The Non-Definitive Guide To Life

If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with rain" - Dolly Parton

Posts for ART Category

Interview with Maria Filar: Staying True to Herself

ART, INTERVIEWS - August 31, 2020

I came across the work of Maria Filar in June after seeing someone repost her work on Instagram. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with her bold use of color and fun illustrative style. She uses her talents for activism and to generally lift the vibration of this world to a more positive place.  I’m all about supporting a light warrior like that! I’m so excited to bring this interview with Maria Filar to this corner of the internet and hope you enjoying finding out more about this talented creative voice.

 p.s. Her Threadless shop is filled with adorable graphic tees and more! The shirts with slogans like Welcome to the Apocalypse, Here for the Snacks, and Progress Over Perfection are all “add to cart” favorites. Think I’ll make them a reward if I hit my September goals.

Name &/or Nickname: Maria

Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):

Sun: Gemini

Moon: Leo

Rising: Scorpio

Favorite Color: Bright Coral, Yellow, Pink – can’t choose one!

Childhood Hero: A little later (like early high school) I discovered Amelie and she’s been my top inspiration/hero ever since. 

How did you get your start in illustration? And what is your creative process like?

I was an “art kid” in high school and always knew I wanted to do something in art. I went to an art school in Detroit (College for Creative Studies) and studied fine arts for one semester before realizing I am NOT a fine artist. I switched to illustration and it was much more suited to my talents and interests.  In school they really pushed the freelancer/editorial illustration career path and I didn’t even know much about commercial art and product design, which is where my career took me in the 11 years since graduating. I love making art that speaks to a lot of people and can be made accessible to a wide audience. My creative process is kind of all over the place. I take inspiration from a lot of different sources and it has slowly grown into my current style, but as far as process goes I’m not much of a planner. I just mess around with imagery and colors until I’m happy with the final piece.

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Interview with Lauren Rose : The Mind Behind Vagina Slims


I wrote the following before I ever reached out to Lauren Rose; I was listening to one of her Vagina Slims episodes while crafting the questions I would later email her:

For lack of a better word, I will be referring to Vagina Slims as a podcast. But it exists in a world apart from the idea that comes to mind when you think of a podcast. Vagina Slims gives me old school radio DJ vibes. That one hour hosted by your favorite radio DJ, sharing their thoughts while playing some favorite tunes.

I still stand by this sentiment, but as you get deeper into the interview, you might find it amusing how I was instinctually was picking up on the intent behind Lauren’s refreshing form of expression.

When I was crafting the interview, I was trying to figure out a category to put Lauren and Vagina Slims into, find a way to T-up, or justify my outreach to her. However, the truth is simply that she doesn’t fit into some “creative box”. I just enjoy seeing the world through her eyes, and she mostly shares that viewpoint via her Instagram or Vagina Slims, which up until recently (aka pandemic free-time) was more sporadic. Years and years ago, I stumbled on her YouTube, maybe a month or two before she shut it down, which then led me to follow her Tumblr to than listening to Vagina Slims after she started that project. I’ve always been drawn to her taste, and in my eyes, I believe she moves through the world with an artist’s spirit.

Yes, you could say this interview is designed to support the effort of Vagina Slims, but really I just wanted to know more about a person that I found interesting.

(internal dialogue: do we always need some profound justification or reason for simply finding out more about the people we find intriguing?) 

I digress – Please do not go and listen to Vagina Slims with the expectations associated with the structure of a podcast as it is in 2020. If anything, pretend you’re on a long road trip flipping through the radio stations and somehow landed on the frequency that is picking up her radio waves. She answers questions from listeners, plays fantastic music, sometimes shares her thoughts on recent movies she watched or sources of inspiration, and always confesses her musing on life in general.

My favorite part of road trips is flipping through radio stations. I’ve found a Majauna themed station in Northern California, a preacher comparing a woman’s sex life to KFC chicken in Lousiana, and a weird Christian storytime in the plains of Kansas. Vagina Slims is how I enjoy the magic of a happenstance radio program from the comfort of my home. Plus, I’m aesthetically amused by her dreamy walks and wherever she roams via her IG Story.

Without further ado – I hope you enjoy meeting Lauren Rose as much as I have over the years via the internet.

Name &/or Nickname:
Lauren Rose

Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Sun: Aries
Moon: Scorpio
Rising: Aries (I swear I’m not crazy!!)

Favorite Color:
Sunbleached peach

Childhood Hero:
Helen Hunt in the movie “Twister” 

(fun fact: i went to high school with the bleach striped hair guy)

What inspired you to create Vagina Slims? Do you remember how you were feeling 5 years ago when you started this project? 

I initially had the idea for Vagina Slims after watching a 1990s film called “Pump Up The Volume” starring Christian Slater. In the film, his character runs this underground pirate radio station that is more or less stream of consciousness talk and his related music picks. He actually pitches his voice while on air so no one can recognize who he is and it suddenly becomes super popular at his high school and starts this revolution of sorts.

In a sense I wanted to create something similar, an open diary “My So-Called Life” format that allows for change, growth, and dissection of topics that I’m into. I’ve always been an internet kid in some way or another growing up so this was a great medium for me to talk about music/movies/life without exposing myself too much. I felt very charged when I first started it like I was finally getting closer to the truths that I’ve wanted to speak about for so long.  Years later I still upload in varying degrees, I haven’t tried to capitalize on it and that’s what I cherish the most. It is just for me and the listeners and no one else.

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The art of protest | An imperfect ally

ART - May 31, 2020

I am an imperfect ally. I have a full post on this statement on page 2 but first the art.

An Instagram friend @joannathejoyful shared out a powerful quote about art and protest, that I wish I remembered/recalled, but its sentiment has been with me this entire week and inspired me to curate a collection of art and graphic design work from Instagram. I searched the #GeorgeFloyd and #BlackLivesMatter hashtags on Instagram and pulled the pieces that resonated most with me.

6/10/20 | Above are the Instagram Story frames that inspired this post. c/o JoannatheJoyful

I have not reached out to the individual artists for permission to share. I will happily remove any artwork from individuals who do not wish to be featured in this post.

🎨 currently unknown artist x please let me know

🎨 Grace :

🎨 Arty B:

🎨 Broobs:<center>

🎨 Monyee Chau :

the artist has made a very important update to her post/art acknowledging the complicated racial implications of the image she created and the damage of the “model minority” narrative has had on black people.

🎨 Nikkolas Smith :

🎨 Shirien:

🎨 Rudy Willingham :

🎨 Jess Bird :

🎨 Danielle Coke :

🎨 Sakina Saïdi :

Click to page 2 for more thoughts on being an imperfect ally….

Pages: 1 2

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‘Instruments of Change’ art adventure at the Fullerton Museum Center

ART - March 30, 2020

‘Instruments of Change’ is another killer exhibition curated by Thinkspace Projects at the Fullerton Museum Center. Dan and I went on the last weekend of February to view the exhibition and I’m glad we ventured into the OC to see it. Afterward, we walked over to a cute little place called Let It Brie for a glass of wine and one of their amazing charcuterie boards. Fingers crossed they make it through this shutdown.

I decided not to do a voice-over in this art vlog because at the moment I’m having trouble finding the words to talk about the work. While at the museum, I just looked at all the colors and detail of the pieces and murals. It left me with an impression, a feeling, and I’m not confident in the words I would find right now to describe my thoughts.

So instead, here is a great article about ‘Instruments of Change’ from the LA Times.

With everything shut down, I’m starting to appreciate art and museums on a whole new level. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who is being self-reflective and realizing just how much they take for granted. Every morning I wake up and return to a place of gratitude, no matter the situation, I choose to start from gratitude.

Sending a prayer to everyone being impacted by this pandemic, and the hope that when we collectively move out of this shadow we are able to embrace the light.

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Art Dorks Explore Las Vegas

ADVENTURES, ART - December 7, 2019

Dan and I are a couple of art dorks.

Exploring Las Vegas hasn’t been high on our priorities list, but an opportunity came up that we couldn’t pass up

Family is extremely important to my husband and I. My first Christmas with my husband’s family, they remarked how I must be surprised by their volume and I laughed saying they had yet to hit my family’s decibel level. Our love of family, even if we are the odd ones in the group, is a part of what bonded us as a couple. So, when his older brother was planning a 21st birthday celebration for his son in Las Vegas we decided it was time to visit Sin City together.

It was so much fun making memories with my husband’s family. On the first day there, they collectively won 1,800. They know how to do Las Vegas, and it was great experiencing the city with them.

Below are the home videos of our adventure in Vegas!

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Julio Torres is the David Bowie of Comedy

ART, WATCH - August 31, 2019

Amazed. Astonished. Breathless. Some will reject this person, and others will worship him.

Julio Torres is the David Bowie of comedy. I have no idea if someone of actual critical merit has already made this comparison or not. I’ve been actively avoiding reviews of his new HBO special My Favorite Shapes because I want my opinion of it to remain pure and strictly my own. I didn’t want my thoughts tainted or made biased by the perceptions of people with respected views.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to an unofficial David Bowie autobiography titled Hero by Lesley-Ann Jones, watched the documentary Finding Fame on Showtime that highlights Bowie’s formative years in music, and played track by track of every album from David Bowie to Diamond Dogs. It’s a lot of Bowie, but could there ever be too much Bowie – that’s a negative.

A few friends had been posting about the special, and I’d seen trailers on Julio’s Instagram feed. Neither spoiled the magic nor artistic brilliance, which is My Favorite Shapes. We’ve been presented with comedy specials that break the format, Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King for example. But from the set design to the glitter on Julio’s well-manicured hands sharing his favorite shapes with us all, Torres didn’t just break the mold of comedy – he shattered it and then reassembled the pieces into a gorgeous fountain mosaic at the center of his alternative zoo.

I sat there watching the special, for a second time around, and exclaimed, “this must be how people who saw David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust on Top of the Pops must have felt.” Amazed. Astonished. Breathless. Some will reject this person, and others will worship him. When I was a kid, Earth just happened to be close enough to Saturn that through a telescope I could see the rings around the planet. It was so special, and not something I could replicate a week later. It was the fact that at that moment, on that night, I could see Saturn’s rings. And at this moment in time, on that particular network, Julio Torres’s My Favorite Shapes was contracted into existence without needing the comedian to convince anyone of the concept.

Torres’s past performances can be seen on YouTube. A scavenger hunt of the puzzle pieces that would become his special. In 2016 at a Risk! Live show he discusses that job interview where he blurts out “I love corporations” in more detail. At Paste Studios he goes through impersonations that demonstrates his style which would lead to that bitchy little curtain between first and second class. It was also in 2016 that he had yet to have crafted his sign off, “if there are no further questions,” struggling for a way to end a set. But Julio from the past, you will figure out how to end a set, and it will be perfection. In April of 2017, Daisy Duck makes an appearance in his performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and a year later Cinderella’s glass shoe on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonMy Favorite Shapes isn’t an overnight success, like all great art; it has taken years to craft and refine.

David Bowie’s Space Oddity brought Bowie attention, but not the fame and notoriety that would be his legacy. Bowie put out The Man Who Sold the World and Hunky Dory after Space Oddity, and the albums have excellent songs on them, but it wasn’t till The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust was released that Bowie ripped the veil between fame and icon. Julio Torres ripped through that veil with his special; its uniqueness makes it iconic. And not in the way the word is overused today, but in the most real sense of the word – Julio Torres is worthy of adoration, great respect, and reverence. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next. My only prayer is that the pressure of the artistic success and achievement of My Favorite Shapes doesn’t get into his head and that he will continue to be fiercely true to himself. Write what makes him laugh because his audience will find him. And as he continues to navigate life, he takes influences from wherever he may roam. I can’t wait to see the Julio Torres spin on all of it.

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ADVENTURES, ART - August 28, 2018

The handmade art installation of 31,000 felt pieces by the artist Lucy Sparrow.

Unfortunately, Sparrow Mart closed it’s doors this past Saturday, but if you weren’t able to enjoy the felt made mecca in real life, you can come explore with me!

I found out about Sparrow Mart like most people did, through social media. But fortunately, because I follow a handful of arty farty people, I saw a peak of it during its exclusive opening night. Two days later I took a half day from work and met Dan in Downtown LA to go and visit Sparrow Mart. The handmade art installation included 31,000 pieces that took 4 people and 1 year to create, the creative vision lead by artist Lucy Sparrow.

The store was mini-mart sized but more like a miniature Gelsons, as it was stocked with produce and meats, a sushi counter and fresh fish. The shelves had brand names that invoked childhood memories, and Sparrow was clever in her selection of products to reproduce. Nostalgia mixed with a bit of novelty is what made Sparrow Market so special.

It was important to me to check out the store while it was fully stocked. All the items were available for purchase, and I knew as the buzz grew, the markets visual impact would dwindle. I’ve always been fascinated with the quantity versus quality aspect of art and life. My ice princess attitude towards Andy Warhol has melted over the years, but for a long time, I hated him because of his use of quantity to create an artistic statement – the use of repetition. And as I’m at Sparrow Mart thoroughly enjoying myself, looking at the felt Brillo Boxes, I’m hit with the quantity over quality constant again.  A principle I once protested, I now acknowledge the merit of because when it’s done well there is nothing to dispute.

when art imitates art

more photos if you continue reading

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29 Rooms Los Angeles

ADVENTURES, ART - January 23, 2018

29 Rooms is an interactive art experience curated by Refinery 29 where artists and brands come together to create 29 Instagramable backdrops for your content creating enjoyment. I was really excited about 29 rooms, and super thankful my friend was able to get me in – but I’d be lying if I said that the “do it for the gram” attitude of the place didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth.

The grammable art experiences seem to be popping up a lot these days, and my natural contrarian attitude wants to rebel against the museum of ice cream and happy place and say – no I won’t just go for the gram. I want to go for not only the visual stimulation but the intellectual stimulation. And not to say you can’t just go to something cause it’s just fun, cause I’m sure the museum of ice cream and happy place are fun for people. Maybe if I was better at posing in front of a camera I’d drink less of the haterade and be all about those fun and funky backdrops. But with 29 Rooms, we couldn’t even see all of the rooms because of limited time, mismanaged logistics, and the full-on photoshoots taking place in front of us.

I love getting that great Instagram moment as much as the next person, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of cultural enrichment. I’d like to know the who, what, and why behind what I experience. And sure, maybe some of the 29 Rooms were just sponsored pop-ups made by a collection of set designers who have no emotional investment in the mini-environment they created, but I know for a fact some of the rooms / installations were more than that and to not provide proper information educating people places the LGBTQ install on the same level of importance as the pink sand Shea Moisture install.

To give them some credit, there were small placards affixed to the wall next to the door of some of these rooms, but they were hard to read and considering the entire experience was just more of a mad dash to see what room you could get in, one ended up being more focused on trying to have an experience than finding the information on the room. I really wish they would have the info someplace online (I’ve yet to find it).

In my ideal world, 29 rooms would have time slots, and you’d walk through each room with about a minute or two to enjoy each space. Hell, make it 30 seconds, Yayoi Kasuma’s Infinity Rooms was 30 seconds and worth every moment. But I’m not the curator of 29 Rooms, and I just have to accept that our world is moving into a place where smart people can make money off those that want to enjoy an interactive highly Instagramable art experience.  I just hate it when I become a pawn, and totally know I’m a pawn – and am a little ok with being a pawn.

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ART, BEAUTY & STYLE, HOME + LIFESTYLE - February 3, 2017

Today I’m going wedding dress shopping! Yay. You can peek into my wedding style inspiration on Pinterest, but I doubt I will actually find a dress like any of the ones I’ve selected. My taste exceeds my budget. I’m approaching wedding dress shopping with an open mind and a desire to capture a sense of glamor and sophistication with a twist.

But here is a quick list of my favorites from the week, as it’s going to be a very busy day! 

Friday Favorites

New Art Vlog: If you’re in Los Angeles try and check out the exhibition at Gabba Gallery. It closes tomorrow, February 4th but I loved the work of L.Croskey and Carly Ealey.

Taiko Drumming: I’ve had a busy and inspiring work week and to help me focus I’ve been listening to a lot of Taiko Drumming. Taiko is a traditional Japanese form of drumming. Whenever I’ve seen a Taiko performance live, the energy is intoxicating, I never want the performance to end. I highly recommend listening to and seeing Taiko drumming.

Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque: Dan gave me this mask for Christmas. I had been wanting this mask for months and it has not disappointed me. It really helps to soften my skin with the cranberry seed exfoliation and adds a vibrancy to it. I’ve noticed how my sleeping and eating patterns can affect the quality of my skin and turn it sallow; this mask makes me look like a raw foodist.

Happy Friday! 

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Artist Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez Honey Baked Ham Adventure & Interview

ART, INTERVIEWS - November 24, 2016

Artist Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez went to Honey Baked Ham this morning and managed to hold on to his sanity by posting live updates. Johnny is a talented artist and extremely friendly person, but holiday lines are a whole other beast and Mr. Rodriguez is not to be messed with. I found his updates amusing, so I reached out to see if I could share them here and send a few follow-up questions.  Please excuse any typo’s in the Facebook posts, we’ve all been there.

Artist Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez Honey Baked Ham

Here is my follow-up interview with Johnny ‘KMNDZ’ Rodriguez to find out what happened next!

Q) How long was the official wait time?
A) Not proud to say but I believe I was in line for three hours. Gross right?

Q) How many hams did you order?
A) As I finally made it into the store I picked up a big bag of Hawaiian rolls. Got to the register and the lady asked how she can help me. I replied “Just the bag of rolls please”, she looked shocked. Thought about it and let out a big laugh. I ended up with a single ham that fed seven people. Love left overs!

Q) Where are you spending Thanksgiving and with you, where is this ham going?
A) Well, the hams going into my belly! I’ll be staying home this year, breaking bread with my lady and my kiddo.

Q) What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
A) I’m thankful I can stand in a three hour line and afford to buy… No finance a seven pound ham. We got it good here in the states and I’m thankful for that.

Q) Will you be practicing your resting bitch face more?
A) Hell Yes! I found a resting bitch face workshop. Heard the line was around the block to get in.

Resting Bitch Face Academy

Doodle by artist, Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez, post Honey Baked Ham experience.

Thank you to Johnny for this fun quick interview and I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving!

Lastly, my holiday PSA. As we are now officially in the crazy holiday season, I encourage everyone to all keep your head on straight and some humor in your hearts. Also, be kind to sales people, working in customer service sucks, but someone has to do it.

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