a letter from the founder // goodbye cultureisland

it was two years ago that i stared out at a magnificent sky in iceland and realized i wanted more for myself. at age 25, i was at a crossroads, caught between the desire to live a fulfilling life, yet unsure how to actually live one. at that time, i thought that having my own apartment and securing a well-paying job at a distinguished company meant i had it all. and yet i felt like i had nothing. at that time, my lack of confidence was all-encompassing. i didn’t know what i stood for or who i was a person. so, i broke down.

for too long i struggled to understand my own creativity and where i fit into the world. on one hand, i was totally inspired by the work of others, but i finally wanted to create things myself. for whatever reason, i never found my chosen medium even though i made art my whole life and went to art school.

still i decided it was time to forge my own path. all i had to do was start somewhere. i was scared shitless and totally excited. finally, i was ready to become the person i wanted to be my entire life: someone who didn’t just dream up life plans, but instead, someone who made things happen for herself, everyday, and outside of her day job. it hasn’t been easy to dedicate myself to that kind of life but i haven’t looked back ever since.

in the beginning, getting started on a new path was tough. i had no idea where to begin and i had to make sacrifices. i cut back on my social life, on time with friends, and on dating. i also had to manage my finances better, and cut my spending on eating, drinking and clothing. managing the project with a full time job was a major challenge: i had to squeeze in my creative practice into a 40-hour work week. i spent every waking moment thinking about this project, and every early morning, lunch hour, weeknight, and weekend building this thing. i was crazy busy, but i was the happiest i had ever been.

the project itself was all over the place, but that was a good thing. i finally had the freedom to pursue my curiosities and whatever randomly interested me, with no restraints. i loved having the power to figure out where i wanted it to go. first, i started by interviewing inspiring people and captured our conversations on my website. i called these dialogues “small talks,” challenging myself to re-define that kind of informal, unimportant chatter we tend to avoid.

those conversations started as emails, then grew into phone calls, and later turned into studio visits, coffee meetings and more. i treasured time spent connecting with others, hearing about their journeys, plus sharing my own experiences. the more i spoke about my own creativity, the more confident i grew.

each dialogue was profound in its own way: an israeli designer shared how she translated the strife in her home country into the design of her handbags and accessories. moreover, two artists who had been divorced shared their vulnerability and art, which they used to re-define themselves and overcome something others deem a broken life. this even brought me clarity about my own parents’ divorce and helped me see that it was a positive thing.

my passion project became my very own school of life: every person i interviewed taught me invaluable lessons about being vulnerable and open with the world, as well as how to use art to overcome dark times and rebuild oneself. each had a dedication to their craft that fascinated and inspired me to push forward on my own journey. many of those people became my friends and some, even became my collaborators. supporting their work, gave me a new network of people who supported and believed in mine.

then, through orchestrating events, i brought to life unique concepts by working with artists across disciplines and people from all industries. i realized that being a curator and a collaborator allowed me to touch diverse mediums without having to be skilled at them myself. furthermore, i raised money and awareness for various causes i believed in, and finally felt like i was doing some good for the world. in a way i felt like the conductor of a symphony, stringing together so many different parts and giving others a platform to share their work and causes.

curating and producing events tested my strengths: i learned how to pool my resources, that every person was a potential collaborative partner, and overcame my fear of reaching out to people i didn’t know to ask for what i wanted. overtime, hearing “no” became a good thing, and i began to see it as inspiration to keep going and find the yes’s and right people to work with. i became totally fearless in my creative pursuits and was shocked to find that people latched onto that. old friends and new people from all walks of life came to my events, and in turn, became friends themselves (some even dated!). somehow, i found and forged a community in a city i once felt overwhelmed and alone in. i was finally thriving and living the life i wanted.

through it all, i documented thoughts, feelings and inspirations. i shared my learnings often, announcing that both the project and myself were a “work in progress." i started writing, pushed myself to do it every day, and worked tirelessly to get my work eventually published. overtime, i became better and skilled at it because i didn't stop writing, and i started believing in what i had to say.

even the way i viewed my own body and beauty changed. i stopped getting my hair dyed, let my un-even eyebrows grow out, and embraced my quirky sense of style. i started to respect myself with men too, and stopped wasting time on those who didn't treat me well. i learned to stick up for myself. i was delighted to find other people appreciated my openness and connected with my journey. it inspired me to keep putting my vulnerability out there.

finally, i quit a job i didn’t feel myself in. quitting was an empowering experience because i was candid and honest with my former employer that my heart just wasn’t in it the job, and that both of us deserved more. ultimately, i landed a job writing every day, surrounded by positive, passionate people who are supportive of my creative pursuits.

through the process of this two-year project, i came to know who i am, and i started to love that person. through learning to ask others questions, i learned how to engage anyone, and i began to ask myself questions too. this helped me figure out what i want out of life, and gave me the courage to turn things down that didn’t feel right. i felt more in check with reality and better connected to the world at large. and while my life had finally become more than my job, i brought my new identity outside of work to my professional life, and it too flourished.

finally, i felt intellectually challenged because i challenged myself to learn and grow every day. overtime, my relationships with family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. improved drastically because i learned how to better connect with myself and them on a deeper level. i finally found my voice, and ultimately learned how to use it.

not only that, i realized that i am more than enough—today, i am proud to be a single, broke female who is still unsure of herself, yet embraces every step of the journey. finally, i feel immense self-acceptance, respect, and allowance. i now know how to be more patient with myself and how to take a step back and give myself love, care and attention.

the thing is, a few months ago i started to burn out and my interests began to shift. for awhile now, there have been ways i wanted to build this project further, but have had trouble making them happen on my own. this summer i was exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically from so much outputting. i was drowning. so, after 2 years, over 30 interviews and 20 events, i decided i deserved a break. quickly, i realized there were other ways to be “productive,” and that taking in experiences was also a beneficial way to spend my time. i loved not having any events coming up, or being chained to posts i needed to share on my blog. i was free to just live my life for the first time in two years!

for many reasons, the last few months have been a period of profound growth in all areas of my life. but it took me taking a step back from this project to realize something major: i no longer need this project to be me and lead the creatively fulfilling life i now love. the ways this project pushed me, are now innate to my being.

with that said, i will be putting this project on hold for the time being, with the hope that some day i can pick it back up with more resources. now that i know how to put myself out there, i am excited to take more time for myself, and be more thoughtful in the creative work i do. since making that decision, i have been turning down opportunities left and right, and finally saying “no” to things. and it feels f*cking fantastic.

i am eternally grateful to those who read my interviews, came to my events, and supported me in this endeavor. you were my collaborators too and equally played a role in this project. i couldn’t have come as far as i did without the artists who opened up to me and gave me a chance to work together. thank you all for being part of my journey!

i hope anyone who reads this can see themselves in my experience, and finally do that something they've always talked about but never had the courage to make happen. know that the hardest part is starting somewhere, and it gets easier as you go. know that you can do it, and you will if you put your mind to it.

moving forward, i will be taking these lifelong learnings, and re-focusing my efforts on my writing and other projects. i now wake up everyday, and lead an artful, meaningful life i am proud to call my own. it was with the help of this project that i finally became the fearless me i always wanted to be, the person i always was deep down inside. along the way, i discovered so many self-truths. you listened. you showed up. and i'll never forget that.

thank you for reading, supporting, and believing in me,

p.s. did i mention that i am just getting started?

small talk // caroline griffin // full moon workshop + girl gang pdx

people can come into your life in some unexpected, magical ways. cultureisland taught me to stay open to that always. i first found caroline griffin's work through her instagram account, @girlgangpdx. there, she shares inspirational images and text that resonates with me. i am constantly screenshotting the stuff she shares. she just gets me. when i learned caroline also runs a supper club and events project in portland, AND was hosting one the weekend i was going to be in portland, i knew it was fate. caroline invited me to join, and write a poem about the supper club's theme, abundance. the event was magical, every aspect was special, and i loved taking in every detail of the experience while participating in a less active role than i was used to -- here i share the poem i wrote, and chat with caroline about her inspirations, struggles, and learnings. 


tonight we welcome you to an evening of abundance. 

what does it mean to live in abundance? to be abundant means to be plentiful, to be large, to be great. to be full.

here, allow yourself to feel full of life's wonder, mystery and curiosity.

here, allow yourself to feel free from expectations of yourself, and of others.

here, allow yourself to find confidence in your vulnerability, mistakes, and life's greatest uncertainty.

here, allow yourself to never stop learning, to ask questions, to think deeply.

here, allow yourself to feel full of light, energy and life.

tonight we invite you to bask in the warmth of your own bright and shiny soul. as well as that of your neighbor's.

you may have forgotten. you may not even realize. but you are beautifully abundant. and i hope, now, that you never forget that.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

caroline griffin: when i moved to ny in 2011, i decided i was going to teach myself to draw. i bought a pack of colored pencils from the art store off the graham stop and daily spent about 1-2 hrs drawing. a year later was offered a job at boddington's studio and realized that i didn't want to spend my life doing just one thing, all day. i lived in bushwick, brooklyn on cornelia street and my apartment was a live/work space we called atelier cornelia. i taught myself to draw, expanding into custom stationary and wedding suites, illustrations for businesses, events etc. the illustration market allowed to expand into more tangible stylistic opportunities, styled shoots and creating, design space. ultimately, my desire for tangible experiences, not just visual arts motivated me to create an experience with a longer lasting impression. i wasn't fulfilled by the simplicity of work. 

sometimes, major life change is the catalyst to major break through. i journeyed through one of the most difficult times in my life, rebuilt my life and stability from the ground upward. i moved back across the country to pdx, searched for a stable place to live and work and i dove into connecting with friends, collaborating on projects to find some source of release. there is a lasting impression with human relationships, co-creation and the power of collaboration - thus the retreat the full moon gathering workshop was created to give women, my peers, an opportunity to connect, do some emotional work, inspire creative growth and benefit from a new network.

cultureisland: tell us more about girl gang pdx.

caroline griffin: girlgangpdx is social media account dedicated to soulful inspiration and heartfelt encouragement of women and girls everywhere. it was initially inspired by kate nash's girlgang network out of la and it's grown into an online community. at the heart of the project is that it's a mood board of what inspires aesthetically me and what is emotionally, socially and creatively relevant to me. i celebrate women i think are inspiring, i share passages that i feel are benefit for all to have read at least once. its a place of transformation and its genre is ambiguous, posts shifts and changes as i evolve and the freedom in that is awesome. 

allison burt-tilden // alter created by psychic siamese terror at the full moon gathering workshop march 2015

allison burt-tilden // alter created by psychic siamese terror at the full moon gathering workshop march 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about full moon workshop.

caroline griffin: the concept originally was a 2-3 day retreat with the purpose of gifting women time and space to expand, pursue new dreams, relationships, friendships, and be guided to take action in leaving the old shit behind - the stuff that doesn't work. it was a weekend of breakthroughs at a the beach, at the sou'wester trailer park hotel and lodge in illwaco, washington. this amazing space allowed us to come in, take over the big red lodge and "make waves" with cool babes. after some tweak-age, the concept evolved into a supper club platform the plan was to host events in la and pdx. this platform offered us something more accessible, a condensed version of the retreat that allowed more women to come for a lower cost with less time commitment away from work, and responsibilities. 

as of today, were leaping into uncharted territory! jessica yelas of style opal and i are taking the idea to whole new level. wish us luck! full moon gathering workshop was a co-created, collaborative experience the women who attend make the experience what it is. the elements of magic, astrology, communication, discussion and the mini-workshop activities incorporated make the "working meal" transformative on many levels. its not so much about the woo-woo anymore, but rather an introduction to tangible ways of self and life improvement, no-bullshit, come as your best self and make real connections to do what you really love in life. the partnerships, businesses, friendships, creative opportunities that have come from it are nothing short of awe-inspiring. 

kara jean caldwell // full moon gathering workshop may 2015

kara jean caldwell // full moon gathering workshop may 2015

cultureisland: what is your process for creating events?

caroline griffin: anything that inspires me and whatever i am drawn to organically are my sources for event creation. i create experiences and dream up events i can't find. i look to create experiences that offer guests, participants a multi-sensory experience: touch, sound, smell, taste and feeling. i like events with multiple facets, be that vendor partnerships, collaboration, theme, color, sound or activities. i want events to have movement, an unpredictable (but realistic) flow, keeping people engaged. i don't think that is an easy task by any means and i am bored by the concept that food, alcohol and a cool venue are the only thing that draws a cool crowd. people want to experience new things. not to mention, i am sober almost two years now and i don't give a shit if there is beer or wine. i want to feel inspired by what i choose to go to, and i hope others are inspired by the events i orchestrate.

full moon supper club la // december 2016

full moon supper club la // december 2016

cultureisland: what lessons have you learned from organizing collaborative experiences?

caroline griffin: don't do business with your best friend. mixing professional and deeply personal relationships doesn't always work out. don't compromise your ideas, your heart or your desires for the sake of an event. be vulnerable, talk, challenge yourself and meditate on other peoples ideas before you allow your ego to speak. be brave. always adapt! make a contract, or document explaining each person's roles and what each collaborator is supposed to give to the job. leave no room for assumption about involvement. i've learned that experiences like the supper club - no matter how cool the concept has its own difficult challenges. the cost was a big one! our overhead was astronomical, like $250.00 a head for all parts and pieces. however our research showed that people would likely not pay more than $65-$85 a seat. it's rough finding ways to work within your means and encourage people to see the benefit in your offering. portland, as quickly as its growing still faces a challenge in convincing young people that art and live experiences are worth paying for. 

maria luna - full moon supper club la // april 2016

maria luna - full moon supper club la // april 2016

cultureisland: what words you life by?

caroline griffin: celebrate, support, inspire but mostly i live in a constant state of gratitude. 

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

cultureisland: what was your experience like organizing the abundance event?

caroline griffin: logistically, events can be a shit show. like an hourglass, time is ticking away quickly, counting down to go time and i just hope all the pieces fall into place. live events are unpredictable, something always go awry but its a coordinators ability to adapt to those last minute challenges that make it fun. the process of development is always fun, my favorite part is creating the concept, selecting the theme, writing materials, designing the schedule and the way the partnerships intertwine into the experience.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

for this event in particular had a kick-ass new producer, jessica yelas of the styleopal who called in the most amazing friends and talent. we had a workshop leader, erin libby who wrote the most beautiful activities, dr. jj purcell of fettle created and share her flower essence with us. wendy westerwelle knocked us out with hysterical wisdom and truths about living in gratitude, ale cassafranco of viola x cas and i came together morning of and created the tablescapes - organically, without previous discussion it was my favorite of any i had ever participated in. it beat every wedding i have done to date. my grandmothers blue and white china, and my selected rentals combined with her greenery and flower selections looked amazing. bottom line, selecting vendor partnerships, reaching out to the community and sharing the mission are all equal parts of the equation. it's a special practice to be vulnerable and ask for support and involvement.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

cultureisland: how do you hope to evolve full moon in the future? 
caroline griffin: full disclosure, after years or doing this and many sharp turns, i am going to re-brand the experience and start something new - similar in structure, but a new "brand" and name that builds on what the experience has been up 'til now. i am going to be diving head first into business partnerships and find ways to learn and grow with funding! there are event spaces being founded in pdx, groups being formed that make this project all the easier to catch on and create with.

adults generally dislike learning new things, it's an uncomfortable and annoying part of being in my infancy in this business venture. i have to do homework and find ways to reach a greater audience, discover design avenues to aesthetically match my vision and my mission. i am going to stick my nose to the grindstone and into my accounting books and find ways to save money. i learn as i go and business marketing is not my strength, creative concept is. i also need to find a strong team that works well together and demonstrates the values, the mission in their life, not just agrees with it cause girl power and feminist goals are buzz words and they lack friendship. i am going to partner with rad creatives (women and men) and make experiences that people are excited to be a part of.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

 cultureisland: what inspires you to create experiences and pursue passion projects?

caroline griffin: i want to love hard, cultivate the healthiest body and relationships i can, and that's it. everything else is a bonus. i want other people to feel loved, feel happy, feel inspired and feel good feelings. that is the pretty way of expressing what inspires me. i want to pursue things that spark my heart. the real truth, i hustle hard to create things because i have always had tough or super lame day-jobs, soul-sucking paying gigs that really bum me out. working in education, the legal system, office work that in most respects makes it hard to get out of bed and motivate. the goal which i believed in for so long is to have your passion be your paycheck, but for most that will not happen and we cannot convince people that if they don't make that happen, their work is less important or significant. that is an entitled and negative perspective. 
i do not have the luxury not to work, and i truly believe that no matter what your job is, it does not define who you are, who i am. that's some twisted societal b.s. willie nelson sold vacuum cleaners. erykah badu was a waitress. i mean, what you do at any point in your life for a dollar does not define who you are. it can absolutely feel that way and some days when i tell people what i do, i cringe inside. i am grateful for work, period and never take employment for granted

i need to pay for my life and support my family and pup. i find it humbling to go to a job 40+ hours a week and do my best, and my passion projects allow me to release my creativity, and positivity into the world in my free time. i create projects to keep me even keel, and help me remind myself that the world is plentiful and it's just a matter of time before i figure out the right recipe to not work for someone else. 

cultureisland: who are your favorite artists?

caroline griffin: georgia o'keeffe - were both from the land of enchantment, new mexico. shes been a icon of mine since i was young. james turrell - <3 no words. he's has an indescribable gift and intelligence. plus, petra collins and adwoa aboah.

* you can see more of caroline's work here and here *

art // windy chien

when i was in SF i had the opportunity to spend some time with artist windy chien. windy creates knot macrame work and has been doing "a new knot a day" project (she has declared 2016 a year of knots) in which she challenges herself to learn a new technique each day. windy says it's a lot like learning an entirely new language and the project has helped her improve and grow more confident in her work everyday. the medium allows her to modernize a traditional craft in a minimal, clean and new way. windy has had a unique journey -- she once owned a popular record shop and then worked for apple in the itunes department. eventually she decided to quit after wanting to get offline and create with her hands more. yet she didn't know what exactly she wanted to create, so she took a ton of classes in anything that interested her and ultimately found her chosen medium. today you can really see the bridge between technology, music and handicraft in her work, especially her pieces aptly titled "circuit boards." windy spoke a lot about the concept of giving oneself permission to leave identities behind and use past learnings to push forward and create a new "you." this concept really resonated with me. in the next few years, she plans to think bigger and create larger scale work. see more of her work here and follow her on instagram here.

club soda mix #2 // happy hour // music by wamoo

this is the second iteration of my club soda collab with my friend juan (wamoo). he has a new concert coming up next friday, august 19th called gramfest so click the link and check it out.

about this mix:

"happy hour is a mix about the trials of all kinds of work, capturing moments like being slammed with assignments at your day job while also trying to squeeze in your own work after hours. sometimes your happiest hour is the work you do for yourself, but learning how to dedicate yourself to that and squeeze it into your life while also trying to have a good time isn't easy. it's a lot of highs and lows. and you get better at managing it all as you go."

small talk // regina schilling // artist + founder of HEY LADY

i first met regina schilling on instagram and we immediately clicked. i loved her zines and doodles and she offered to send me a copy of her hey lady project in the mail. her note was was one of the most sentimental things i've ever received, even though we had never actually met in real life. it said, "i'm so inspired just knowing you and glad we've started the cool women doing cool things on the internet club." hey lady is a collaborative art project in which regina picks a woman who has made significant contributions and deserves to be remembered. she then reaches out to friend and woman artists across the world who are underrepresented or would be a good contributor. the submission process is through snail mail and in the process it promotes female friendship and correspondence. i was so honored to contribute to the latest issue, which focused on sister rosetta tharpe! this weekend regina is doing a hey lady art show in seattle, and my work is on display among many other ladies.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

regina schilling: i was born 3 days after halloween in new york. i arrived with green eyes, a deep love for daisies and a need to be in my room drawing drawings. i went to the school of visual arts and studied painting, but became more and more interested in works on paper and art books while i was there thanks to places like printed matter. it seemed more accessible and fun to be involved in non-precious items that you could share with lots of people. in that vain, i decided to start hey lady when i moved to olympia a couple of years ago. it's a way to collaborate with friends, motivate people to make things, meet new artists and celebrate cool women.

cutureisland: tell us more about your drawings

regina schilling: i like to draw as a way to catalog my thoughts, make funny commentary or just remember something beautiful i've seen. my drawings are quick, impulsive scribbles. sometimes they are more careful, but they are never done more than once. i want them to be funny, genuine and un-edited. sometimes i'm doing something else completely and all of a sudden i need to get a drawing down right away and it's feels very urgent. other times i will sit in front of journals and just force myself to fill them up.

cultureisland: do you focus on any specific subject matter?

regina schilling: my subject matter is generally things floating around in my brain. things that are happening to me or around me. certain images always creep up like daisies and coffee mugs. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work?

regina schilling: i'm inspired by colors, songs and current things happening around me. quiet unnoticed things and funny things and beautiful things. recently, i've been inspired by horror movies and have been re-watching all my favorites and finding new ones and drawing scenes from them. i'm making a cohesive-guide-to-horror-movies-that-don't-make-you-feel-like-shit-watching-them-as-a-woman. when feminism is mentioned in horror movies, people are always focusing on rape revenge movies. i hate watching those! i want this book to be both a reference guide for what movie to watch and also a collection of spooky art.

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

regina schilling: now that i work on art full time, there is a lot more art happening. instead of trying to fit in into my schedule, it is my schedule and i can work on a few things at once and play off of all of them. i am doing a series of giant oil paintings and i want to continue to focus on that. just having them take up more physical space gives them some special power, some seriousness. i used to resist that but now i want to embrace it. i've become better at recognizing what is working for me and what isn't and throwing out ideas and changing them. last year, i joined instagram and my consciousness for the audience who will see my work has helped it grow as well. i mean, in a lot of ways, my work is very similar to how it was when i started as a teen. it's personal! the thing that has grown is my confidence in it. 

cultureisland: tell us more about hey lady. how did it come about? what's the process for creating the zine?

regina schilling: hey lady is a feminist collaborative art quarterly. my role is to wrangle artists to make a portrait of a woman of my choosing. i do a lot of research on both who to feature and who to ask to contribute to create a showcase of art with a focus on woc and lgbtq women. it has grown three times it size in it's 5 issues and i am always looking for ways for it to improve and grow. with art, it's easy to get caught up in your personal narrative, but with hey lady it's all these different perspectives and depictions and i love the collectiveness of it. my favorite part is finding new artists or having them reach out to me and be excited to contribute. i want it to be a place where people can be a part of something good. to celebrate women who have done such an incredible job at being humans. 

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists? any in your city we should check out?

regina schilling: there are so many current artists i love, so many people are doing great things! holly pappalardo is incredible. she's in california, and makes real dreamy collages and ink paintings. another art star is james roo, he makes comics and everything else cool and his work is really unique and colorful. my favorite artist of all time is yoko ono! 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

regina schilling: i've been listening to molly nilson's album "these things take time" on repeat for the past few days. 

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

regina schilling: i've been watching the new season of bojack horseman the past few nights and i love it so much. it's so sad and sweet and funny and lisa hanawalt is truly killing it with her drawings for the series. i also re-watched the yayoi kusama documentary "i love me" and it's a must see. she recites poetry, dances, completes giant drawings in time-lapsed videos. she is actually going to be the next hey lady!

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your city or neighborhood?

regina schilling: i live in olympia, washington. it's the birthplace of riot grrl! my favorite place to eat is the arepa food truck. it has the best food and it's near the house where kurt cobain lived.  my favorite place to shop is psychic sister. they have everything from clogs, to all sizes of vintage dresses and even every issue of hey lady. it's so well curated and beautiful. the best place for coffee is bar francis and on tuesday mornings august farm sells fresh flowers in their cafe. olympia is really nice!

* you can see more of regina's work here + follow her instagram here *

cultureisland event recap // glued to the screen // gregory moncada art pop-up

the opening for glued to the screen was pretty perfect -- great weather, great (eclectic) crowd, great times. the art is still for sale and up 'til july 6 at muchmore's @ 2 havemeyer street in williamsburg. greg's work truly fits in with the colorful, graphic space -- and i couldn't have imaged doing this pop-up with anyone else. 

gregory moncada // bike rose // 11" x 14" // framed digital collage

gregory moncada // bike rose // 11" x 14" // framed digital collage

gregory moncada // hands and color // 11" x 14" // framed digital collage

gregory moncada // hands and color // 11" x 14" // framed digital collage

thanks to my girl alix h. luntz for the event photos! and thank you to amelia for the tunes <3

cultureisland event recap // sweet as... // walk the west vintage + heather garland art pop-up

a few friday's ago, i hosted a pop-up (sweet as...) in collaboration with walk the west vintage and artist heather garland. it was a true greenpoint gathering and the perfect summer evening with delicious ice cream by weezy's and tasty cocktails thanks to duke's liquor box next door. heather's artful plates truly complement the killer vintage clothing perfectly. the pop-up is still happening through the end of june, so be sure to check it out @ 170 franklin street -- p.s. all of the artwork above is by heather and it's still for sale, so contact me if you're interested (1cultureisland@gmail.com)!

small talk // morgan solomon // designer + founder of AGMES jewelry line

i first met my friend morgan back in college, some five years ago. in recent times, we have reconnected and now i consider morgan a member of my cheer squad -- she too is seeking deep creative fulfillment and has been there for me in times when i've lost my way. morgan recently launched her own jewelry line, agmes and it's already a hit! it's really fresh + different plus you can truly see her unique point of view shining through each piece. agmes is totally unlike any other jewelry line i've seen. it's pretty inspiring to see a friend stand on her own two feet and build something from the ground up. i'm excited to continue watching morgan and agmes grow moving foward.

more on morgan and agmes below:

agmes // thin block rings

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

morgan solomon: i've always loved fashion, but more specifically jewelry. i don't have model-sized proportions, so even when i was young, i found clothing to be more difficult to shop for and thus my preferential treatment for jewelry began. no matter what your size, you can always find jewelry to fit! i remember as far back as my camp days, when i was only 9, i used to love making jewelry. that love for jewelry continued on but took a backseat role in my life for some time -- i didn't picture myself having a career as a jewelry designer until recently. i  graduated from the university of michigan where i studied business, and went on to work in buying after school. my first year in buying i worked on a women's clothing private label, where i got to help design the clothing. i loved that job because i found inspiration from all parts of my life and got to bring those ideas and excitement to work each day. after i got promoted, i worked with some established brands and found myself missing the creative component that i had in my previous role. i started craving a creative outlet and i found a studio in nyc where i could take weekend classes to make my jewelry designs come to life. after many different jewelry classes throughout my life, from camp, college, after graduation, to this one, it finally stuck. people say timing is everything, and i truly believe that in all aspects of my life - the time was right, and i knew i had to take the leap.

cultureisland. tell us more about AGMES.

morgan solomon: AGMES is a collaboration between my sister and i. my sister, jaclyn, graduated from parsons for fashion design and worked for 4 years at proenza schouler designing their knitwear. she is now consulting part-time for khaite, a new clothing line under the line, and is also our artistic director. we both have such different backgrounds and experiences that we bring to the table! our jewelry is made from all precious metals - sterling silver and gold vermeil- and everything is made locally. the aesthetic is modern, focusing on clean lines and geometric shapes. this collection was inspired mostly by 1960s and 70s design and architecture, such as cini boeri and tadao ando.

agmes // lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what is your process for making a jewelry collection?

morgan solomon: i start out working with my sister to pull inspiration for the upcoming season. after the inspiration has been collected, it's back to the drawing board. i start by sketching the pieces out on paper, and then i create them in cad to start to see the pieces come to life. i print many different versions of each piece using a 3d printer in order to determine the best dimensions for both style and comfort. once the design has been perfected, i send it to our artisan jewelers to manipulate and refine the pieces by hand. 

agmes // drop earrings

cultureisland: how has your work and process evolved since you started? how do you see it growing in the future?

morgan solomon: my process has evolved a lot since i first started! when i use to sketch in college, i would randomly create pieces that i wished to own. i didn't design to create a collection because i didn't yet know how to realize my designs. i designed simply because i wished i could have certain pieces that just didn't yet exist in the market. after partnering with my sister, i've learned so much about the process of collecting inspiration to base the upcoming collection on. i've taken many classes on jewelry forming, sketching and cad, and i still have so much to learn! i hope to one day have my own studio where i can sculpt and form the master models with my own hands.

agmes // lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your line? where do you find inspiration for these pieces?

morgan solomon: i’m constantly inspired to design pieces that i'd love to wear. since i've been a consumer for longer than i've been a jewelry designer, i know what it is that i look for when shopping for jewelry - comfort, style, and quality. i try to design each piece to be light and comfortable, and something i'd want to pass on one day. i find inspiration everywhere i go! i love looking at the architecture around me, here in nyc and when i travel, but i especially love looking through old design books and checking out all the new galleries that are constantly popping up around me.

agmes // lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces? 

morgan solomon: we name most of our pieces after architects or designers that inspire the pieces, such as the boeri and wide boeri ring after cini boeri, the ando ring after tadao ando, and the bertrand ring after bertrand goldberg. 

agmes // cliff cuff

agmes // cliff cuff

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists and designers?

morgan solomon: i have so many, but to name a few, yves klein, otto piene, and agnes martin.

agmes // block ring + boeri ring

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

it depends on my mood, but i've been listening to a lot of blood orange, lucius, and the arcs.

agmes // lookbook

agmes // lookbook

morgan solomon: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

i haven't had a chance to watch many movies lately, but i recently saw joy and was incredibly moved! joy's passion and unyielding drive for success was so incredible to watch - no matter what challenges she faced, she continued to pick herself back up and keep going. i try to keep her story in mind when i hit my own bumps in the road.

agmes // lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

morgan solomon: i try not to drink much coffee, but if i am going to have coffee, it's always at la colombe - mostly because i love their olive oil cake. it's my favorite part about getting coffee! :) i'm surrounded by so many good restaurants, so if i go out to eat i try to check out new restaurants as much as i can. but of course i still have my go-to spots for lunch - cafe gitane, la esquina, and the smile. i'm more of an online shopper, but when i need a break from work i'll stop into all the great stores around me, such as maryam nassir zadeh, creatures of comfort, and totokaelo. they're all such beautiful and well-curated shops that it can be inspiring even if you're not shopping!

* you can purchase agmes jewelry here or at maryam nassir zadeh in nyc plus tenoversix and mameg in LA. + follow the brand's instagram here *

art exhibit // nic rad // perennial millennial at victori + mo gallery

a few weeks back, i saw artist nic rad's latest exhibit, perennial millennial at victori + mo gallery in bushwick, brooklyn. victori + mo is quickly becoming one of my favorite galleries. every exhibit i've seen there has wowed me and i continue to love the work they show. what i liked most about nic rad's show was his clever approach to assemblage, paintings and pop-culture centric text-based artwork.

the gallery's space isn't very big and yet its gallerists, celine + ed, always make great use of it -- this time that meant showing the work in a salon style and coloring the walls with blue and yellow paint. did i mention there was even a large smiling emoji hanging from the ceiling? moreover, nic hosted a beer pong competition in the space, which i unfortunately couldn't make but it sounded quite literally rad. images and more info from the exhibit below:

perennial millennial is a a group of gestural assemblages incorporating pop culture and textual tropes rooting this series in the language and preoccupations of social media and internet culture, a through line to the unique state of the so­-called millennial generation—sometimes derisively so—who occupy a dichotomous space of anxiety and full­-throated confidence.

as seen by the invented millennial “jackson johns,” the theoretical progeny of robert rauschenberg and jasper johns within the alternative reality where such a thing might be possible, the works constitute an imaginative revival of dada image making.

as rad says, “this kind of lightly­worn hat of a persona seems very natural for anyone who had 10 screen names growing up.” expanding on rad’s fluid exploration of the rifts and frissons between the physical, textual, and digital worlds, perennial millennial conjures an expressive lexicon layered with references to corporate information design, emoji, social media, and other modern detritus from a constantly evolving and imploding contemporary visual vocabulary. shifts in scale, brusquely applied strokes and varying degrees of layering and impasto lend an immediate physicality to the works. as a dialectic about who paintings are for, and the real and invented narratives generated therein, a second, self­ reflexive commentary emerges, one which engages generational attitudes toward painting as a medium, and the self­ assurance/self­ doubt feedback loop that seems to characterize contemporary art. as a deconstruction of the built associations of recognizable imagery, they distill the aggressive momentum and anxiety of the information age.

* see more of nic's work here *

cultureisland + yogamargo event recap // collage for a cause // may 2016

a little over a month ago, a small group of us gathered at georgia vintage on the lower east side and made art for a cause (projectart). that night, happiness was simply a pair of scissors, a stick of glue and some good friends and strangers collaging on the floor. while the collage for a cause event was the smallest cultureisland turn out yet, it was still so special. size simply didn't matter. if anything, it was more intimate than my past events and it allowed for a stronger bond between those who came out that night. the evening started off with a meditation session led by margo, who shared these insightful thoughts:

"we are used to thinking of making decisions as the hard part. but the truth is that often the more difficult thing is realizing that there is a decision to be made, that we have a choice." - tal ben shahar.

power lies in realizing we have a choice. 

margo continued: #projectgoodness is an example, where one chooses to focus on what's going well -- on the goodness in and around them. another is project art, its founder adarsh noticed a lack or what was missing in education, and choose to do something about it -- to start project art and give many more kids access to arts education. 

collaging is all about choice...

tal ben shahar also says, "choice is creation. to choose is to create. through my choices i create my reality. at every moment in my life i have a choice. moments add up to a lifetime, choices add up to a life. what kind of life do i want for myself? what kind of choices will create this kind of life?" 

after that, everyone had the opportunity to cut, paste and truly connect with themselves and one another. together we created a safe space for relaxing and creating without inhibitions or worries from our busy, everyday lives. as margo shared, "the room was filled with ease." one guest was a teacher in town from west africa where she teaches young girls. she had found our class somewhere on the internet and wanted to try it out so she could do a similar activity with her students. it was super special to hear this, that she had plans to take inspiration from our workshop back to her students living in such a different place, half way across the world. collaborating with margo continues to feels easy, natural, flawless and magical -- a rare, seldom and special feeling when collaborating with others. we hope to do another workshop together in the coming months, so stay tuned! thank you to georgia for hosting us again, we are eternally grateful.

culture island event // glued to the screen // gregory moncada art pop-up

my friend diana has been curating shows at muchmore's for a few years now so i was pretty pumped when she approached me to guest curate their june one. i've been wanting to curate a pop-up with my pal gregory moncada for a while now -- we first met in miami at art basel last december and have a ton of mutual friends. greg is like my spirit animal as there's a lot of synergy in how we approach our work. i've been eyeing his scan collages for a while now, and he was the first person i thought of when this opportunity came up. super excited to collaborate with him, and my friend amelia who will be curating the playlist.

more about our collaborative partners:

cultureisland: cultureisland is a passion project by sara r. radin in which sara curates events and collaborates with emerging creatives, brands and non-profits. this will be her 18th event since february 2015 and she has many more in the works.

+ gregory moncada: born, raised, living and working in new york, gregory moncada is a visual artist and art industry professional. classically trained in fine arts in florence, italy and a work ethic learned from the streets of new york city, moncada has had constant involvement in creating and exhibiting art, as well as a hand in behind the scenes art world operations. as a communicator, collector and curious explorer who works with passion, moncada consistently searches and experiments with inspiration. details and observations are filed away as source material. papers and visual elements are mentally and physically gathered, then intentionally placed to create expressive works of art. from managing the operations at jonathan levine gallery to the private sales department at christie's auction house, gregory has constant hands on experience with culturally significant works of art. this exposure allows the artist to have a literal finger on the pulse of art history and current worldly exhibitions. the knowledge is transferred into the studio practice and later translated into various visual art expressions.  

moncada's artwork takes on several forms. mixed media collage paintings and digital photo interventions, as well as travel sketchbooks and lifestyle photography are among the few. a colorful palette and abstract visual language brand the work with room for continual evolution. marks are made with intention, yet remaining experimental. the subject matter is accessible. the work is made to be understood by the common pedestrian as well as discussed in a formal art critique.

glued to the screen will feature his recent series, scan collages, which use hand selected vintage paper ephemera with colorful digital interventions.

+ amelia holt: amelia is a mexican born, brooklyn based DJ. she currently has a biweekly internet radio show called the fix on kpiss.fm (bushwick radio station) where she plays house and techno music with her co-host eli fola.

facebook event

cultureisland event // sweet as... // art + vintage pop-up

i have two events coming up in june -- the first is a pop-up with walk the west vintage and artist heather garland! i first came across walk the west at my greenpoint coffee shop, budin, where the company hosts monthly pop-ups. when i found out the owner was doing a month long pop-up in our neighborhood, i asked if i could bring some art into the space and immediately thought of heather's work. i only discovered heather's work a few months ago at her recent exhibit with honey ramka. heather's studio is also in greenpoint so we finally met during open studios. she's totally magical and i'm obsessed with her work -- it's so clever and playful and i love how she incorporates thrifted items and objects bought from 99cent stores. the inspiration for the event name came from a quote heather said about her work: “i am interested in things sounding or looking so sweet it almost hurts. i am interested in different conceptions of love and domesticity. in the sweetness of domestic life there can also be darkness and mystery.” i liked the idea of playing on the word sweet, since we are also partnering with weezy's ice cream.

more about our collaborative partners:

cultureisland: cultureisland is a passion project by sara r. radin in which sara curates events and collaborates with emerging creatives, brands and non-profits. this will be her 17th event since february 2015 and she has many more in the works.

+ walk the west: brooklyn and london based, walk the west stocks mostly all made in the usa vintage and american made goods like cuchara, a toronto based jewelry company, brooklyn made skincare by ellis and brooklyn poured soy candles.

+ heather garland: heather garland is a brooklyn based visual artist who received her mfa from pratt institute in 2010. her work brings together her obsession with hearts, flowers and rainbows along with her love for thrift store kitsch. she will be showcasing her series, "love is like a butterfly" in which narratives develop from applying oil paint and other adornments to collectable and functional plates. 

+ weezy's ice cream: weezy's cultured cow creamery was started by louise carter who, after a three-pint ice cream binge and one too many netflix food documentaries, pondered a world where the words “regret” and “guilt” didn’t exist. weezy’s is now a small batch premium ice cream company whose philosophy is ice cream that feels like you’re treating, not cheating. the brand uses only local ingredients and homemade mix-ins.

+ duke's liquor box: duke's sells all natural craft spirits with a strong focus in the best spirits they can get our hands on. they will be hosting a novo fogo tasting on this night.

* there will be free ice cream and special cocktails thanks to weezy's ice cream, duke's liquor box + novo fogo *

facebook event

art exhibit // tangerine dream collective // galerie pangée, montreal

to my delight, my delicatessen collaborator, sarah osborne, was also showing work in another exhibit during our pop-up/my montreal stay called tangerine dream collective. it took place at montreal's galerie pangée and featured work by sarah plus two of her friends, joani tremblay and elise windsor. the exhibit was playful, colorful, bright and fun. although the three girls have diverse styles, their artworks complemented each other well and i most definitely wanted to buy all of it. see pictures and more info below:

the tangerine dream collective is composed of artists sarah osborne, joani tremblay and elise windsor. with a young and contemporary vision,  the collective plays with simple and bold forms as well as large-scale installations composed of several works on paper seen and presented as objects. what influences this collective the most are flora, architecture and the world of art, as well as their status as women. for the occasion of this exhibit, the gallery was transformed into  a living sculpture in the form of an installation using pop colors and mixing paintings, drawings, photographs, objects, plants, shelves and other sculptural devices. works on paper became objects displayed as in a showcase window such as to question the relationship between staging and curation.

more images of the work can be found on artsy here.

small talk // gregory c. brunet // visual artist

i first came across the work of montreal artist gregory c. brunet over instagram. as it turns out, greg is a mutual friend of sarah osborne (who i did the delicatessen pop-up with). i immediately fell in love with greg’s work and knew i had to find the time to meet him while i was in town. while greg initially set out to make movies, he ended up liking painting, drawing and printmaking much more. his work takes inspiration from 1980s/90s video games and cartoons including popular icons like bart simpson and nintendo, which he animates and deconstructs through abstract shapes and dulled neon colors. greg is especially inspired by the idea of having multiple windows open on a computer at once: through his process, he cuts out pieces and uses the computer to draw new forms, then assembles them into paintings that act like sculpture. in a way, he’s making work that is both 2-d and 3-d so it really plays with the eye. his work reminds me of frank stella’s, yet it feels more virtual reality centric. some of the forms he uses are not representational and are totally unrecognizable, allowing viewers to see his work differently through their own experiences. greg says he’d still like to make music videos one day. it would be really neat to see him create both the installations/sets for a music video as well as animate the video himself.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

gregory c. brunet: i grew up in the montréal area, which is where i still live and work. my first experience with art came from my mother who was a painter. i drew and played all the time with paint when i was little and i also kinda destroyed some of my moms work when i tried to play with them. then in elementary school i wanted to become a cartoonist and make nice sci-fi comics, but never did. eventually i started college in communication/film study and i was really into making movies. but movies were too complicated to make and would involve way too many people. so i went to university where i did a ba in visual and media arts. at first i was going there to explore and make video arts, but for some reason i ended up doing more painting and silkscreening. at that time i was in a band and it was really convenient to print stuff like posters, t-shirts, record covers and stuff like that. after my ba i wasn't sure if my work was really interesting or worth it, so i just worked hard in the studio for a couple years trying to figure what i wanted to do and say, and now here i am. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings.

gregory c. brunet: my technique is based on software like adobe illustrator and paint, where you can cut, copy and paste. the hand becomes the machine and the mind blends with the canvas. as a result, the mixing of altered referents creates complex visual combinations where bearings and avenues meet and blur to create new interpretations and understandings. i try to keep a tradition linked to painting, that's why i use mainly oil. i like to have a discourse on the aesthetics of cheesy mass communication. for example, when bart simpson's face is reduced to it's simplest form, it consists of a lineless shape filled with color and texture. 

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

gregory c. brunet: i usually start from a doodle on paper and then i start building something around that. sometime i trace the doodles in illustrator and then use a cnc to make a shaped canvas. it's really intuitive and it depends on the project i'm working on. i recently bought an airbrush so it will obviously change the way i work in some form. i also paint on canvas and on wood, it's really a question of what i have on hand. because i work with oil paint i'm usually working on a lot of different paintings at the same time.  

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

gregory c. brunet: i'm part of the generation "y", the one that grew up with h the simpsons, nintendo and the beginning of the internet. this time period is particularly interesting to me, since it was the first where the youth grew up with a profusion of screens and digital images. our current era is still feeling this legacy: ninja turtles, saturated color, 8-bit video games, windows 95 screen savers and wolfenstein 3d are now icons of a certain time, just like mythology belongs to the ancient time. i'm also interested in the loss of language with regard to the technologies by which we are surrounded. 

cultureisland: how do you name your works?

gregory c. brunet: my works are usually named after songs or an episode of the simpsons. sometimes i just hear a phrase in a song and i feel like it's a good fit for what i'm doing. right now i'm working on a show called beach party, bbq everyday, the title comes from a little passage on a song on dr. dre's 2001 album. and the beach party part was just something i think was a good fit. i think he could have said something like that. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work? where do you find inspiration?

gregory c. brunet: i think there's a certain form of nostalgia in my work. like when i was kid everything was better even if it's not true. i'm really not sure what inspires me in fact. i guess the beach inspires me a lot, probably because i live in the snow up north. 

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

gregory c. brunet: when i started university i was always drawing stuff but didn't really know where i was going with that. it was mainly drawings of strange characters with magical animals. i was building a weird kind of mythology. with the time i started to remove the lines and the figures were slowly disappearing and everything started to be more flat, more abstract, more graphic. at that time i was working with acrylics paint and the medium wasn't right for what i wanted to do. so i started to work with oil, destroying the characters and making them more abstract. there's still shape that suggests the human figure or shapes like the mouth of a ninja turtle even though it's not really out there. i know it's there but the viewer might not see it. then last year i started to make shaped canvases and paintings almost like sculpture, so now i'm becoming more interested in space and how it interacts with the viewer. 

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

gregory c. brunet: right now i'm really into the work of elizabeth murray and math bass. i also like geometric abstract hard-edge artists like guido molinari and ellsworth kelly.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

gregory c. brunet: i always listen to the same records over and over again, but i discovered a band called nap eyes from halifax, canada and i'm pretty much only listening to that right now. also i enjoy the new ep from solids, a band from montreal, it's really good. 

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

gregory c. brunet: i kind of feel ashamed because i'm watching the 100 on netflix. i'm really not sure if i like the show or not but i'm totally addicted. it's really not inspiring that's for sure! haha! 

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

gregory c. brunet: i kinda live and work in a rough neighborhood but there is a really good ban-mi place not too far i don't remember what it's called. also there's a coffee shop called atomic cafe that make really good coffee. when i'm working at the studio i stop there almost every day. it's a really cool and relax spot and the staff is really nice. there is not really anything to buy around my studio, it's mostly pawn shops and vape shops. there's like 10 vape shops it's crazy!   

* check out more of greg's work here + his instagram *

art // women words, phrases, and stories: 1,000 paintings by betty tompkins // flag art foundation

one of my latest, favorite exhibits just closed: women words, phrases and stories: 1,000 paintings by betty tompkins at the flag foundation. there the walls were full of various sized paintings covered in words that describe women. i felt a lot of synergy with the artist and her process as she is at heart a collaborator. i even had the chance to attend a special event in the exhibition space, where betty allowed women from all backgrounds to get up in front of the group and read out the words on the walls. it was empowering and magical. 

more about this exhibit below (from the flag website):

in 2002 and 2013, tompkins circulated the following email: “i am considering doing another series of pieces using images of women comprised of words.  i would appreciate your help in developing the vocabulary.  please send me a list of words that describe women.  they can be affectionate (honey), pejorative (bitch), slang, descriptive, etc. the words don’t have to be in english but i need as accurate a translation as possible. many, many thanks, betty tompkins.” the response was overwhelming, with over 3,500 words and phrases in seven languages submitted, equally split between men and women. in 2012, tompkins was invited to create a performance in vienna where 500 of the words and phrases were read aloud. inspired by that performance, the artist then set out to create 1,000 individual word paintings, intending the series to be presented en masse once complete. on january 1, 2013, tompkins created the first painting slut (#1).

throughout women words, tompkins layers stenciled, freehand drawn, and pressed-on text over imagery, which includes lace overlays, gauzy close-ups of the female body, and a sampling of styles from what the artist refers to as the “old-boy painting” network – de kooning, fontana, guston, morris louis, newman, pollock, and richter.  derogatory, reductive, and dismissive language such as venus, piece of ass, and the only thing that would make her more beautiful is my dick in her mouth, seem to reveal that women are often still viewed through the lens of desire or reproach. is such language the result of love, fear, control, or anger? tompkins does not offer answers, presenting women words in the same straightforward and non-judgmental approach as her renowned fuck paintings.

tompkins’s oeuvre has never demurred from provocative subject matter; the artist’s ongoing fuck paintings (1969-1974; reprised in 2003) center on tightly cropped photorealistic images of sexual intercourse. according to the artist, “my first husband had this great collection of porn and i was looking at it one day and thought: if you take out the heads and legs—all this boring stuff—and get down to the money shot, this is beautiful…really formally beautiful.” highly sexualized imagery and language have since become ubiquitous in mainstream culture and have shifted the context and reaction surrounding the fuck paintings, once dismissed as too explicit and because of tompkins’s position as a female artist with a sex-positive attitude. it wasn’t until the paintings’ presentation at the lyon biennale in 2003, that the work received an extraordinary reception and established tompkins at the forefront of first generation feminist art.

* photos are by genevieve hanson, nyc -- all images are copyrighted by betty tompkins

cultureisland event recap // delicatessen // montreal art pop-up with sarah osborne

there was something magical about my collaboration with montreal painter sarah osborne -- while we planned the delicatessen event completely through the interwebs, it was totally flawless and one of my favorite pop-ups yet.

both sarah and the deli owner, jeff, were an absolute pleasure to work with and i had the best time pulling this event together. we actually got some press, which was super exciting (see here and here). after spending a week in montreal, i learned that all montrealers are super kind and approachable. sarah, jeff, their friends and all the new people i met on that trip were incredibly warm and welcoming -- i can't wait to go back and do another project there!

p.s. all of the works are still for sale, so contact me if you're interested 1cultureisland@gmail.com

small talk // nicole reber // visual artist + writer + co-editor of packet biweekly

in the short time that i've known artist/writer nicole reber, nicole continues to kill it. we met some months ago over social media when another artist was like, "you two should be friends!" after a few months of stalking nicole and digging her artwork, i asked to interview her for cultureisland. we met up on a sunday: she talked artmaking while we both shared personal learnings, anecdotes and french fries. not only is nicole making really rad art (you can catch her work at two shows -- one in nyc at transmitter gallery while another opens in portland friday) but she is also the co-editor of packet biweekly, an art publication that comes out twice a month. packet is a new cultural partner of nada, an emerging art fair happening this weekend. nicole will be moderating a talk there on friday at 4 pm about the role of performance art in gallery programming so be sure to check it out!

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

nicole reber: i was born in 1989, the daughter of a polish woman who came to the states as a political refugee in her late 20’s, and my dad, a california surfer. i’m pretty much a middle sliver on the venn diagram of these two experiences. i played piano competitively when i was a kid, and my dad played a lot of classic rock in the car. i was obsessed with dave grohl and foo fighters starting in the 4th grade, right after i got over natalie imbruglia. there was a great fan site called fooarchive.com and i would spend hours there reading interviews, learning about nirvana, dc hardcore, a lot of stuff that a 9 year old girl in catholic school wouldn’t normally have been exposed to. i got into emo pretty early because the bassist for the foo fighters was in sunny day real estate. learning about my heroes’ heroes, it was just this clear thing that everyone lived on new york. i was always into writing, but it was always a more structured facility to me– most of my young writing was journalism. but when i would listen to bands, my first focus was the lyrics, probably because that was missing from my the classical spectrum i was more fluent in. i remember around the same time making a comment to my piano teacher that i thought mendelssohn’s “songs without words” was a really depressing title, because i was coming to the point where words were becoming more important to me than sound. sound can reverberate the message of a word, but i need them to live together. so i came to pratt and started studying creative writing which is what i got my bfa in. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your sign paintings. how did you start making them?

nicole reber: the sign paintings developed out of several needs. i was writing poetry and also experimenting with other visual art, collage and darkroom photo. i was having a hard time combining language in a way that didn’t feel like a caption or accompaniment to the visual work. i originally bought one of the signs for utility, and used it as a sign for the magazine i help edit, packet, at the ny art book fair. after the fair, it was hanging out in my house, and i started playing around with it. it’s funny, having a sign like that in the room, you inherently feel like you shouldn’t be communicating or using it for anything but business at first. a few days later, i posted one of the first sign pieces online and got a lot of positive feedback, and so i just started going for it. 

tide // 18" x 24" // vinyl, plastic, aluminum // 2016 (in a show that closes sunday in nyc)

tide // 18" x 24" // vinyl, plastic, aluminum // 2016 (in a show that closes sunday in nyc)

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

nicole reber: the writing on the pieces always comes out of longer poems that i write. i’ll have them printed out and read them outloud to myself before making the work. whatever line really reverberates for me, that’s what i’ll use for a piece. some of the larger pieces that feature multiple pieces of texts have lines from different poems, and i like using that because it can make the piece a little more indirect. using different text sizes, you can read those lines as one voice, the smaller fonts as another. so much of poetry is play, using the space of the page, and the framing of the signs inherently offers a similar restriction that of the page. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

nicole reber: the pieces come out of my personal poetry, but i try not to just focus on my experiences and stories in that work. i’ll try different sorts of writing exercises, the famous ones from bernadette mayer, and ones i’ve personally created for myself to help in my writing. to keep the perspective in the language from being too narrow, i’ll write down a situation and then use this chart from this psychologist robert plutchik, to identify 4 emotions that that situation makes me feel. using the emotion charts helps me to digest and expand on themes that i might have written about in a more direct way. youtube, movies, etc, are also helpful for triggering older memories and experiences to write from. 

cultureisland: how do you name your artworks?

nicole reber: depending on the piece, the title is either be taken excerpted from a line directly in the piece, or something totally different meant to illuminate the text itself. i made a piece recently that was my first time showing a piece that was entirely not my own text, it was taken from a donald trump speech, so that one obviously needed some context, in case the viewer was familiar with the text beforehand. that one was titled  “most presidential nominees speak at a 4th grade level.” other pieces, like “friend” from the sping/break show, need that more direct title from the piece itself to structure a text that might be more experimental or poetic than some of the other pieces.

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work? where do you find inspiration for these pieces?

nicole reber: time alone, skateboarding, father john misty, a constant need to make my life more difficult than it needs to be, youth. i’m at that age that i’m old enough to want to be young again for the first time in my life, where you start to see your mistakes for the first time, and try to take it back. life is gaining on me, things are messier for myself and the world around me, and i write to try to make sense of it all, to have a fleeting sense of control and happiness.

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

nicole reber: i write less about myself.

cultureisland: tell us more about packet biweekly. how did the publication come about?

nicole reber: packet was started in 2012 by my friend chris nosenzo, who i’ve collaborated on artist’s books with since college. chris, myself, and the artist  anthony cudahy ran a current events tumblr called currently now where we would post current art, events, satire, on there. we had all just graduated college too, and were doing these salons at friend’s houses as way to encourage each other to keep producing work. chris had the idea for packet and brought anthony and i on, and we started it around hurricane sandy that year. the group has grown and shifted throughout the years and now it’s chris, his girlfriend christine zhu, and myself as core members. we have people that live in different parts of the us that are passionate about what we do and reach out to artists on behalf of packet, so that helps us grow our scope. we focus on printing recent work from emerging visual artists and writers, focusing on aspects of their practice that haven’t been published or are more experimental in nature. we put on events, readings, we’ve had a radio show, and we’ll be doing a talk at nada this year, so it’s something that keeps us all really busy, but it’s amazing to watch the community that’s formed out of it.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

nicole reber: theo mercier, mark gonzales, pipilotti rist, anne waldman and ed ruscha.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

nicole reber: john phillips,"wolf king of l.a." + peter ivers, "nirvana peter" and jim sullivan, "ufo"
clarence williams "reissues."

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

nicole reber: i probably watched the 1969 simon and garfunkel “songs of america” every month in the last year.. it’s a lot of in-studio recording during the “bridge over troubled water” time, and really hones in on their songwriting. also this my morning jacket documentary, about their first tour in holland is awesome. as an artist, things have changed so much with regards to how to get your work out there, etc, that it’s kind of hard to look for role models, so watching movies about the creative process helps me cope.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

nicole reber: i try to keep on a good budget and eat at home when i can. i’m allergic to a lot of coffee (it make me very drowsy) but i have found that grady’s cold brew gives a great buzz, and if your brew it for yourself  in their bean bags it can be pretty affordable. i’ve lived in flatbush for a few years, and outside of getting art supplies, i don’t have to go into the city for any general life upkeep, flatbush has an awesome community of local merchants. i get my clothes tailed by bah french tailoring on caton, go to the caton market for custom screenprinting on the spot, get film developed at experts 1 hr, and get exercise rollerskating at the rink across the street from my house. i do occasionally splurge for a cocktail at erv’s which is probably the smallest bar in brooklyn, and not too far from my house.

* check out more of nicole's work here + her instagram // and packet biweekly here and here *

small talk // paloma canut of sunad // a minimal shirt line made in spain

i first met my friend paloma while we were both working for converse in nyc. paloma was my department's intern/freelancer and we became instant friends, sharing a love for pineapple imagery and men with beards among many other random things. palo has always had incredible taste and a unique eye. she's now splitting her time between living in london and working on her new spanish made shirt company, sunad with her friend ana marroquin in madrid. it's been really wonderful watching a good friend grow a business from the ground up (even from thousands of miles away). i was super excited to interview her for cultureisland and learn more about all things sunad. her and ana are offering a special cultureisland discount so shop now 'til may 12th and use the code CI.15

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

paloma canut: since ana and i were young, we have been inspired by the female figures in our lives – from their creativity and style to their passion and hard work. each of our family role models had an important role to play in shaping the women we are today. growing up in madrid we were exposed to a dynamic art scene and culture that could be found at every corner. this basis enabled us to share a love of passion for the arts, design and fashion. we see these worlds being intrinsically linked. following this, we both decided to attend parsons paris and a strong friendship ensued. we both shared a love of studying and it was through our design and management course that we eventually moved to parsons in new york. both cities are a melting pot of creative talent and we were lucky to be able to shape our careers towards the direction we each desired. even though we both started with the idea of pursuing a career in fashion, ana moved more towards interior design whilst i focused on graphics, photography and trends. it was only when we both decided to move back to madrid that we started to develop the concept behind our minimal, fashion contemporary brand ‘sunad’.

cultureisland: tell us more about sunad.

paloma canut: sunad was born from a love of vintage desert shirts as inspired by the film out of africa; that effortlessly chic, summer look that seemed to transcend decades. we felt there was no longer a brand or a product that represented that adventurous yet stylish woman of the 70’s. somewhere down the line we had lost that yves saint laurent woman, the same type of woman that we grew up around and admired so much. it was this philosophy, coupled with our love of nature that kick-started the whole concept and story behind sunad. the name sunad is an anagram for the spanish word for dunes: dunas.

the way we picture sunad, is based on an understanding that a common denominator exists in everything that inspires us: a play on masculinity and femininity through form and colour. we want this identity to be present in everything we do. rather than designing trend pieces, we focus on timeless classics produced in the highest quality. like life, our shirts adapt to you and age with you. 

ana and i come from similar backgrounds and we share the same values and aesthetics, which we feel is a key foundation to our business. we are very transparent and committed to making products that not only look good but also are well-made and ethically sourced. craftsmanship is the foundation of our manufacturing process. a great deal of the textile history and skills are lost in spain so we feel it is our duty to try and help the remaining artisans and showcase the incredible talent that is still in our country. our shirts are all handmade in spain, including our buttons that are made in a small factory in palma de mallorca.

cultureisland: who is the sunad customer?

paloma canut: we design for the stylish, adventurous and powerful woman. someone who is curious about the world, its cultures and colours. a well-travelled curator, who is ambitious and values quality over quantity. there is no age limit to our designs.

cultureisland: how has sunad grown since you started? what plans do you have to continue growing it?

paloma canut: sunad operates in an organic way, perhaps closer to a premium menswear brand ethos. we remain true to our signature classics and staples and then build on them each season with unique fabrics, new details, print collaborations and bespoke capsule collections. we will however respond to key runway trends by picking up on a color wave or pattern that resonates with sunad and presenting that in our own voice throughout the collection. collaborations are and will be key in the future for sunad. it’s very inspiring to work with other talented designers and share ideas on design, processes and fabrics. the bouncing of ideas and feeding of creativity, injects a different energy into capsule collections. we are committed to being classic but also unique.

cultureisland: how do you name your shirts?

paloma canut: our concept of the desert shines through every element in our shirts. each of our shirts relates to a desert or natural landmark in the world - i.e. sahara, atacama, gobi, kalahari...

cultureisland: what inspires you to create? where do you find inspiration for the line and these pieces? 

paloma canut: our inspiration comes from everywhere; old photographs, cultural references, magazine editorials, a sea of colours during your travel, interior design, architecture, anything and everything! all you need to do is keep your eyes open and tune your mind to pick up on it.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists and designers?

paloma canut:  we live in a world where we are spoiled with choices and i feel like my favourite designers and artists can change on a daily basis. there are amazing contemporary, luxury brands like mansur gavriel or won hundred, but we of course also love the designs of classic maisons of the 60’s and 70’s. as far as art goes, i love ed ruscha’s photographs, clyfford still, guy yanai, landon metz, brutalist architecture and mid-century modern furniture ... but the list is endless!

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

paloma canut: right now i’m very into leisure, jamie woon and kelela.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

paloma canut: i am obsessed with documentaries, especially those about people i admire. i loved watching amy; it really made me rethink the role and effect of tabloids in our lives.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop and drink coffee in your neighborhood?

paloma canut: sometimes i wish teleportation was invented so i could constantly visit my favorite places around the world. for now and with a more traditional mode of transport, i recommend in london (dalston); tonkotsu, berber & q, la cabina, violet bakery or market cafe. and when in madrid; olivia te cuida, bar corazón, celso y manolo, casa salvador and tacos chapultepec are a must!

* shop + follow sunad here // instagram // facebook* (remember to use the discount code CI.15 until may 12th)

cultureisland + yoga margo event // collage for a cause // may 3 @ 7-9 pm

i'm teaming up with yoga margo and georgia nyc vintage again for a collage workshop that will benefit project art! tickets are $25 through eventbrite HERE with proceeds going to project art. margo will lead a short meditation session and then we will collage -- all supplies are included + there will be provided snacks plus free coffee and tea courtesy of pintail nyc. georiga is offering a discount on really rad vintage clothes this night, with a percentage of store sales going to projectart too. p.s. there are only 15 tickets available!

more about our collaborative partners:

cultureisland: cultureisland is a passion project by sara r. radin in which sara collaborates with emerging creatives, non-profits and brands to create unique experiences. she loves nothing more than bringing people together, introducing her friends and celebrating all kinds of creativity. this will be sara's 16th event since february 2015 and she has many more in the works.

yoga margo: margo chabot, or yoga margo, is a certified yoga instructor, health coach, artist, and founder of #projectgoodness -- a community dedicated to noticing and adding to the goodness that surrounds us always. she is passionate about giving people the tools to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives through teaching the importance of gratitude, mindfulness and self care.

projectart: projectart is an award winning nyc based arts education nonprofit, providing free after school visual arts classes in public libraries across the city. founder adarsh alphons not only believes art is a right but that it also saves lives.

georgia nyc: georgia nyc was founded by georgia fenwick in june 2014. a londoner who moved to nyc at age 13, she has had a transatlantic upbringing, being inspired by both europe and america. georgia nyc is a women's vintage clothing shop, focusing mostly on styles from the 60s and 70s. georgia has created a space that encourages experimentation with clothes that have individuality and are accessible.

+ pintail coffee: michael little, the owner of lost weekend (lower east side's former coffee + surf shop) has opened a new coffee counter inside georgia nyc. thank you to pintail for providing us with coffee and tea! 

+ allison stefanoni: allison is a current student at FIT studying fashion business but in her spare time she collages under the name magazine hacker. she created our invite as part of a "girls who collage" exchange with sara.

RSVP/buy tickets here

club soda mix #1 // strawberry carbonated jams // wamoo papez

i'm launching a new bi-monthly mixtape with my friend wamoo papez (juan alvarez) called CLUB SODA. juan will make the mixes and create a collage matching the vibe of the songs.

club soda mix #1 // strawberry carbonated jams // wamoo papez

club soda mix #1 // strawberry carbonated jams // wamoo papez

about this mix:

"for the past couple of months, i’ve really gotten into vaporwave, a genre of music that is focused more on sonics and aesthetics rather than content. a lot of vaporwave albums are centered around a theme, for example something like “music that can is played at a grocery store”, or “what happens to a computer when it dies". i just love how conceptually adventurous it all is.i'm also working on a new album/collage series titled beverages. each collage in the series is titled after a drink, cocktail, etc and the album will be inspired directly by the collages. the collages are all done, but the music is still being made. i hope to exhibit them both by the end of 2016. 

with this mix, i wanted to curate a group of songs that together would flow like a very good day, so i picked songs that were either filled with excitement, had a generally happy vibe, or could set the next song up to be either happy or exciting. for the collage, i picked very bright colors to match the upbeat feel of the mix. to me, pink has always been a color that represented happiness, so i made it the predominant color of the collage — the other colors were picked based on how well they can complement the shade of pink i ended up using.

after being exposed to it in late 2015, i very much wanted to make vaporwave music and art. as a visual art form, vaporwave often takes influence from technology and digital media. i've never really seen or heard of anything vaporwave being made from print or analog media. my dad is a super here in new york and often keeps items that former tenants leave behind. he inadvertently ended up hoarding dozens of old and new magazines. after taking a look at a few of them, i had an idea of using these magazines to make vaporwave-inspired collages. i thought it could be a really cool way to combine a purely digital art form with something that is tangible in the physical world. the music on the companion album coming out this year will be directly inspired by the collages.

as with most albums and artwork in the genre, i wanted to pick a theme that was both vague and salient in concept, so i picked beverages. out of all things to be consumed in the world, sugary drinks are my all time favorite thing in the world. i love to drink soda, juice, coffee and mixed drinks. i can never get enough apple juice! it made sense to pick that as my main theme -- seems like only fun can come out of it. i usually make these collages with the name of a drink in mind, while almost never including the drink in the actual collage. i wanted to show how the drinks make me see the world at the time. it's certainly strange to approach my art this way, but because it is a very loose theme, it gives me a ton of creative freedom, and who doesn't love that?"

-- juan alvarez