The Spellout

Art, Culture & Unavoidable Spite

Category: About a Spellout (page 1 of 8)

Augustine Kofie Shapes the New

AKofie by urbanartcore.eu

Originally published as part of MSN.com’s “Fresh Perspectives” series, April 2011

If you must give Augustine Kofie something, give him something old. “There’s so much out there, in the past,” says the 37-year-old artist. “We live in an age where there’s so much new technology and new information, but there’s still so much old stuff that’s great, too. That’s my whole life, being a vintage futurist. I love my new stereo, but I also have a reel-to-reel player.”

And even though Kofie owns a computer and has easy access to all the sophisticated illustration tools it offers, when it comes time to draw a circle or square, he reaches for his vintage drafting tools and he uses them to produce otherworldly abstractions like none you’ve seen before. A Kofie piece can be a mass of sharp interlocking forms floating on a background of muted earth tones, with more of the more vibrant colors trapped in soft, rolling shapes … or it can be something else entirely. Kofie’s art has personality enough to change its mood, sometimes while you’re looking right at it. And it does indeed look futuristic while also seeming old, like snapshots of a forgotten World’s Fair.

“I like combining things that don’t seem like they’re supposed to be mixed,” says Kofie. “I’ve been drawing in this style for so long now that I can just kind of go off my head and build something from the ground up.”

Kofie builds his pieces in a variety of settings. More often than not he’s working in his studio, which sits on a hill above L.A. (“it’s really quiet; it’s amazing”), but sometimes you’ll find him plotting his beguiling abstractions on city walls. While not as active in the street art community as he once was, he remains committed to it.

“Street art is just a really tough art form for people to digest sometimes, and I’ve held with it and kept it and I really believe in it,” says Kofie. He’s a bit cagey about his street work – “There’s still a risk factor in doing it out there and I’m well aware of it, the illegal activity of it” – but he does confess to his love of transforming abandoned buildings and drawing the occasional freehand circle on a nice, rectangular wall.

“You have to really balance yourself and have control of your arm; it’s called can control,” says Kofie. “You have to pre-think of everything you’re going to sketch out. People can’t paint like that. I mean, I can because I’m six-foot-two, have a pretty wide arm span, and I’ve paid attention to the fact that my body can be, in essence, a compass.”

For Fresh Perspectives, Kofie was asked to use that human compass to create two pieces on the themes of Empowerment and Escape, both of which resonate through the whole of Kofie’s work and sense of being. “I understand empowerment because I’ve basically empowered myself — I started my own business, I didn’t go to art school, I didn’t go to business school. And because my work is so involved and there are so many layers and so much depth to it, I feel like when I work on the pieces I shut out reality. I’m in my studio, playing music, and I’m just letting my work do what it needs to do. It’s still in the midst of everything, but my studio is an escape for me.”

The way Kofie speaks about his studio, it’s obvious that it’s his second heart. In his studio are paintings waiting to be begun or revised, and of course, a bunch of vintage drafting tools he picked up at estate sales.

“I’m an old soul,” says Augustine Kofie. “I’m inspired by the things that people kind of forget about.”

KeepDrafting.com

Keep Drafting @ Flickr

Keep Drafting @ Vimeo

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PHOTO BY URBANARTCORE.EU/CREATIVE COMMONS

From the valley of Goodreads

Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in SpiritsBoozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spirits writers are, pardon the pun, usually dry in nature; it’s all terroir this, tannins that. Jason Wilson writes about these things, but in a personable way that makes them readily understandable to laypersons. This is, for all intents and purposes, a biography and travelogue with drink recipes — and goddamn if it doesn’t make you want to stock up on absinthe and Luxardo, while taking a bat to the flavored vodka aisle. Strongly recommended, even for intermittent drinkers. Have rarely read better prose about the joys of flavor.

View all my reviews

The Continuing

Because it will be

Laugh, my friends. Laugh with me, laugh for me, because I dream your dreams. — Georges Méliès

Today is my birthday. I usually try to write something about my state of mind on my birthday, but today the muse is stuck in traffic. Besides, the estimable Pj Perez wrote something wonderful about me this morning and I don’t want to put my fluffy miserablism in front of it. The man says I’m worthwhile, and seeing as he creates some great graphic novels and music — AND he owns his home — I’m going to defer to him today, tomorrow and possibly for the next six months or so. You’re a proper gentleman, Pj, and I ain’t just saying that to prove that I’m a good person because I’ve surrounded myself with people of character. But if y’all believe that to be true, I’m not about to dissuade you.

My birthday, my birthday. I guess it’s customary to want things today, to expect tribute for having made it through another year without succumbing to a paint-huffing habit. As it happens, this birthday falls in the middle of a transitional phase for me, and I’m not entirely sure I know what I want anymore; even the spray paint and paper bag aren’t off the table. But I do know that I want my friends and loved ones — the people who walk, talk and clink stemware with me without judging my life or condemning my mistakes — I want those folks to feel as loved and supported by me as I am by them.

I want you, savage reader (if you’re reading this, odds are good that you’re my friend — or an editor, judging the relative qualities of my “blogging voice”), to have a year of solid-gold inspiration and platinum card sexy sex. I want you to feel confident in your every action, comforted in your every sadness, lively in your every cell. I want you to be happy and loved as you’ve loved on me and made me happy, ya big lug. I want you to meet me on the street tomorrow, say “I’m good” and fucking mean it.

That’s all I want for this, my 45th birthday. I’ve had some terrific birthday parties in the past and I’ll have some in the future, but today, I’m content to sit at the edge of the cake and dip an occasional finger in the frosting. You go ahead and swim in the love and glory. I’ll join you soon.

Hello Apocalypse

The Martians

I’m at the Beat, enjoying side one of “Pretzel Logic” and the company of a few good friends. I just polished off a large latte and a breakfast sammich (tip: get in on a pretzel instead of a croissant). Talk has lightly turned to Gay Cthulhu, as it will.

This is week two of an extended work visit. I’ll be in Las Vegas through January 15, writing for Vegas Seven and <redacted>. On January 16 I’ll help my parents to pack a moving van and move to Central Florida, but I’ll cross that country when I come to it. Today, I’m simply a guy who’s trying to get a running start on this new year, which too many people at least halfheartedly believe will be our last.

I wrote a piece about the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar for the 3WG show. It covered most of the points I wanted to cover regarding that topic: that our universe is cyclical, you oughta be good to yourself, and the very idea of “end times” is some silly bullshit. One of these days I’ll type it into this blog; for now it only appears in the red Moleskine notebook I carry with me. But I did want to pop in here and tell you that I believe in this year more than I believed in the last one, and I think many of you are feeling the same way. We might just will this thing into reality, like the Mayans did when they dreamed of the pyramids and the microwave oven.

So, y’know, happy new year. I’m fairly confident that I’m using that phrase as an imperative. We’re going to do this one right, because we think we can.

 

Three Wise Guys: A History

TWG in DLV

On December 28, 2011, I’ll fly down to Las Vegas to see my friends Dayvid Figler (that’s him in the middle) and Gregory Crosby (on the right). After we’ve had enough drinks and shot an acceptable amount of shit, we’ll lock arms and march on the P3 Gallery at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where our friend Jerry Misko is currently the artist-in-residence. And at 7 p.m., surrounded by Misko’s art and probably less people than we’d hoped would turn out, Crosby, Figler and I will do something we’ve done many times before: We will date the same girl perform a holiday-themed spoken word reading. Dayvid will tell his hilarious and poignant Vegas stories; Gregory will recite his exemplary poetry and prose with great dignity and gravitas; and I’ll do whatever it is that I do. The full event details are here. And you should come if you can, because the odds are we’ll never do this again.

Gregory, Dayvid and I first got the idea for a trio reading in 1995. At the time we were all popular Vegas writers in our individual ways. We greatly admired each others’ work, and we were good friends before velour abuse and dalliances with Nancy Sprungen drove a wedge between us. And we alighted on the idea of a winter holiday-themed reading because the three of us came at the holidays from entirely different angles: Jew, lapsed Jehovah’s Witness, 1940s movie buff. So we booked the outdoor stage at the late, lamented Enigma Garden Café through our dearly missed mutual friend Julie Brewer, and The Three Wise Guy was born.

(We chose the “Three Wise Guys” name under the gun. We needed to give Andy Hartzell a name so he could get a poster done. We never dreamed that cheesy sobriquet, with its flip subhead “They came from the West bearing frankincense, myrrh and beer,” would begin the modern-day War on Christmas, which has by now claimed billions of lives. So, we’re sorry?)

The Enigma reading was successful enough to make the Wise Guys readings into an annual event for a time. We chose a new venue for each reading: the Arts Factory, Jazzed, the Double Down Saloon, the Michael Graves-designed Flamingo Library, and Café Espresso Roma. Then, in early 2002, Dayvid’s law career jumped into overdrive, Gregory moved to New York, and I moved to Seattle.

We took the opportunity afforded by the forced hiatus to work through our feelings of intense seething hatred towards each other. We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but the same team of lawyers and PR flacks that convinced The Police to reunite for the money got us to agree to perform one more holiday-themed spoken word show at the Griffin in downtown Las Vegas in December 2009.

Well, as soon as we saw each other, it was just like old times. Gregory said, “Good for you, Carter, you’re not quite as fat as the last time I saw you.” I spat on his wingtips, and Dayvid ignored the both of us to sext on his Blackberry. We put on the show for a capacity crowd who thought they were getting a Pj Perez reading, then we threw ourselves under separate limousines.

That brings us to 2011, and our last show. We’re doing this one for you, the fan(s). This is to be our Abbey Road; we want to make it the artistic grace note that compels you to say, “They were mostly pretty good, I guess. ‘Specially when Figler was up.” After this spectacular night — our first show on the Strip, framed by the art of a true Vegas success story, with a bar serving vodka-based drink specials named after us — well, we don’t know how we can top that, or if we can be together even one more time. Dayvid, Gregory and I are past the point we can do this for you and pretend that we don’t want to bite the curb when we have to talk to each other. We’ve even made provisions in our wills that we won’t be buried on the same continent together. We drew straws and I got stuck with Micronesia.

So I hope you’ll come see us perform together on December 28 at the Cosmopolitan’s P3 Gallery, 7 p.m. I still love Dayvid’s and Gregory’s work, even if I’ve flirted with having contracts put out on their lives, and I gotta admit that my abject hatred of those bastards has spurred me to write some pieces good enough to shame them. And oh yeah: Mike Upchurch, the Emmy-winning writer of The Chris Rock Show, Mad TV and Mr. Show, is tentatively scheduled to perform a few minutes of opening stand-up that will surely illustrate how unprofessional and unfunny the three of us are by comparison. It’s going to be sick. Somebody might wet himself, and this time, it isn’t going to be me.

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