Art Hounds: The Black Experience, Ficciones Typografika, and tattoo art

"Venus Tatooed" by Nick Sinclair. (Image courtesy of the artist)
Venus Tatooed
"Venus Tatooed" by Nick Sinclair. (Image courtesy of the artist)

Jessica Paxton is a radio host and show promoter/booker in Northfield. She's excited to see Nick Sinclair's new exhibit:

This Saturday, Aug. 31 from 6-9 p.m., local artist Nick Sinclair will present "Lost Souls Found Art," a new exhibit at High Noon Tattoos and Gallery in Northfield. In the exhibit, Sinclair (an established 'hot rod' and tattoo artist whose work is reminiscent of vintage work by Ed Roth) takes classic pieces of 'found' art (photographs, paintings, prints) and applies detailed penciled tattoos to the characters featured in the piece. Examples include "Mona Lisa," "The Birth of Venus," and "Head of John The Baptist" -- even an old sepia tone post-mortem photo of Clell Miller, one of the members of the infamous James Younger Gang who was shot following the attempted raid of the First Bank of Northfield in 1876. Sinclair calls these "tattooed versions of classic masterpieces."

Sinclair is also the mastermind behind the 8th annual "Lowbrow High Octane" in Northfield, which celebrates hot rod art, music and culture. This year's event takes place Friday, Sept. 20, in downtown Northfield.

I'll admit, I have no "tatts" and am not a biker/hot rod chick — but Sinclair's work is beautifully detailed and pays homage in a sometimes "tongue-in-cheek" manner to classic/vintage work in a way that elevates the relevance of this oft-considered "low brow" form of artistic expression. He takes traditional forms and turns them upside down. And he brings generations of people together, from all walks of life, to experience something they might otherwise avoid or even feel intimidated by.

Alysha "Ms. F'n Write" Price, writer and journalist, will be at The Black Experience at Honey in Northeast Minneapolis tonight:

Visual Stimulation awaits! The Black Experience brought to Minneapolis by 4SEEN Magazine is the opportunity to share in the struggle, victory and freedom of African Americans through several art forms. Fifty years ago this week the legendary "I Have A Dream" speech was delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in hopes of empowering African Americans to pursue equal rights and freedom. Although, the challenge is still amongst us, The Black Experience is a chance to exercise freedom — freedom to celebrate our culture beyond the month of February.

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Five local African-American artists -- Kenneth Caldwell, Norsha Roland, Ron Brown, Leslie Barlow and Lorenzo Crocket -- come together to share their experiences using images pulled from African-American history and feelings of living as an African-American. I'm eager to see how I might connect with the art work through my personal experiences and to have enriched conversations with other African-Americans in a relaxing environment.

This event will couple history and healing with a comforting soundtrack of hip hop music provided by the established Mashwell Brothers. The music of the evening will help to bring the party-goers into the minds of the artists, setting the mood for creating new experiences. 4SEEN Magazine's mission is to shed light on art, music and life by providing settings in which African Americans are viewed in a positive manner. The Black Experience excites me as it will be a platform for networking with young cultured adults who enjoy hip-hop. This is Ms. F'n Write telling you I'm not going to miss The Black Experience!

Visual artist and prop/wardrobe stylist Jenny Jenkins urges you to check out Ficciones Typografika:

Ficciones Typografika is a public art project dedicated to typographic exploration, curated by graphic designer and Minneapolis College of Art and Design professor Erik Brandt and shown in an alley in Powderhorn Park. A simple 72 x 36" board that holds three vertically oriented posters, it showcases work by artists and designers from all over the world, and often results in interestingly complex collisions of image and content.

Much of the brilliance of the project derives from the very lack of didactics or any unifying theme beyond Brandt's professed interest in "typographic fiction," the use of type as image or pure form. The name "Ficciones Typografika" is a nod both to Jorge Luis Borges and to old Czech typographic guilds, a blending of the fantastic and the pragmatic. Brandt's rather loose curation, with posters contributed by artists of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, allows the viewer to create a personal narrative from the three side-by-side images. The current selection features three images by a young designer from Singapore, Darius Ou, which employ lyrics from an old Back Street Boys song, "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely." Taken out of context and with their source undisclosed, the words form an unsettling provocation to unsuspecting passers-by.

The work featured in Ficciones Typografika changes frequently, often weekly. The posters are wheat-pasted outdoors in a manner reminiscent of ads and announcements one might encounter on streets in Europe and Africa, where Brandt spent much of his youth. This impermanence, like the starkness of the inexpensive monochromatic prints and the way they deteriorate with exposure to the elements, is quite intentional, a seductive contrast to the sleek, finished quality of most printed or screen-based contemporary graphic design.

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