producing 100 drawings to commemorate City Hall’s 100th anniversary. When the show opened, Mayor Ed Lee proclaimed Nov. 4 as “Jeremy Fish Day” in San Francisco.

And in December 2016, Jayde suddenly entered the world of international fashion when Gucci picked up a series of drawings from her first solo show, “In Dreams,” which creative director Alessandro Michele will use in the fashion house’s Spring/Summer 2017 line.

Jayde greets me with a friendly hug. While she’s known for her fashion sense — she often dons custom pieces by Al’s Attire in North Beach, or combinations of vintage and high-end brands — her around-the-house garb is notably less off-the-wall than her husband’s, whose crisp, baby-shit-brown jumpsuit is on the conservative side for a guy often seen around town wearing matching tops and bottoms plastered with photorealistic images of animals. Jayde’s cat, Mrs. Brown, clocks me from atop a space heater with a faux-vintage facade that keeps the perfect temperature for the wet, chilly weather.

Both Jeremy and Jayde have achieved celebrity status within the fringes of the established art community for some time, and Jeremy has become a cult figure in the skating industry for his tripped-out line work, often depicting tiny, somewhat morbid, pink bunnies. The image originated from the calling card of a skateboarding crew he created in the ’90s: The Silly Pink Bunnies.

Jeremy has also become the unofficial Mayor of North Beach, and it’s hard to walk 10 feet in San Francisco’s Little Italy without coming across his work. Much can be found at restaurants such as Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Golden Boy Pizza, Naked Lunch, Don Pisto’s, and Baonecci — all of which have bartered him free food for life. He also has a series of murals around North Beach that celebrate famous San Francisco personalities like Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner, and famed stripper Carol Doda. Jeremy Fish is in many ways a creative steward of San Francisco’s rich history, something he’s spent a great deal of time studying.

“North Beach is the most important neighborhood in San Francisco, culturally speaking,” Jeremy says. “Francis Ford Coppola, Larry Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Frida, and Diego are all connected to North Beach. Also, as we are both Italian as fuck, Jayde and I are trying to maintain the creative traditions and rebuild the cultural legacy of our neighborhood.”

Jeremy-Fish-Jonathan-LeVine-Projects-2
(Photo by Daniel Dent)

Jeremy and Jayde Fish are storytellers. Each has their own unique narrative behind how they’ve seeped so deeply into the city’s creative groundwater. Jeremy’s begins in 1994, when he first came to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. After growing up skateboarding in Saratoga Springs, N. Y., he made his pilgrimage to what was then the mecca of skating culture.

“I wasn’t skilled or competitive enough to try and pursue it professionally, but it was something I wanted to contribute to — or at least be close to, at that age,” he says.

He landed his dream job in 1997, working as assistant manager for Printime, the skateboard industry screenprint shop owned by Fausto Vitello, who published Thrasher and Slap, and eventually Juxtapoz — and who also owned the now-defunct Think Skateboards.

“I had a background in screenprinting, and had hoped to either work in graphics or printing — or both, which is exactly what happened,” Jeremy explains. “I couldn’t have been luckier. It wasn’t necessarily just that I was qualified — it was a timing thing. I just got super-lucky.”

“I had no graphic-design background at all, and still don’t,” he continues. “My entire graphic-design skill set came from working under illustrators and designers in the skateboard industry that did — like Todd Francis and guys like that. I considered that to be grad school. It was a real learning experience.”

Fish went on to become the art director at Think and a contributor at Juxtapoz, and he published a monthly, two-page illustration in Slap. He was still working full-time at Think in the early 2000s when he began edging his way into the burgeoning powerhouse that was Upper Playground, as well as Fifty24SF, the clothing retailer and contemporary art gallery in the Lower Haight.

“I just kind of wandered in there one day,” he says. “The dudes that were in there already knew who I was from my spread in Slap magazine, and they asked me to make some T-shirts. I think really the reason why I got so involved with them was because right around the time I started making shirts for them, they also opened a gallery.”

“This may sound funny,” he adds, “saying this years later, but it was much more an art opportunity than just a T-shirt gig. I just had a feeling that it was a good group of dudes to invest in.”

Other than The Luggage Store or Fecal Face Dot Gallery, there weren’t many outlets at the time for showing work like his. Upper Playground was arguably the only game in town, since it was already focused on showing work by up-and-coming Bay Area artists like Sam Flores, MARS-1, and David Choe.

“I could tell that if my art scene was ever to become a scene, it would be with those dudes,” Jeremy says.

Matt Revelli, who founded Upper Playground in the late ’90s, says Jeremy might hold the record for having shown the most times in the gallery since it opened.

“He kind of just snuck his way in multiple times and before I knew it, he had embedded himself in what we were doing with Upper Playground, while using the gallery as a launch pad for the fine art he wanted to do,” he says.

“He was essentially a mirror to what I was doing without trying,” Revelli adds, referring to the sort of brand he was developing with Upper Playground. “He wanted to communicate with the skate community using T-shirts and products to speak to massive amounts of people. But at the same time, he was developing a fine art following, which was essentially symmetrical to what we were doing.”

Revelli goes on about Jeremy’s commitment to mastering the art of functional products, and his polished and academic approach to making art, but he landed on a familiar sentiment: “Jeremy has had, and continues to have, a genuine love affair with the city of San Francisco,” Revelli says. “There are a lot of purists who try to get down on tech and change. … But he continues to find ways to fall in love with San Francisco.”

To this day, Jeremy’s presence is still deeply felt around Upper Playground, and while he went on to design countless other products (including shoes, watches, and even bathmats) and show his art in galleries around the world, it’s clear that his origins in the fine-art world began at Revelli’s flagship complex on Fillmore and Haight.

Jade’s San Francisco story began much earlier than her husband’s, although Jeremy, 43, is about 10 years her senior. She grew up in Stockton, raised by a mother who used to perform in plays around San Francisco when Jayde was a little girl. Once, when she was 8 years old, she lived in the city for four months while her mom performed at The Alcazar Theatre.

“They had a really great costume closet at that theater, and I would just go nuts back there during my mom’s shows, trying on all the clothes and putting on makeup,” she recalls.

Jayde moved to San Francisco in 2005 to study graphic design at the Academy of Art, after spending a few years studying biology in Hawaii. Outside of school, she worked a multitude of graphic-design jobs, producing several Facebook Messenger stickers, like “Prickly Pear Cactus,” the “Facebook Fox,” and “First Mate.”

While Jeremy cut his teeth in the world of fine art at Fifty24SF, Jayde’s springboard was Spoke Art in the Tenderloin.

“Jayde first started working with Spoke Art back in 2013, when she was still Jayde Cardinalli,” says Spoke Art owner Ken Harman. “We had seen her work online, fallen in love, and soon after, invited her to participate in an art show we were planning with internet cat celebrity Lil Bub.”

For that show, Jayde created two pieces in tribute to the famous feline, who has more than two million likes on Facebook: “Space Bub” and “Surf Bub.” Later, she began working on Spoke Art’s annual Moleskine Project show, as well as pop-culture exhibitions such as the Wes Anderson Art Show, and an homage to Stanley Kubrick.

“One thing that I love about Jayde’s work is that while there’s a distinctive aesthetic commonality behind everything she does, you still never know what to expect from her,” Harman says. “The S.F. art scene is so lucky to have Jayde, partially because she’s found a way to enrich the art world in so many different ways. From tech to art shows to design to her own personal style, Jayde is really a renaissance woman.”

While doing research for a project in which he wanted to showcase a history of San Francisco’s most eccentric people, Jeremy stumbled upon a series of illustrations that Jayde had already done on the same subject for an article on hyperlocal blog The Bold Italic titled, “The Royal Family: A History of San Francisco’s Eccentrics.”

“So I sent her this email at like four in the morning, like kinda salty,” Jeremy says, “because I thought I had this sick-ass idea, and I had spent 48 hours thinking I was really clever. Then I find out that not only had it been done, but that she killed it. So I was like, ‘We should meet.’ ”

As if two artists meeting over a Bold Italic illustration wasn’t “San Francisco” enough, Jayde suggested drinks at Zeitgeist.

“For her to not only have done something that I could relate to both conceptually and in terms of the way she drew it, and for her to want to meet up at my favorite bar — I sort of had a feeling that there was something magical afoot,” Jeremy says.

That was in 2011, and Jeremy and Jade were married two years later. Appropriately, the service was held in Washington Square Park. Underground hip-hop legend Aesop Rock officiated, skate hero Tommy Guerrero played guitar, and Tony Gemignani hosted the reception at his restaurant, Capo’s.

“It was a very North Beach wedding,” Jeremy says.

The couple describes their experience living and working in the same space as positive, remarking that they push each other forward in their respective endeavors, assisting one another with their complementary skill sets. For Jeremy, there was a bit of an acclimation period, since he’d lived and worked by himself in his North Beach abode for nearly 10 years before Jayde moved in.

“My work has changed since I’ve had someone else here, just because you’re in a different frame of mind,” he says. “When she first moved in, if I was struggling for an idea, I was struggling even harder — because there was someone here to notice. Before, if I was sitting here not having a good idea and no one was here to see me except the pictures on the wall, it really didn’t matter. That’s still a little bit of a struggle for me, but the benefits are still much greater.”

Jayde explains that, while the setup forces them to share the experiences of low points as well as high points, Jeremy’s intense work ethic has ultimately helped her career.

“I think working with him has forced me to take more of a narrative approach,” she says, adding that getting together with Jeremy encouraged her to “get her hands dirty again” after focusing so heavily on digital production.

At the end of 2015, feeling like she’d taken on too many tech-oriented graphic-design jobs, she set a goal to have her first solo show the following Christmas. She approached Upper Playground, and they gave her the opportunity to show in their gallery Fifty24SF in December 2016.

Jayde used pen and ink to create intricate, totemic tarot card designs whose storytelling elements speak to her husband’s influence. However, while Jeremy remarked that his narrative work was less about telling a personal story and more about engaging the viewer to find their own meaning, Jayde’s appeared more personal.

“For the tarot deck pieces, I just started pulling things out of my own life, what I was feeling, what I was going through, putting the characters around me into my work,” she says.

She posted finished drawings on Instagram, hashtagging Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele simply because she was a fan of his design and direction, but thinking nothing would come of it.

But something did. Michele’s team contacted her, saying her drawings were a perfect fit for a Gucci project. One thing led to another, and Gucci bought 17 of the finished pieces before the show was even up.

In September, both Jayde and Jeremy were invited to Gucci’s runway show in Milan for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2017 line. The two were blown away as the models began parading out from the fog, and under chiaroscuro light, Jayde began seeing her designs prominently featured on their clothing.

“I was in heaven,” she says. Suddenly, Jayde was featured in Vogue and other high-profile publications and, on top of that, she sold out her first solo show.

The line has just now started to come out in stores, and last month, Gucci partnered with Colossal Media in New York to create a 2,500-square-foot mural featuring her images across a five-story building on Lafayette and Prince streets.

“It’s badass,” Jeremy says.

Jeremy-Fish-Jonathan-LeVine-Projects-3
The Frogmobile by Jeremy Fish.

A great deal of Jeremy’s work has been exported from San Francisco as well. Over the years, he’s collaborated on products from brands such Nike, Adidas, Absolut Vodka — he designed a bottle — and he’s also made album covers for Aesop Rock and a tour shirts for Paul McCartney and Snoop Dogg. He even created a sign that appeared in Tim Burton’s 2014 film, Big Eyes — and appeared briefly with Jayde in the film, sitting in front of a cafe on Green Street.

Much of the Fishes’ renown has come from their success as commercial artists, but Jeremy doesn’t see that as a negative thing.

“I think it is a healthy balance of the two that keeps my work solid in both arenas,” he says. “If you work with no restrictions for too long, the work can get lost. And if you work with too much restriction, the work can also get lost.

“I have discovered new ideas, styles, and techniques while working on commercial projects, that I was able to import back into my personal artwork and help it to grow. I am equally proud to do both commercial and fine art projects simultaneously,” he adds.

Jeremy espouses a philosophy you might not expect to hear from an artist so deeply in love with a city that’s become increasingly hostile toward the low-budget needs of emerging creatives.

“I don’t resent technology like a lot of other artists,” he says. “A lot of these young cats have kept me in business, buying art from me or commissioning me to do art for their companies. I’m not mad that I chose to make art in a city that invented something else while I was here.

“The internet and all of the things connected to it grew right next to me, and we’ve been running next to each other this whole time. I don’t resent the internet, nor anyone who came here to work in it,” he adds. “I don’t resent the fact that San Francisco has priced out art and artists. Something happened here that’s in-and-of-itself a different type of art that’s affected human beings and our life on Earth. For better or for worse, I’m proud that it came from here.”

Arguably, Jeremy’s most remarkable accomplishment was the 2015 City Hall residency. In addition to his drawings, presented at a solo show that November, Jeremy’s visual odes to city landmarks adorned multiple kiosks and bus stops. He acknowledged both the official and “unofficial” mayors of San Francisco, such as Herb Caen, Robin Williams, and John Coltrane.

“I’m not really political, so I thought I was an odd choice for the project,” Jeremy remarks. “But the face of our city was changing dramatically, and I thought the one thing I could bring to the table was to draw things not just about City Hall, but other aspects of the city relating to our history. I thought a good way to embrace the project was to use it as a vehicle to teach people who had moved here things about our city that were important.”

While Jeremy may have considered himself an unlikely choice, SFAC Galleries Director Meg Schiffler felt that he was precisely the man for the job.

“Jeremy was the first person I thought of,” Shiffler says. “Throughout his career, he’s created hundreds and hundreds of drawings about San Francisco, a city that he clearly loves. He’s also quick to acknowledge what the City of San Francisco has given him, and how it’s shaped who he is at this point in his life. He not only loves the city, he’s devoted to it. I knew that he would represent the best of San Francisco: boundless creativity, singular style, and a passion for both the past and the future.”

If you missed his residency, you’ll have a second chance to get schooled when Jeremy’s seventh published book, O Glorious City: A Love Letter To San Francisco (Chronicle Books) comes out in June. Inside, you’ll find a foreword and interview with Jeremy by Schiffler, plus reproductions of all 100 drawings Jeremy completed during his time at City Hall.

This summer, Jeremy is up to his didactically civic-minded tricks once again, this time in the form of a residency at the former caretaker’s quarters inside Coit Tower. Jeremy plans to occupy the space — currently the gift shop — and pump out a body of work affirming his love for the City by the Bay.

“When I do stuff these days, I kind of want it to be special,” he says. “Not just special for the audience, but special for me. I think this one’s cool, because I don’t think many people even know that there’s a caretaker’s apartment in there.” The details are still being ironed out, but he says he imagines he’ll spend about a month there, most likely in August.

At the moment, Jayde balances a good deal of commercial work with a few upcoming group shows here and there, and she’s looking forward to brainstorming and experimenting with new ideas. Further down the line, in summer 2018, the couple will put on their first show together at Spoke Art NYC.

Despite the deep-seated love they each feel for San Francisco, Jeremy and Jayde lament that it’s been difficult for them to find a house in the city, and they both wonder whether or not they too will be forced to leave one day, as so many of their artist friends have.

“I want to make it clear that neither one of us are mad about the San Francisco we live in today. We’re just trying to generously contribute to it, and hope that those contributions allow us to stay here. And if and when that’s no longer the case, we’ll go gladly and thank her for everything,” Jeremy says. “I owe this place something, and I wish more people looked at the city that way, not the other way around. We aren’t entitled to shit — unless you’re smart enough to own a piece of it.”

Jeremy-Fish-Jonathan-LeVine-Projects-4
Fire Roosters by Jayde Fish.

Regardless of whether or not leaving becomes a reality, Jeremy has a plan to leave his mark on his town for a long, long time.

After his large pink bunny statue on the corner of Laguna and Haight was torn down in 2013 to make way for the massive residential development Alchemy by Alta, some folks from the Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association and a few others successfully raised $75,000 via Kickstarter to replace the statue with a larger bronze version. In fact, the replacement, which Jeremy made with Berkeley sculptor Brin Berliner, will stand about 11 feet tall and weigh nearly half a ton. Jeremy says he has a 75-year land grant from the city for the spot where it will sit at the forthcoming Haight Street Art Center, so barring a massive uprising in which rebels decide to topple the bunny, it should be there long after Jeremy leaves this world, much less the city.

“I’m proud that the city I chose to live in over 20 years ago is still progressing and isn’t in a slump, and doesn’t allow you to stay here and make shitty art and get by,” Jeremy says. “I’m proud of San Francisco. And when our time comes and we have to move, I’ll go quietly, proudly, and know that I tried to make a difference in a city that changed my life forever. It’d be the least I could do.”

Originally featured in the San Francisco Weekly

Studio Visit With Victor Castillo

WE WERE ALL TO BE KINGS: A STUDIO VISIT WITH VICTOR CASTILLO

Carlos Gonzalez stopped by Victor Castillo‘s studio ahead of his upcoming exhibition opening on April 1st at Jonathan LeVine Projects at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City.

The artist has show with LeVine in the past, but will making a debut at the Jersey space. The LA-based Castillo has long been creating work with an almost sinister surrealism, smiling characters with blacked-out eyes that seem to be on the verge of witnessing a tragedy. The show runs through April 29, 2017.

JuxtapozVictorCastillo00

JuxtapozVictorCastillo01

JuxtapozVictorCastillo02

JuxtapozVictorCastillo03

JuxtapozVictorCastillo04

JuxtapozVictorCastillo05

JuxtapozVictorCastillo06

JuxtapozVictorCastillo07

JuxtapozVictorCastillo08

Originally featured on Juxtapoz

JLP Art Competition

Delusional:

Jonathan LeVine’s Search for the Next Great Artist

1

Jonathan Levine Projects is committed to new and cutting edge art, exploring the terrain of the high/low and everything in between. As a youth growing up in Trenton, New Jersey during the 1980s, Jonathan LeVine recognized the appeal of countercultural aesthetics including punk flyers, comics, graffiti and tattoos. In 2001, after years of independently curating at alternative venues, he decided to open a gallery specializing in this nascent art movement. Many people called him and this risky endeavor “delusional”, however, sixteen years later, he’s now the owner of one of the most well know gallery’s in the world and has cultivated the careers of many renowned artists. Jonathan LeVine is now looking for the world’s next great artist and wants to see if YOU have what it takes. Are you delusional enough? Click HERE to submit!

Jonathan LeVine Projects’ first annual art competition is open to artists ages 18 and older of all backgrounds and experience. After the submission deadline, a selection of artworks will be chosen to be exhibited in Delusional, a group show highlighting the finalists, opening on August 9, 2017. Jonathan LeVine will choose first, second and third place winners and will grant the following prizes:

1st Place – Solo Exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Projects
2nd Place – Participation in a group show at Jonathan LeVine Projects
3rd Place – A week of promotion via Jonathan LeVine Projects website and social media platforms

**Additional prizes and awards to be announced! Be sure to keep checking in for updates!

Entry Requirements:

All submitted artworks must be for sale (priced at a reasonable market rate) and available to be exhibited from August 9 – 29, 2017. Upon the sale of an artwork, Jonathan LeVine Projects will earn a commission of fifty percent (50%) of the net proceeds from the sale.
Please include the following with each submission:
-CV/Bio
-1 image for two dimensional works and 2 images for 3 dimensional works
-Work details (title, year, medium, dimensions, price)
**Size limit: Paintings – 6 x 6 feet; Sculptures – 6 x 4 feet

Pricing: $45 for 3 submissions ($10 for each additional submission)

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: July 12, 2017

David Choong Lee in Hi-Fructose

David Choong Lee Crafts Lush, Abstract Worlds in New Mixed-Media Works

By Andy Smith

David-Choong-Lee-Pond

Korea-born artist David Choong Lee made a notable shift from realism to abstraction in recent years, his new work containing lush, vibrant landscapes and otherworldly figures. An upcoming show at Jonathan Levine Projects, titled “Gravity,” offers new works from the San Francisco art scene vet. The show kicks off April 1 and runs through April 29.

David-Choong-Lee-Home

The gallery says that although he’s been around for decades, he’s just “getting started” in a new chapter of his career. “Unlike his past realistic figurative work, his new imagery stems entirely from his imagination and is the result of laborious studies: painting and rearranging over and over to develop a new visual vocabulary,” the gallery says.

David-Choong-Lee-Figure-3

These new works are created with acrylics, latex and aerosol paint. The result is a visual language that moves between the geometric and the seemingly organic. The artist has said this, when reflecting on audience interpretation of these current works: “When someone understands one of these paintings, it’s like they’re hugging me really deep from inside,” he said.

David-Choong-Lee-Hole-1

Originally featured on Hi-Fructose

Jonathan LeVine on Chasing News

Jonathan Levine is a working class punk rock kid from Trenton who was — as the title of the book about him suggests — “Delusional” enough to think he could earn a living selling and curating the art he loves. Call it “lowbrow” or “pop surrealism” or “street art.” Whatever you call it, Levine, with galleries in New Hope PA, then Philadelphia and finally New York City, rode a wave of popularity that, by the late 1990s, saw him connecting unknown artists across the globe with collectors ranging from corporate CEO’s to rock stars.

But now, Levine is making another off-beat move.

He’s moving his Jonathan Levine Gallery from Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood to the Mana Center for Contemporary Art in Jersey City, New Jersey. It’s a huge move for Levine and a big coup for Jersey City’s exploding art scene. Brian, an old pal of Levine since their days spent in Jersey City and Trenton in the 1990s, paid a visit to Levine on the eve of his great New Jersey grand opening.

Carlos Ramirez in The Huffington Post

Carlos-Ramirez-Snake-Oil-and-Fools-Gold

The New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood just wrapped up a solo exhibition, Complejo de Cristo y Vampiros, by Carlos Ramirez. The narrative reflects a highly paranoid and fearful state – a symbol of ultra-violent times. According to Ramirez, it is an examination of the political climate, societal changes, and other such concerns today. He says, “Something’s happening, but you can’t quite grasp what it is, and you don’t know if you should be scared or not.” Ramirez doesn’t offer solutions, he just raises the questions and contributes to the overall national dialogue of fear. The piece that captures it the most is, Strangers in the Night, which highlights two characters that lurk in the darkness with weaponry in hands, one with a ski-mask, and another in slick-backed hair. Their eyes convey the alarm that hovers over them. They stand tall, but slanted, with tattooed bodies and a cross positioned in front of them like a shield for protection.

Like in other of Ramirez’ pieces, the central characters loom larger than life. It is a way to interrogate his surroundings, and it is a nod to his childhood, where people are over-exaggerated and disproportionate in size. Everything about the image looks right and familiar, but the boxy non-human like limbs or bodies communicate something darker than just night. They are big and small simultaneously – ugly and beautiful. They live in the gray and in-between space where his work rests and reaches for balance. This is symbolic of dark progressivism, to be directly informed by the somber landscape, yet turn it into something supernatural and abstract. This is where Ramirez shows true craftsmanship and intelligence, by manipulating time and space through direct observation that baffles the observer. His work is nuanced with such great layers of complexity. For example, if you see a monster-like character, it sometimes represents someone acting like a monster, like wearing a mask, because often people have to front in society. Ramirez also brings in real elements like bottle caps and ice cream sticks into his work that frequently dictate the outcome. By cross-examining the elements, they offer endless possibilities and scenarios, and they become part of the landscape to tell their own story.

Carlos-Ramirez-Ugly-Toys

Carlos Ramirez’ work is mostly about healing and struggling. He composes with universal ideas that attach to the human condition. He documents the built environment and engages with social commentary, which is why his work is so relatable. If you observe closely you will find things like graffiti, candy wrappers, a juror badge, and any other component that continues the narrative. When an observer participates with his work, he/she connects to pop culture and imagery that is familiar, but must make sense of it on a more intimate level. Currently he is in a group show in New Jersey at the Jonathan Levine Gallery with other Southern California artists like Augustine Kofie, Cryptik, and Jeff Soto, and he is part of a boxed set limited edition print run, 24/7 365 at Modern Multiples with Johnny Rodriguez, David Flores, and a few others. You can also catch him on a panel discussion at the Museum of Latin American Art on 3/3 7-9 pm in Long Beach, which will look at the influence of Frank Romero’s iconic work, and the legacy of social justice and public art today. Follow Carlos Ramirez @c.ramirez2323 and for inquiries reach him at carlosramirezart@weebly.com

Jonathan LeVine Interviewed by The Star Ledger

Erik-Jones-Bloom

Bloom by Erik Jones

Art lovers were surprised by the success Jonathan Levine and his eponymous Chelsea gallery found over the last 12 years. He’s a blue-collar Jersey guy — then and now — with a few edges. The art he promotes was considered lowbrow, street art created by former graffiti taggers, aficionados of pop culture and comic book fans.

This month, Levine is moving his exhibition space in Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary, bringing his stable of artists that includes Shepard Fairey, EVOL, Hush and Beth Cavener. The inaugural show, “Welcome to New Jersey,” opening Feb. 18, features those artists as well as more than 30 others.

“Jersey City is what Chelsea was in 2005,” Levine said in an interview with NJ Advance Media. “I wanted to be in a place where I could feel the liveliness and rawness of how Chelsea was when I first moved there.”

Ron-English-Ecstatic-Grin

Ecstatic Grin by Ron English

The move to Mana Contemporary, an arts complex in the Journal Square neighborhood is in part an economic one, Levine said. Manhattan rental costs aren’t kind, and their continued rise has driven out many of the businesses that once surrounded Levine’s.

Chelsea, he said, “has lost its authenticity, if that’s the word. It feels very contrived, just for rich people. It’s too much about commerce. We obviously have to sell work, and that’s what we do, but that’s not all we do. That’s not exciting to me.

“It allows me to lower overhead and take more risks and do things in a new way.”

The high cost of living has also naturally culled the local arts community, he said.

“In order to be creatively vital, you have to have creative people who can afford to be there and who can afford to take risks,” he said. “I want to feel connected to my community. I want to do something that people are excited about.”

Mary-Iverson-Everglades-National-Park-With-Containers

Everglades National Park with Containers by Mary Iverson

Levine is from Trenton and has a tattoo of the “Trenton Makes, the World Takes” bridge across his back. But his father’s family is from Jersey City and he’s already tapped into the local art scene. Partnering with Mana Contemporary will give him access to a new audience and new gallery locations around the country. (Mana has satellite locations in Chicago and Miami.)

“There aren’t a ton of galleries in New Jersey to begin with. We specialize in something specific and we’re high end,” he said. “I’m hoping to get new clients and find a new excitement.”

Levine thinks the Hudson River is a psychological as well as a physical barrier between New York and New Jersey. He expects Garden State residents who never attended events at his Chelsea space to visit him in Jersey City. And he wants the New Yorkers who are griping about the move to note his new location is a 25-minute train ride from Manhattan.

“My hope is other galleries follow,” he said. “If it becomes a destination, that will be a dream.”

Originally featured in The Star Ledger

Exhibition Preview: Welcome to New Jersey

Jeremy-Geddes-Fall

Fall by Jeremy Geddes

After twelve years of inhabiting the famous Chelsea art district in New York City, Jonathan LeVine Gallery is now relocating to Jersey City with a newfound focus on community and collaboration. The latest Jonathan LeVine group show will now open as their inaugural exhibition in Jersey City. Titled Welcome to New Jersey, the exhibition will feature works by Adam Wallacavage, AJ Fosik, Alessandro Gallo, Alex Diamond, Andy Kehoe, Ashley Wood, Augustine Kofie, Beth Cavener, Camille Rose Garcia, Carlos Ramirez, Chloe Early, Cryptik, Dan Witz, Diego Gravinese, Dylan Egon, Eloy Morales, Erik Jones, EVOL, Gary Taxali, Handiedan, Haroshi, Hush, Jeff Soto, Jim Houser, Joel Rea, John Jacobsmeyer, Josh Agle (Shag), Kazuki Takamatsu, Mab Graves, Martin Wittfooth, Mary Iverson, Matt Leines, Matthew Grabelsky, Miss Van, Nychos, Phil Hale, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Tara McPherson and Tristan Eaton.

Tara-McPherson-Precarious-Position

Precarious Position by Tara McPherson

Cryptik-Golden-Dawn

Golden Dawn by Cryptik

Contemporary Painting, Sculpture And Installation
With featuring over 40 artists, the exhibition will show a diverse selection that includes sculptures, paintings, and illustrations. While the American artist Adam Wallacavage is best known for his surreal and highly ornamented interior design details such as octopus chandeliers, Aj Fosik creates vividly colored and totem-inspired feral creations out of wood. On the other hand, sculptures by Alessandro Gallo, Haroshi and Beth Cavener are all inspired by the animal world. While painters Camille Rose Garcia, Mab Graves and Tara McPherson create work within the tradition of Pop Surrealism, the work of Joel Rea and Mary Iverson presents a contemporary take on landscape painting. On the other hand, Dan Witz, Diego Gravinese, Eloy Morales and Matthew Grabelsky all paint highly detailed photorealistic works. Jim Houser is best known for his works in installations, painting, sculpture and collage.

Chloe-Early-The-Gathering

The Gathering by Chloe Early

Street Art, Illustration and Assemblage
While the work of legends Ron English and Shepard Fairey comments on the issues facing contemporary society, Augustine Kofie is inspired by the basic building block of the geometric world and the work of Jeff Soto shows his affinity for fantastical narratives. While Cryptic explores the realm of spirituality and consciousness, EVOL is best-known for his urban installations and paintings made on used cardboard. Ashley Wood rotates around comic books, cover art, concept design and art direction with a painterly approach, while Josh Agle aka Shag works in the style based on a commercial illustration from the 1950s and 1960s. While Matt Leines creates drawings and paintings rich in color and detail that explore the kaleidoscope of memory and outer zones of imagination, Dylan Egon is best known for his assemblage art with an American pop culture imagery and motifs.

John-Jacobsmeyer-Against-Thee-Wickedly

Against Thee Wickedly by John Jacobsmeyer

Jonathan Levine Group Show
Committed to new and cutting edge art, Jonathan LeVine Gallery has nurtured careers of many celebrated artists. The gallery creates engaging programs and interesting partnerships beyond their gallery space, such as public murals and pop-up exhibitions. The newly opened place in Jersey City is named Jonathan LeVine Projects and it is located within Mana Contemporary, a leading arts organization dedicated to celebrating the creative process. The exhibition Welcome to New Jersey will be on view at the gallery from February 18th until March 18th, 2017. The opening reception will be held on February 18th from 6 to 8pm.

Originally featured on Widewalls

John Jacobsmeyer on Hi-Fructose

John Jacobsmeyer’s Paintings Ring of Nostalgia, Imagined Worlds

By Andy Smith

John Jacobsmeyer’s oil paintings on aluminum recall nostalgic and imaginative experience, using wooden backdrops and technology-inspired shapes. These works at once feel aged and modern, and while humor runs throughout his recent works, several ring of sincerity and vulnerability. And a few others have skeleton warriors. Jacobsmeyer has cited Gene Roddenberry, Nietzsche, David Lynch, and Mary Shelley as influences.

The artist has commented on his continued use of wooden textures, which runs through several pieces past and present: “Clubhouse construction offers the greatest possibilities for world creation,” Jacobsmeyer said, in a past statement. “The wood grain’s wild figuring appears to be constantly changing, invoking alien creatures and landscapes. These possibilities are why my paintings represent wooden interiors. I imagine places from popular culture, history and virtual reality as elaborate clubhouses, as though a pack of 12 year olds had the where-with-all to build their most extravagant fantasies.”

The Ann Arbor-born painter has had solo shows across the world. His schooling includes a BFA from University of New Hampshire an MFA at Yale. Recent solo shows include Gallery Poulsen in Denmark, New Center for Book Arts in New York City, and Seattle’s Davidson Galleries.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Originally featured on Hi-Fructose

Jonathan LeVine Gallery Moving to Jersey City

JONATHAN LEVINE GALLERY MOVING TO JERSEY CITY

Jonathan--LeVine-Gallery

After twelve years of inhabiting the famous Chelsea art district in New York City, Jonathan LeVine Gallery is now relocating to Jersey City, the roots of its owner, following a partnership established with the famous Mana Contemporary. With the new location comes a new name as well – Jonathan LeVine Projects, which will continue the dedicated promotion of the arts, through a newfound focus on community and collaboration. There is no doubt that the new/old initiative will become an integral part of Jersey City and essential to the cultivation of its arts, artists and events. What will await us at the new venue in the exciting upcoming period?

Jonathan-LeVine-Gallery-2

Jonathan LeVine Relocates to Jersey

The new venture that is Jonathan LeVine Projects will be located at Mana Contemporary, which is already familiar to contemporary art lovers as a leading destination dedicated to celebrating the creative process. Founded in 2011, the organization continues to unite artist studios, exhibition spaces and ancillary services in a single, vast location in New Jersey. Jonathan LeVine has already had a fruitful collaboration with the venue, through murals by Shepard Fairey, How & Noms and Nychos, and the two also presented The Juxtapoz Clubhouse at Mana Wynwood during Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2016.

Jonathan-LeVine-Gallery1

A New Era for JLG

The ongoing partnership between the two entities promises even more unique programing, as well as further development of engaging events, such as pop-up shows and museum-quality exhibitions. There is the possibility that these shows travel to satellite Mana locations in Chicago and Miami as well! About the move, Jonathan LeVine elaborates: “Moving out to Mana in Jersey City is like moving to Chelsea in the mid-90s’. My aim is to pioneer new territory, rethink the changing nature of the brick and mortar gallery and collaborate with artists on new ideas. A partnership with Mana comes with multiple resources, endless space and the possibility of reinvention in new and exciting ways.”

Jonathan-LeVine-and-exhibiting-artist-Olek

The Upcoming Show

The very first show at Jonathan LeVine Projects in Jersey City is symbolically named Welcome to New Jersey. Opening on February 18th, 2017, the exhibition will feature only the greatest names we were used to seeing at the gallery in New York, such as Adam Wallacavage, AJ Fosik, Alessandro Gallo, Alexis Diaz, Andy Kehoe, Ashley Wood, Augustine Kofie, Beth Cavener, Camille Rose Garcia, Carlos Ramirez, Chloe Early, Cryptik, Dan Witz, Diego Gravinese, Eloy Morales, Erik Jones, EVOL, Gary Taxali, Haroshi, Hush, Jeff Soto, Jim Houser, Joel Rea, John Jacobsmeyer, Jorg Heikhaus/Alex Diamond, Josh Agle (Shag), Kazuki Takamatsu, Mab Graves, Martin Wittfooth, Mary Iverson, Matt Leines, Matthew Grabelsky, Michael Reeder, Miss Van, Nick Walker, Nychos, Phil Hale, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Tara McPherson and Tristan Eaton. Make sure you visit the show at the new location, at Newark Ave., on view until March 18th, 2017!

Originally featured on Widewalls

Fulvio di Piazza on ARTINFO

Fulvio di Piazza’s ‘Entangled’ at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York

“Entangled,” an exhibition featuring the works of Italian-artist Fulvio di Piazza (b. 1969) will run from January 7 through January 28, 2017 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York.

The selection of works on display depicts solitary faces and levitating animals in the centre of the canvas. At first glance, it may look that the subject matter is abstract in nature but on closer inspection, we realize that they are delicate environments comprising mountains, lakes, forests, stars and debris that ultimately gives rise to an entire form. Di Piazza’s meticulous attention to details in his paintings represents contemporary models of communication where the background noise becomes the message, which can be difficult to discern due to sensory overload. This is his second solo exhibition with the gallery.

Fulvio-di-Piazza-Nantucket

Fulvio-di-Piazza-Universe

Fulvio-di-Piazza-Sul-Tramonto-Di-Seth

Originally featured on ARTINFO

Dan Witz x Dior Homme

Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz recently collaborated with Dior Homme for their Winter 2017 line, which made its debut during Paris Fashion Week on January 21st, 2017. Featuring dramatic outerwear pieces printed with the artists iconic mosh-pit imagery, Dior describes the collection as follows:

A ‘Dior’ attitude that is pure and raw.
A ‘hardcore’ energy reminiscent of the « mosh pits » captured by artist Dan Witz :
The birth of a HarDior style.

A new vision for tailoring with a double-edged silhouette:
When « sartorial » meets « street ».
A renewed, youthful interpretation of luxury.

Dan-Witz-Dior-1

Dan-Witz-Dior-2

Dan-Witz-Dior-3

Dan-Witz-Dior-4

Dan-Witz-Dior-5

Dan-Witz-Dior-6

Dan-Witz-Dior-7

Rapper and producer A$AP Rocky

Dan-Witz-Dior-8

Dan Witz

Dan-Witz-Dior-9

Dan Witz with his wife, Tiffaney McCannon, and son, Mack