Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chiquita Banana Threatens Legal Action Against Emeryville Artist Packard Jennings

by Kathleen Richards
Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 3:07 PM

The artwork in question. - DESTRUCTABLES.ORG
  • Destructables.org
  • The artwork in question.

Emeryville artist Packard Jennings is used to skewering the powerful. He once made a small figurine of a “naked-but-for-socks-and-garters Dick Cheney battling a four-headed hydra.” He also created an anarchist action figure that he “shopdropped” in local Target and Walmart stores as a way to make a point about consumerism.

But even he was surprised when he received a cease-and-desist letter from a Chiquita Banana lawyer last week. The letter was in regards to an art project made by one of Jennings’ former students several years ago, which he posted to his website Destructables.org in 2011. The sticker uses Chiquita Banana’s logo to comment on the company’s alleged pesticide use, and the website encourages users to download the stickers and place them on bananas in supermarkets.

Highlighting the transgressions of corporations in one aspect of Jennings’ work, but he said he’s never been threatened with legal action before.

“I thought it was strange, in part because it had been up for so long,” Jennings said in a phone interview. “It’s not like the impact of these stickers has been huge.”

Emeryville artist Packard Jennings - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • courtesy of the artist
  • Emeryville artist Packard Jennings

Jennings believes that the stickers fall under fair use as a parody and notes that they’re not generating any revenue.

Despite the legal threat, Jennings isn't deterred. So yesterday he responded to the company and created three new sticker designs, which, he said, highlight other allegedly nefarious business practices. "I would love to hear your client’s thoughts on these new interpretations of Chiquita’s past and current business practices," Jennings wrote, tongue firmly planted in cheek. "I would love to know your favorite! What about it resonates with you?"

chiquita_deforest-01.jpeg
The company has yet to respond, but Jennings said he’s getting legal advice in case the matter should proceed. And he’s also seeking press. “Really, the best defense for me is a good offense,” he said. “For this little thing to exist in some little corner of the internet as opposed to the press, it’s not a good strategy to make it disappear. It only makes it worse.”

We’ve reached out to Chiquita Banana’s lawyer and will update this post if and/or when it progresses.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Interface Gallery Exhibit “Opening the Trap” Explores Hybrid Identities

by Madeline Wells
Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Opening the Trap is on display through April 1. - PHOTO BY PHILLIP MAISEL
  • Photo by Phillip Maisel
  • Opening the Trap is on display through April 1.
Nestled in Temescal Alley, Interface Gallery displays a mix of local and non-local art, putting disparate artists in conversation with each other.

The gallery’s current exhibit, Opening the Trap, is a group exhibition featuring work by Diedrick Brackens, Amir H. Fallah, Genevieve Gaignard, Jiha Moon, and Lana Williams. Interface director Suzanne L’Heureux derives the name from an essay by Thomas McEvilley, in which he proclaims “that categories and criteria have no innate validity – only the validity that is projected upon them – and thus that their transgression can be an opening into freedom.”

L’Heureux enjoys bringing a range of material to Interface, and feels like she’s finally hit her stride in her fifth year of directing the gallery.

“I'm getting better at thinking about how many group shows I’m doing versus how many solo shows, and how many are interactive, installational, or weird sensorial experiences versus ones dealing more with political and social issues,” she explained. Opening the Trap is one of the more politically minded exhibitions, focusing on the complexity and fluidity of identity.
Lana Williams's piece, "Pose", plays with formal elements. - PHOTO BY PHILLIP MAISEL
  • Photo by Phillip Maisel
  • Lana Williams's piece, "Pose", plays with formal elements.
L’Heureux decided to put emerging Oakland artist Lana Williams in dialogue with more established artists from Los Angeles (and one, Jiha Moon, from Atlanta). Williams’ piece displayed in the gallery, titled “Pose,” plays with formal elements. The work is an empty silver picture frame nestled in between two partially visible pink and orange rectangles that seem to be emerging from its sides. It’s an exploration of queering form as a metaphor for queer identity, and by extension fluid identity in general.
Amir H. Fallah's paintings combine the portraits of Western tradition with decorative elements of Iranian and Islamic art. - PHOTO BY PHILLIP MAISEL
  • Photo by Phillip Maisel
  • Amir H. Fallah's paintings combine the portraits of Western tradition with decorative elements of Iranian and Islamic art.
“I was excited about the idea of bringing in these notes because her work is more about the hybridity of style and playing with formal elements than it is about the explicit use of the figure,” said L’Heureux. She juxtaposed this more abstract piece with the photographic self-portraiture of Genevieve Gaignard, as well as Amir H. Fallah’s paintings that combine the portraits of Western tradition with decorative elements of Iranian and Islamic art.

Genevieve Gaignard's work revolves around her biracial identity, exploring race, femininity, class, and their intersections.
  • Genevieve Gaignard's work revolves around her biracial identity, exploring race, femininity, class, and their intersections.
Gaignard’s work revolves around her biracial identity, exploring race, femininity, class, and their intersections through the canvas of her own body. At Interface, three images from her series “The Lineup” fill the wall, Gaignard posed in colorful hats and outfits that celebrate African American church culture. Her facial expressions echo the strength but also the struggle inherent to Black identity. Fallah has two pieces on display, both of which derive from interviews he conducted with people about their immigrant or mixed identity experiences. He covers the faces of his subjects to shift the focus from what an individual looks like to the relationships and material items that shape their identity.
Diedrick Brackens incorporates African traditions of weaving into his work. - PHOTO BY PHILLIP MAISEL
  • Photo by Phillip Maisel
  • Diedrick Brackens incorporates African traditions of weaving into his work.
A tapestry piece from Diedrick Brackens, who also happens to be Gaignard’s roommate and good friend, is mounted on another wall. In colorful orange, yellow, and blue tones, he incorporates African traditions of weaving as well as the metaphor of the tapestry for the body — displaying a vulnerability that ties into his queer identity.

Three sculptures from Jiha Moon, a Korean immigrant, sit on a table at the center of the gallery. Moon’s pieces, such as one that is teapot-shaped with a drooling smiley face titled “LOL,” are playful reconfigurations of traditional Korean artforms combined with folk art and internet emoticons.

Jiha Moon’s “LOL” is a playful reconfiguration of traditional Korean artforms combined with folk art and internet emoticons. - PHOTO BY PHILLIP MAISEL
  • Photo by Phillip Maisel
  • Jiha Moon’s “LOL” is a playful reconfiguration of traditional Korean artforms combined with folk art and internet emoticons.
Like the other artists, Moon’s work isn’t strictly about her own identity — but, L’Herueux said, “When you have those kinds of experiences, you are naturally in touch with the more complex aspects of identity than those that are normally projected in our culture.” Instead, all of the art in Opening the Trap explores identity’s fluidity. As McEvilley puts it, it’s “an idea of the self that is relative, multi-faceted, and shifting.”

Opening the Trap is on display at Interface Gallery through April 1.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Max Park Builds Living Memorial for Victims of Racial Violence with Single "Say Their Names"

by Madeline Wells
Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 12:47 PM

Max Park members Lesley Grant and Tal Ariel. - MAXPARKMUSIC.COM
  • MaxParkMusic.com
  • Max Park members Lesley Grant and Tal Ariel.

More than a song, Oakland-based duo Max Park's new release "Say Their Names" is a social justice project. The collaboration between singer Lesley Grant and producer Tal Ariel is a devastating gospel piano ballad that culminates in Grant reciting the names of 26 people of color who were were killed by racially motivated violence. At the end of the song, a few seconds of blank space remain so the names of new victims can be added, creating a sort of living memorial.

"It is a terrible and heartbreaking thing to include in a song, just as the reality itself is terrible and heartbreaking," said Ariel.

Max Park is named after the Maxwell Park neighborhood in Oakland. The electro-soul band collaborated with the Oakland Youth Choir for "Say Their Names," a decision made not just from a musical standpoint but also a socially conscious one.

"Children's voices felt like a powerful statement to me," said Ariel. "These kids are the future, and they're seeing what's happening to their friends and other people in society. Giving them the chance to speak and lend their voices to what we're saying I felt was very poignant."

As a white man originally from the Middle East collaborating with a Black woman from the South, Ariel hopes to do his part in engaging white people with the harsh realities of racism. In conversations with close friends, he realized there was an obvious divide between reactions of those who had been personally exposed to racism or not.

When white people "hear about these names, maybe they're sad but it's not personal," said Ariel. "There's sort of a dehumanization going on where it becomes just statistics and headlines, as opposed to the real human being."

"Say Their Names" is about humanizing these names. The song was released on Feb. 26, the sixth anniversary of Trayvon Martin's murder. Currently in the works is a crowd-sourced music video, for which Max Park is inviting the general public to submit videos of themselves singing along to the song or holding up signs with names of victims. Ariel hopes the video gives those who feel helpless in the face of senseless violence a way to participate in the fight against injustice.

Max Park will also be featuring some of the victims' families in the video. They've connected already with Stacey Sims, the sister of Will Sims, and Ron Davis, the father of Jordan Davis with whom Ariel had an extremely emotional conversation that left him in tears. Part of the intent of "Say Their Names" is to show support to these families.

"Just the fact that they know there are people out there who know their stories and that we won't let them be forgotten has some kind of impact on them," said Ariel. All profits from the song will also be donated to organizations working on racial justice issues.

Max Park has more new music scheduled for release on strategic dates throughout the year, and hope to generate enough buzz from the music video to eventually tour. Anyone who wants to show solidarity by submitting a clip for the "Say Their Names" video can do so via the band's website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

REVIEW: At the Oracle Arena Last Night, Lorde Gave Fans What They've Been Waiting For

Headlining last year's Outside Lands was just a taste of her return to the stage

by Azucena Rasilla
Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 11:22 AM

PHOTO BY AZUCENA RASILLA
  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Four years ago, Lorde was a shy 18-year-old singer-songwriter who was just absorbing the success of her debut album, Pure Heroine. Performing at Berkeley's Greek Theatre in October 2014 was a pivotal moment for the New Zealand native, whose real name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor. She had no idea that four years later she'd be selling out arenas around the world.

“The Greek was one of the biggest venues I’ve ever played,” Lorde  told thousands of screaming fans during the Oakland stop of her Melodrama World Tour. “It felt archaic, like I was at the Coliseum.”

While some singers fail to recreate the smash success of a debut album, Lorde isn't one of them. Her sophomore album, Melodrama, has been critically acclaimed, and her performance at the Oracle Arena last night proved that the four-year wait for her return to the stage was certainly worth it.

Lorde opened the night with “Homemade Dynamite,” swaying onto the stage wearing a sheer black outfit with a rhinestone-embellished bra peeking through her top. Several dancers dressed in nude colors joined her, swaying to the rhythm of each song.

She didn't need them. Lorde has the ability to command a stage all by herself — no elaborate production needed. Yet the subtle theatrical production complemented her performance perfectly.

“Oakland, welcome to the Melodrama World Tour,” she told the audience.

Sure, the night was all about the Melodrama tour, but Lorde also incorporated songs from her Grammy-award-winning debut album,  performing "Tennis Court," "400Lux," "Ribs," and "Buzzcut Season."

After a quick wardrobe change into a long and flowy pink dress, Lorde was back onstage. Broadcast the boom boom boom boom/ And make 'em all dance to it, she belted. This wardrobe change also served as a transition to the more talkative Lorde, who addressed the crowd about being vulnerable.

Lorde has told the press that Melodrama isn't a break-up album; it’s a record about being alone. The majority of the album was co-written and produced by Jack Antonoff, who the singer is rumored to be dating.

When introducing "Hard Feelings," Lorde told the audience, “This song is about a sad moment, the moment when you break up with someone, and you know it’s over but you haven’t left the room.”  Another song about feeling vulnerable was "Writer in the Dark."

During the almost two-hour set, Lorde also covered the Frank Ocean song "Solo" and delighted the crowd with fan favorite "Liability."

After performing "Royals," "Perfect Places," and "Green Light," with star-shaped confetti falling from the ceiling, the singer returned to the stage once again with a mic and drum pad to belt out three more songs: "Loveless," "Precious Metals," and "Team."


Lorde isn’t your typical pop star. Her lyrics and stage presence — which is especially impressive considering her age and short musical carer — surpass those of other singers around her age, the Taylor Swift’s and Selena Gomez’ of the pop world.

One thing is certain: She's no longer a shy teenager. “I feel very at home in this room,” Lorde told her screaming fans.




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

UC Berkeley Student LIVVIA Is on Her Way to Pop Stardom

by Madeline Wells
Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 2:38 PM

LIVVIA studies economics at UC Berkeley. - PHOTO BY TIZIANO LUGLI
  • Photo by Tiziano Lugli
  • LIVVIA studies economics at UC Berkeley.
LIVVIA splits her time between two worlds: the life of a UC Berkeley economics student and the life of a budding pop star. When I talked to her on the phone, she was racing back to the studio in Los Angeles after taking a midterm.

"The thing that makes it really hard is being in two cities, and also the travel that I do for music," said LIVVIA. "I do a lot of work on the plane or in the car. In-flight wifi is the best thing ever."

She's coming up on graduation just as her music career is taking off. LIVVIA dropped her first single back in January, a collaboration with Quavo from Migos called "Catch a Body." Her breathy vocals flit over gritty bass with steamy lyrics about looks that can kill. The club-ready single even got a slick James Bond-esque music video to match a few weeks ago. Dressed head-to-toe in black leather, her special agent character receives a call from Quavo, assigning her a target to annihilate. LIVVIA did all her own stunts and racked up her fair share of bruises learning combat training and stage fighting.


Not only did she get to bring to life the action movie video she'd always seen in her head, but she also was able to turn "Catch a Body"'s sexy lyrics into a message of female empowerment. On behind-the-scenes videos she posted on Instagram, people kept commenting on how she was "such a Bond girl."

"I was like, 'no, I'm just Bond.' But I'm all about girl power. You could totally pull it off, too," she said, reassuring me of the ease of looking like a badass doing stunts on camera.

Part of LIVVIA's appeal is her infectious positivity. She mused that if music doesn't work out, she could pursue a career as a matchmaker or a therapist, or even a motivational speaker. Jokes aside, an economics degree is a pretty solid backup plan. It's helpful to her right now in her music career as well.

"Econ is good for every business. The music industry is just another business, and I'm not just the artist — I really take part in all aspects of it," she said. LIVVIA is not just a singer — she's been writing her own songs since she was a teenager. After a few years of developing her style and travelling to LA to work with co-writers, she toured internationally with popular artists such as Jessie J., Meghan Trainor, and The Jonas Brothers. Now, she's put touring on hold to concentrate on spending more time in the studio.

More new music releases are on the horizon for LIVVIA soon, but in the meantime, her catchy single with Quavo is a total bop. You can also check out her Spotify, where she posts personal playlists with tongue-in-cheek titles such as "When you start to catch feels but want to toss them back" and "When you accidentally text the wrong person."




Monday, March 5, 2018

2018 Burger Boogaloo Lineup Announced

by Kathleen Richards
Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 9:40 AM

d0fffdd6-980e-4cb7-80e5-52ad053c7bee.jpg
This year's Burger Boogaloo lineup has just been announced, and it does not disappoint. In addition to headliners Devo(!) and The Damned, several bands will be making rare appearances, including Le Shok, Hunx & His Punx, Gris Gris, and Battleship. John Waters will once again host the two-day music extravaganza in Oakland's Mosswood Park, taking place on June 30 and July 1.

Weekend passes will start at $169 and VIP tickets are $269 (includes a "bag-o-swag"). Passes for Saturday (Devo) are $125 and Sunday (The Damned) are $99. Find tickets here. Hopefully you've been saving your pennies, because you won't want to miss this.

Full lineup below:

DEVO – 1st show in 3 years
THE DAMNED
LE SHOK – 1st show in 15 years
TRADITIONAL FOOLS – 1st show in 5 years
THE MUMMIES
THE RIP OFFS – 1st show in 5 years
SPITS
HUNX & HIS PUNX – Reunion Show
MUDHONEY
DWARVES
THE DICKIES
GIUDA
GRIS GRIS – 1st show in 10 years
QUINTRON & MS. PUSSYCAT
THE FLAKES
FIRESTARTER – 1st show in USA
SUBSONICS
FLYTRAPS
CUMSTAIN
BATTLESHIP – 1st show in 10 years
NOTS
FRANCIS LAU 


Friday, March 2, 2018

Tonight's First Fridays Is Postponed Due to Rain

by Madeline Wells
Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 10:54 AM

FILE PHOTO BY STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN
  • File photo by Stephen Loewinsohn
Due to the predicted rain, Oakland is postponing its First Fridays Street Festival, which was supposed to take place this evening. Art galleries and other indoor First Friday events will still be happening, but street performances and vendors on the streets have been cancelled.

Tonight's event was themed “Art is Women”; instead, the plan is to move the street festival to next Friday, March 9, in what's being dubbed "Next Friday."

“By doing so, we are able to preserve the spirit of Oakland’s art community even when the festival is rained out on First Fridays,” wrote marketing director Alicia Rivera in an email. “Next Friday” will be the first-ever rescheduling of the festival due to weather circumstances — a tactic that will continue in the future. March's "Next Friday" will pay homage to International Women’s Day, focused on giving recognition to the women who make First Fridays happen. The festival will feature local artists, food makers, performers, and retailers run by women in the Bay Area.

As for this Friday, there’s still plenty to do in the area — if you’re brave enough to venture into the rain (and, possibly, hail). Oakland Art Murmur is hosting an evening Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m., rain or shine; Warehouse 416 and Diane Donwoodie are hosting “Up
In Arms,” a tribute to photojournalist Lionel Fluker, who
was fatally shot five years ago; SLATE Gallery is introducing its new exhibit, “Modern Landscape: Exhibition walk-through with curators and artists”; and the brand-new Ashara Ekundayo Gallery will host a reception for its first exhibition, Obvious Magic. For more art gallery shows in Oakland, click here.

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