Monday Night Mash-up: 5 Favorite Artists

Okay, so first and foremost–this list was surprisingly hard to make. Not because I struggled to find five artists worthy of deeming my favorite, but because I limited the number to just five. One of the beautiful things about art for me is that it has the ability to impact my life in a variety of ways, and the range of art only adds to the range of areas in my life it inspires and intrigues. Another things I love is the magnanimity of what falls under the umbrella term of ART. Each artist has a style, and a form, a medium and a message, and each one has come into my life at just the right time, filling in some gap in my world that needed a bit of creative filler. These artist draw materials that range from canvas to skin, with colors drawn from all ends of the spectrum. These are my fave five, which are yours?

1. Banksy. A very well known street artist out of Europe (let’s be honest, is there anyone who hasn’t heard of him?), who specializes in political works–generally stencil but sometimes free-form–that most often convey some kind of bold message. I think the style is passionate and raw, and comes from a daring, yet coy creator. I believe it is still a mystery as to his (or her?!) true identity–though speculations have recently been made.

To me Banksy is just highly visually appealing. The pieces are simple, and yet very masterfully created. I have The Girl With The Balloon, a very popular Banksy piece, tattooed on my forearms, as well as printed on large formatted canvas on my bedroom wall.


2. The French tattoo artist Xoil. It is my life goal to get a tattoo by this man. The works are unlike anything I’ve seen before–just beyond imagination. He mixes regular images with geometric shapes to create pictures that invoke feelings of wonderment, mixed with a slight feeling of being disturbed. The colors are mostly primary and black, the topics of interest usually something slightly circus-esque.

I stumbled across the work of Xoil while browsing tattoo websites on the internet, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the statement pieces he creates, and you can really feel a sense of personality–he obviously puts a lot of his own heart, soul, and ideas into his tattoos, which for me adds greatly to the feel.


3. This art is from a Japanese anime film called Five Centimeters Per Second.
The film is directed by Makoto Shinkai, but the art itself is done by various people. It is both animated and drawn-out art, which is what helps create the immense beauty. The color scheme is breath-taking, and the choice of scenery and natural content is unsurpassed. Honestly, the first time I watched this film (I have a tendency to latch on to anime films and watch them again and again), I was nearly moved to tears by the work of art.


4. Brian Viveros: female painter extraordinaire. Another artist I have been familiar with for many years, Viveros portrays women in very provocative ways, challenging gender stereotypes while at the same time highlighting others. His paintings are very similar, yet each of them holds its own certain charm. The women look tough yet coy, seductive yet intimidating to every degree.

I think the women are all very lovely, and the mixing of American memorabilia, tattoo art, and natural elements creates very impacting art to me. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be a badass woman with awesome plant-hair?


5. Minjae Lee: aka, my newest obsession. She is a young South Korean artist who mixes paint and illustration to create some of the most amazing pieces I have ever seen. The precision of her work pairs with the intense color-black and white mix to make insanely beautiful pieces. Always a portrait of a woman, always conveying some sad, or brooding, or mysterious emotion, always mixed with geometry, and color (and did I mention it was intense?!) What else can I say? This. Is. IT. 


It is very important for an artist to be able to appreciate another artists work; in fact, I would argue that it is one of the greatest ways to gain inspiration and motivation. As I stated, there are so many other artists who could have made this list, but what’s important is that a little bit of the beauty that the world has to offer can be spread and appreciated, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.


Show I Must See at Reno Art Works


This show at Reno Art Works looks fascinating! I missed the reception (it was last night and I was almost certain I had been hit by a bus, my sinuses hurt so much), but the display is up through the 30th, so I’ll be checking it out soon! Has anyone gone to see this yet? I would love opinions and feedback.

Sneak Peek: A preview of my next Profile

Coming soon: A talk with artist Bryce Chisholm


At the beginning of this semester at UNR, I required an elective class and grappled with the decision of either creative writing, or painting. I love creative writing, and since Journalism is my emphasis choice, a writing class seemed, well, logical. Here’s where the stubbornness of the Morgan-psyche came in though. You see, I’ve taken creative writing courses before, and writing is something that comes fairly naturally to me. But painting was entirely new. In fact, the only time I had previously picked up a brush, I put it down immediately and began using my fingers (sounds like preschool, but it was actually last semester as a final project). So the Devil’s Advocate in me decided to go for the challenge, and push myself to try new things.

It has been nearly all of the semester, and I can honestly say I’m glad I chose the road less-travelled. Painting for me is frustrating and complex, yet invigorating and beautiful. It offers me an escape from the left brain for 5 hours a week, and exercises the neglected right brain for a strange sense of completion. I have no complaints (except for the fact that my perfectionist nature takes some details way too far), and in fact encourage people to go out and try the same thing.

My favorite (okay one of my favorite) parts about the class actually doesn’t have anything to do with the class itself though–technically. One of the best parts about going to class is that I get to walk through the Church Fine Arts infamous stairwell. Okay, maybe it’s not actually famous, but it should be, because there is some really nice art in there. Miscellaneous and well know people alike pass through the stairwell, pick up a can of spray paint or a colored pen (these items are left conveniently in the stairwell, in case a random moment of inspiration should come over a passerby), and just do art. I have seen some of the most fascinating and moving pieces within this stairwell, and one of the great things is that it always changes.

Art lives on fluidity. 

So, last Thursday night, in passing through the stairwell, I noticed a new piece and stopped briefly to admire. It was very well thought out and conducted, with bright, balanced colors and complementary content. It was a mix between freestyle spray paint and stenciling, and I truly loved it. I went on, not thinking about the piece much until (fate, or luck, or whatever should have it) the artist himself stumbled across my blog, and we marveled over the unlikely connection. I told him I treasured his work, and hoped I would soon be able to pick his brain to find out how he creates such lovely works of art.


Coming up soon I’ll be exploring the world of Bryce Chisholm and showcasing a wider variety of his work, so keep watching for the story to unfold!


This photo shows part of the stairwell, revealing just how full of art it really is. (Look at the kitty!)

This photo shows part of the stairwell, revealing just how full of art it really is. (Look at the kitty!)

Monday Night Mash-up: Top 5 Reno Art Sites

When it comes to the art scene in Reno, the growth is surprisingly promising. When it comes to the resources to find and connect with the art scene however, the pickings are pretty slim. There are a few very valuable sites that I go to constantly when searching for upcoming events, artists, and community gatherings that are most important to me, and I think that in sharing these sites, I can hopefully help spread the word about the richness of the Reno art scene.

  1. RAW Artist Reno is my top, because it shows that the small city of Reno is worthy of being involved in some pretty big name things. RAW has over 78 locations worldwide, so it’s really exciting that Reno has the honor of being apart of that. The site includes information about art, music, fashion, film, hair/makeup, photography, and performing arts, all done locally here in Reno. They host shows that not only allow the artists to show off their work, but also to sell it, and network with other artists or enthusiasts from here and abroad.
  2. Art Spot Reno is a very interesting site I came across a while ago that has proven to be very useful to me. It is a website (and Android App!) that allows the user to search the Reno-Sparks area for art galleries, studios, museums, and much more, that encourages people to interact and add information. The site was set up in an effort to promote the art scene in Reno, hoping to spread the word and spark a new wave of activity in all forms. I’ve used it a lot to find big name galleries, as well as small galleries I hadn’t heard of before. Now I’m just waiting for the i Phone App; then I’ll be in business.
  3. Reno Art Works: this is an awesome resource when it comes to anything connected to Reno Art. There is a page for the number of local artists who participate and contribute–including some of their work and how to contact them–an event calendar that showcases all of the activities they are having in the community, and places to contact them, as well as buy the works of admired artists. It is a nice source for highlighting the local talent, but it is also a great place to get involved, as they offer rentable workshop space for anyone interested in becoming a part of their little family.   
  4. The City of Reno page actually has a surprising useful and interesting Arts and Culture page, which discusses things like ArtTown, resources for events and contributors, and updates about community meetings and events to update the city for the expansion of the arts. This is definitely a more useful hub for artists themselves, as it gives connections directly to the city and what it is doing to promote the growing scene.
  5. Lastly, but certainly not least, is the Art Museums and Galleries page on the Reno-Sparks Wiki page. This is a no fluff, info-only resource that gives the names and locations of a number of the local art hubs, as well as a map that provides for easy navigation. It is an easy to use site, and if you see any issues or mistakes, you yourself can just go in and change them, which again provides accuracy as well as participation within the community.

As I said earlier, there isn’t a lot in the way of information when it comes to Reno Art, but as these links (and this blog!) show, there are people out there who care to spread the word and participate in this lush art environment.

Have another link or resource? Show it to me! I’m always looking for more useful places to find out what’s going on in my community and how I can get involved; now you can help!

Van Gogh is at the Nevada Museum of Art, right?

Nevada Museum of Art

I went to the Nevada Museum of Art the other day to see Van Gogh, so naturally I spent two hours wandering everywhere else. If you’ve ever been to the museum (and if you haven’t, you really need to go), you know that there is a huge number of rooms spread out over three floors–four if you count the roof gallery, but that was empty now–with a variety of themes and mediums that range all over the spectrum. I took to the stairs, promising that I would lightly browse elsewhere; I was on a mission to find Van Gogh, but the other rooms beckoned–as they always do–and I immersed myself in the many worlds of art.

The first floor: a Nevada theme. Varied mediums that reflect the beauty of Nevada’s culture and environment, done throughout the time by natives and visitors, too. I’ll admit, I’m not particularly moved by works done about deserts, as it’s something I see quite a lot, but a few pieces were truly great. For instance, there was The Woodpile, by Jacob Getlar Smith, done in 1937. It is soft and fogy, making me feel like I was lounging against a tree in some Southern shade. Had I seen this before? I sat on the bench across the painting, immersed in its mystique writing in my journal (which always seems to make other people nervous)–this is exactly why I love art.

My current journal that goes everywhere with me

My current journal that goes everywhere with me

Down the hall I found myself drawn into what is called the Media Gallery. It is a dark room, which generally has some form of media playing, be it a short film or an animated clip. This exhibit was called Bloom. The room was empty, except for one small couch and a large television on the opposite wall, playing (on mesmerizing repeat) colorful circles; like droplets of water on the surface of an oil spill. I ditched the couch, standing so close to the monitor my mom would cringe. My shadow blocked out a portion of the piece and ruined it; just me in the center of the expanding infinite universe.

Second floor: finally! Van Gogh is here! But not just yet, I wandered down the hallway to the left, compelled to see everything on display. The room wasn’t memorable, but at the end there is a ledge that looks over to the first floor; a sign on the floor that said, “What Would Neil Young Do?” I had missed it the first time around–I knew I came in here for something. I also watched for a while, a young couple who I presumed really got art, because they stayed in each room for quite a while.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures, so this is the brochure

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, so this is the brochure

The moment of truth: The next exhibit was Van Gogh. I prepared myself the the magnanimity of the situation, took a deep breath, and walked into the room. Disappointment; on the very back wall hung one, lonely painting. It was of Van Gogh, but was it even by him? See, the story goes, that William Goetz, director and art collector, purchased a supposed authentic Van Gogh from a reputable dealer for $50,000, but the authenticity was for some reason challenged. The exhibit–rather than being the collection of paintings I had hoped for–turned out to be more of a murder-mystery-style set up, debating whether or not the painting was truly Van Gogh. Really?

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about the let-down, but I wandered the room hoping to find something worthwhile. Is that samba music I hear? Strange, I thought, to put samba music with Van Gogh, so I followed it, looking for the source. I walked to the door, the sound getting louder, and looked out: there was a snowcone machine! Set up outside the exhibit, as a part of the El Museo del Barrio partner gallery; now that’s my kind of art. There was color, and sound, formal art and simple street style all in one place. I went inside.

I had a few favorites, one of which was a large grouping of flip-flops, arranged in multiple circles inside of themselves. They were all an aqua-blue color, but instead of having plastic straps, they were all constructed with barbed-wire (ouch!). Then, on one entire wall, there was the cardboard signs of a street-side artist, who spends his time outside of Tiffany’s in New York City. Each sign was clever and ironic, making a stab at mass culture, or some political issue, or just being a struggling actor. My favorite sign? Make Tacos Not War.

I love the Nevada Museum of Art, and every time I go there’s something new for me to gush over. I love the mix of traditional and modern art, of locals and artists from all around. It is a rich art environment that always inspires me, and reminds me of the value and perfection of art. I may have been disheartened by the presentation of Van Gogh, but there was so much else to look at, I hardly noticed. A big gallery for a small city; how can we be so lucky?

Do It mYself: Decorating on a Budget

In just under two months I’ll be moving to Seattle (new food, new people, new ART!), and in light of that, I’ve been brainstorming on some home décor ideas. I currently have a theme started that centers around a grouping of Banksy canvas prints I have hanging, which inspire the rest of the room to follow a palate of essentially grey, black, and red. Now, if it were up to me—or should I say if it weren’t so up to my dwindling bank account—I would run out and order a few more street-art prints, maybe some ironic pillows from Urban Outfitters, and call it good; but, that’s not the case, and I’m stuck designing on a budget.

It sounds horrific at first (queue dramatic thriller music), but with the Internet, and an imagination that never really grew-up, I’ve become quite proficient in everything Do It Yourself. I love the movement—and I think Pinterest proves that it is definitely moving—I love what it stands for, and I love what it inspires people to do. You see, it’s not just the idea of having trendy-chic items in your home; it’s all about making them.

What I think this does (beyond just giving us freaking awesome looking houses), is remind people the value of hard work, dedication, and a final rewarding payoff. Technology has inspired in the world a sense of entitlement; an instant-gratification-generation of people who have forgotten the importance of the craft, of art. Even a simple home project (like the one I did today!) can exercise the artistic side of the brain and offer a creative outlet; all the while being a blast and giving a handmade, self-made product that you can be proud to show in your home. So why not? Go out and DIY!

As I said, the project I did was simple, cheap, but above all fun and rewarding. Allow me to introduce, the Tissue Paper Pom Pom. Now this is by no means a new craft (in fact, I did the same thing a few years ago in pink!), but it is always a favorite of mine, because these things look great when they are finished. A few tools, a few steps, and one super new décor item.

Photo: Flikr

The first thing you need is materials. You’ll need:

  1. Tissue paper, any color.
  2. Floral wire (as you can see my desperate lack of resources resulted in me using twisty-ties, it worked just the same).
  3. Scissors.


Step one: stack eight sheets of tissue paper, cut to size (I recommend downsizing; I left mine as-is and they were really big!). Make 1 1/2 in accordion folds hamburger-side, making sure to crease with each fold.


If your folds don’t line up perfectly, don’t worry! Mine were a bit uneven but at the end you can’t even tell. Make sure you are creasing well, because it adds to the charm later on.

Step two: take your floral wire (or in my case, produce ties), fold it in half, slip it over the paper to the center and twist.


Step three: cut the ends of the paper into either rounded, or pointed edges, depending on the look you desire. Mine are rounded, but I like pointy just the same.


Step four: this is the slightly challenging part (for me at least), but now separate the layers, pulling from the center one at a time. Just make sure to be gentle, because this stuff really tears!


Step five: fluff and finish; you’re all done! Now you can take some string, attach it to your wire, and hang your new custom decoration from anywhere!


These look great alone, but I like to make a few and hang them in groups, because it allows for variation and added color.

The whole project takes maybe twenty minutes, but what you get at the end is a lot more than just a new item; you gain a sense of satisfaction that can only be achieved through working with your hands, exploring your own talents and abilities, and coming out with the confidence of knowing that you are able to make something cute, artsy, and all your own.

Brain picker: a few ART favorites

In light of my recent post on the definition of art, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites from around the web. Much like the art I make, the art I enjoy varies, and the style depends strongly on my mood; that’s one of my favorite things about art though, it’s such a distinctly human entity, always capable of change. This list has been found and collected over the past few years, and every time I go back through it, I’m reminded of where I was in life, and how art helped me in a time that was truly rough. Therein lies the beauty of the depth and expression that is art. 

These are in no particular order, and are just a few of the many wonderful things I have come across over time.

  1. Minjae Lee is a young South Korean artist who combines illustration with paint to create moody, intense works that evoke wonder and emotion. The depth of color and grey reflects the dichotomies that make up the world. For me, the works are just plain stunning; I’m moved by the blacks, and uplifted by the wondrous colors. A great collaboration of her work can be found here.
  2. I found Brian Viveros longest ago, and even after a few years, the art still moves me. The darkness of the paintings couples with the dark content to form perfect tonality. The women are all mirror images, yet each one has a different history, different emotions and different surroundings, making each very unique and worth looking at. There is a sense of sadness that undertones each work, and I think at times, I am attracted to the pieces because I can so closely relate. His work is collected here.
  3. When it comes to watercolor, Marion Bolognesi is at the forefront in my mind. It’s not the immense detail that is used which stands out, but the haunting lack-thereof–The eery portrayal of only eyes, or eyes and a mouth, create a mystified and moving work, which easily looks into the viewer’s mind and being. Somehow, the lack of completion lends to the power in the pieces, and each time I view them, I am incited to a new depth of emotion and thought. A nice collaboration of work can be found here.
  4. Lastly is a really great collective page of a huge number of artists, each worth adoration in his own way. These works are largely surreal, which tends to be my style all around. It may take a few minutes to scroll through and appreciate them all, but it is absolutely worth every second of time. Some of them are adaptive of nature, some are interpretive of Star Wars and classic literature stories, and some are just plain quirky, fun, and weird (like me!).

These are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my definition of art, but that’s a beautiful thing! The world is massive, and tastes, and inspirations are all different, and all dependent on where we are, who we are, and what we want to convey and become. Art is not only unique in itself, but is unique to each person making it and viewing it as well. We take away what we want, and then give it again in what we pass on to the world next. So I suppose you could say this is my art, and what I’m passing on is the consolation and inspiration I have found here before.