small talk // lisa pastor // founder and designer of two eggs

i first met my friend lisa through our mutual contact, collage artist michael desutter. lisa and mike share a studio space in east williamsburg but i knew mike for a long time before i met lisa. our courtship was quite cute: we stalked each other over instagram for a while, sharing an affinity for all things girl power and when we finally met in person, it was pure magic. lisa is the ultimate lady hustler and her fashion brand, two eggs, well-represents that. lisa runs two eggs totally on her own, teaches and has three other jobs. wowza. and she does it all with impeccable style (she's been known to have an outfit for every occasion), straight class and the sunniest personality. lisa has become my go-to-girl for sharing the highs and lows of doing passion projects and we've even started our own little gathering of other lady hustlers. two eggs also has a blog so the two of us decided to interview each other -- catch my two eggs interview here and use the special discount code CULTUREISLAND for 20% off two eggs products (offer valid til may 12th).

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

lisa pastor: i was born in dallas, texas. i loved growing up there and had the most “normal” childhood in the suburbs. it became clear from a super young age that i was really creative and my parents were really supportive in letting me explore whatever i wanted. i dressed myself from the start and always had opinions about how i wanted to present myself. i loved performing and started dancing when i was two years old. i decided i wanted to be a professional ballerina when i was in elementary school and spent all my time outside of school working towards that goal. performing, acting, playing a part - these are all things that came really naturally to me. the only other thing i was at all into when i was a kid was fashion. i have always seen getting dressed as an opportunity to express yourself. it’s almost like a costume you put on to play a part for the day or the hour. i love that aspect of clothes and style and if you know me, you know that i have a “look” for literally any possible situation i could find myself in. 

whenever i had free time, me, my mom, and my sister would always go shopping. we weren’t poor, but we certainly weren’t rich and i learned early that i definitely had expensive taste. my mom took us to all the discount stores, thrift stores, and consignment shops we could handle. it was so much fun grabbing a bunch of random stuff, trying it on, giggling nonstop in the fitting room, and always leaving with bags full of goodies! i think this is where i really developed my keen eye. i’d see a look i liked in a magazine or on tv and i’d scour every store until i found the thing that would get me a similar look at a fraction of the price. and if i absolutely couldn’t find it, i’d make it. i was a really crafty kid and have always made stuff. for example, when those tiffany’s charm bracelet things were really in style, i decide to make my own version with parts and pieces i found in a thrift store. that independent spirit and scrappiness is what i think made me want to become an entrepreneur.

when i was 12, we moved to atlanta and i continued dancing and doing school and thrifting and making stuff. i was dancing a ton at this point, and eventually my body had had enough and i was forced to walk away from my professional ballerina dreams. i was completely devastated and went through a pretty rough depression during this time. luckily my mom saw the silver lining and secretly applied me to colleges online. i got in to the university of georgia and decided to make the most of it. once i got there, i was obsessed with college. it was everything mtv had advertised it as and more. i was in a sorority, i had tons of friends, there were boys (!), and i felt like i was finally getting on track towards a new career i might like. 

i graduated with a finance degree and got a dream job working at google in austin. i spent the next year and a half learning how to cold call people, speak tech jargon, and use gmail better than you. google was an incredible place to start a career, but it just felt way too big for me, so i found a small digital agency in nyc that would hire me. i was with them for about a year and a half, doing strategy and sales. i went freelance from there and have been doing that ever since, helping companies with their digital marketing and advertising. it wasn’t until about a year ago that my inner creative fashion-y person started breaking out again, and i decided to start two eggs to really pursue that. 

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about two eggs. how did it come about?

lisa pastor: i was on the train one day heading to a meeting with a client when i had a vision of the perfect skirt. it was a tulle tutu skirt in like a light pink/peach/nude color and it had dollar signs embroidered right into the tulle. i actually chuckled out loud when this fanciful vision appeared in my head. it was so ridiculous and yet so chic. i pushed the idea to the back of my mind because i am an adult person and i had a business to run being an important digital marketing consultant. but the skirt wouldn’t go away. it haunted me. i started seeing tulle skirts everywhere, but none of them felt like something i would wear. eventually i bit the bullet and had someone make the skirt for me. the first time i put the skirt on, i felt something amazing - it was like a spark was ignited in my tummy and exploding happiness crystals throughout my whole body. it was incredible and i knew in that moment that if i could find a way to help other people feel this good, i’d have an amazing business on my hands. i started two eggs shortly thereafter and have been making accessories ever since. the name two eggs comes from the two eggs you add when you make boxed cake mix. it’s the only real thing you’re adding to the cake and represents your individuality and real-ness. 

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what is your process for making a collection?

lisa pastor: i’m a really visual person and i have this insane photographic memory that is always capturing little images of stuff i see. i pull from this large library of images to determine what the trends are and how i can make them my own. outside of just clothes, i also look at bigger macro trends in the media. i like asking questions like: what is everyone talking about? what do people need? what kind of lifestyles are people trying to live right now? once i decide on a theme using these techniques, the ideas just flow out of me. i imagine that it’s a lifetime of using clothes as costume that allows me to really freely brainstorm ideas from a concept. the next step from there is to decide on the color scheme and symbols i want to use. for girl gang, the colors were baby pink and baby blue and the symbols were the dollar sign and the rose. for slow n’ steady, the colors were forest green, burnt orange, black, and white and the symbols were the peace sign and the wave. 

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

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

lisa pastor: i’m inspired by the conversations i have! i am obsessed with talking to random people and will strike up a conversation with literally anyone. as an extrovert, i leave these conversations energized and excited to create, usually having learned something i can use in one of my collections. because we’re still a small business and i’m the only one designing, i’m fortunate to have the flexibility to create on my own design schedule. accessories also don’t need to be seasonal, so most of our stuff is available year-round.

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about the different collections you've created.

lisa pastor: the girl gang collection is about female badassery and the concept that we all get further in life if we support each other. nice girls really do finish first and i’ll be the first to tell you that two eggs would be nothing without the support i’ve received from friends far and wide. i’d been seeing a lot of famous women showcasing their #squads and was inspired by this idea around the time i was launching two eggs. it seemed like a surprisingly novel concept since i’d never really seen famous women openly being like, “hey, go buy my friend’s book!”, or like, “hey! i’m on the cover of this magazine and i’m wearing my friend’s line because i like it and i like her!”. it was really refreshing. i really thought about what pieces a real “girl gang” might be into, and it totally took me back to childhood when me and my friends would coordinate outfits or all buy the same thing to look like a crew. the jackets are an updated version of the pink lady jacket from grease because honestly who didn’t want those growing up? i decided to use vintage jackets because vintage denim is just the best. the idea for the money bag came from a fat stack of bills that you’d get from the bank. the bag sends a message to everyone that you are a badass woman who takes care of herself and doesn’t take no shit from nobody. 

the slow n’ steady collection came about when i noticed things like meditation, fitness, moving to california, self-care, and radical transparency gaining popularity. all my friends, especially those that are entrepreneurs, were talking about how they were trying to be more mindful to reduce stress and increase their health and happiness every day. i started thinking about what that kind of lifestyle looks and feels like to me, and i came up with the idea of taking things ‘slow n’ steady’. we really glamourize the “overnight success story” in the media and it breeds super unrealistic expectations for everyone. the best things in life take time, like a lot of time. i hope that the pieces i created for the collection work as reminders that slow n’ steady totally wins the race. 

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what are your own 'words to live'?

lisa pastor: i have a few! the first is no. i’m working right now on getting better about saying no. i’m such a yes-person and i can sometimes be too agreeable in situations where i should stand my ground. i also constantly having to remind myself that saying ‘no’ to someone else is saying ‘yes’ to you. the second is chill -- i say some version of this a lot every day. mostly, this just means that i don’t get my panties in a bunch over stuff. i’m working right now on letting go of trying to control everything and taking responsibility for me and my own actions only. and last but not least, please. did i say ‘nice girls finish first’, yet? throughout this whole process with two eggs, i’ve had to call in a lot of favors and ask a lot of uncomfortable questions. being grateful and thankful and generous in the ways you can afford go a long way in this world.

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: how has two eggs evolved since you started? how do you hope it evolves in the future?

lisa pastor: two eggs has evolved a lot from the beginning and continues to change almost every day. originally, i wanted to make and sell tutu skirts. but i realized that would be really hard considering i don’t have access to a factory or any official knowledge of garment production.  from there, i started creating these highly conceptual accessories collections and building a community through lifestyle content (i.e. girl gang and slow n’ steady). now i’m transitioning to focus more on the products themselves and really go deep in a few product categories. we got a lot of feedback in the past about how much people liked our content, but weren’t clear on what it was that we sold or made. though that was somewhat intentional in the earliest stages of two eggs, we’re now being more up-front with the fact that yes, this is a business, and we sell cool accessories. i hope we’re building the right foundation now so that two eggs can grow and evolve as the world changes. right now, i love what we’re doing, but we definitely have a lot more to give.

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

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

lisa pastor: there are so many, but here are a few highlights of designers i love: sandy liang (if i were to imagine what two eggs clothes would look like if i was an extremely talented designer, this is them), johanna ortiz, rosie assoulin, miuccia prada, elsa schiaparelli, sophia webster, poppy lissiman, rachel antonoff, valfre, etre cecile, julien david, jacquemus, molly goddard, and a bajillion more that i am forgetting. for art, my feed is basically flooded with people using egg imagery in their stuff. i was actually lucky enough to acquire one of the eggs from the christopher chiappa show that was at the kate werble gallery this year. i’m officially an “art collector” now.

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

lisa pastor: podcasts and my spotify discover weekly playlist. i love another round, all the manrepeller podcasts, mystery show (come back already!), this american life, everything from gimlet (startup, reply all, sampler, etc.), and modern love

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

lisa pastor: yes! i’ve been watching the cfda show on amazon and i’m really into it. it’s fascinating to see these designers that you idolize going through exactly the same struggles as you. also, girls is really good this season, and broad city is always good for a laugh. love those ladies. mostly right now, i’m inspired by real life stuff. i have made so many new friends throughout this journey that are doing incredible work that is so inspiring. i love looking to the guys at pintrill or baron von fancy or concrete + water or kurt lyle or kara bags or for inspiration. if they can do it, so can i!

 two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

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

lisa pastor: around my neighborhood, east williamsburg, i frequent pokito, diner, dokebi, best pizza andchamps. for shopping: narnia vintage, amarcord vintage, mociun, concrete + water. and for coffee, i go to sweatshop, blind barber bk and freehold.

* check out more of two eggs here // instagram // read my interview on the two eggs blog here *

cultureisland event recap // intercourse // dinner party

back in february, i hosted my first dinner party, intercourse, with some new friends sandra and claire. it fell on valentines day and we raised money for scarleteen, a sex education non-profit. sandra runs girl party, an awesome female focused event production company and claire is a chef who hosts dinner pop-ups. both also live in greenpoint so it was fun to partner with some rad ladies from around the neighborhood! i must admit this event was a lot of work but it was a super rewarding and enjoyable experience. it was the first time i fully rented/paid for a space and there were a lot more elements that went into it than my typical pop-ups -- preparing a full meal for our guests, bar service, decor, food service, trying to heat the venue on a freezing cold day, etc. 15 guests celebrated the day of love with us, and all seemed to have a great time. one couple had found out about in on greenpointers, the local news site, through a feature they did about where to spend valentines day. a friend from my birthright israel trip came along with his girlfriend, which was lovely since i hadn't seen them in forever. we also gave out party favors (below) including condoms, lube and illustrated sex education comic books by isabella rotman

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

my next event is in montreal, meaning cultureisland is going global! super excited about this one:

sara r. radin, nyc based curator of cultureisland, presents delicatessen, a pop-up exhibit of artwork by montreal’s emerging fast food painter, sarah osborne.

more about sarah osborne:

+ originally from montreal, painter sarah osborne received her undergraduate degree in visual arts at uqam | université du québec à montréal. she is currently pursuing an mfa at concordia university. sarah’s interest in capturing food started with a series of paintings she did last summer on the subject of jehane benoit. after leaving for paris to study at la sorbonne, benoit came back to quebec and became the first person to document the traditional quebecois food, cusine canadienne. as sarah was creating this series, she was simultaneously working at hof kelsten, jewish bakery where she grew curious about jewish traditions and cuisine. this ultimately inspired her to create contemporary still life paintings of food including bagels, deli sandwiches and pickles.

more about sara r. radin:

+ sara radin is a writer and curator who lives in brooklyn, new york. full time sara is an art, culture and travel editor for fashion trend forecasting publication, wgsn. in her free time, sara runs cultureisland, a platform for sharing the work of emerging creatives through online interviews and pop-up art events. sara is also a contributing writer for the huffington post and thought catalog, documenting her learnings and journey as a young, creative female navigating new york city.

sara and sarah were first introduced through a mutual friend/artist greg moncada over facebook. sara immediately fell in love with sarah’s paintings of deli sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs. together, the two came up with the idea of showing sarah’s paintings at a montreal deli. for several months, sara and sarah have been orchestrating this event over email and skype. they look forward to finally meeting in person, bringing this concept to life and celebrating with friends, family and strangers!

thank you to hof kelsten for hosting + helping us make this idea a reality! wine and mini deli sandwiches will be served with a $5 suggested donation.

rsvp // fb event

* view more of sarah's work on her website or  instagram *

art // heather garland 'love is like a butterfly' // at honey ramka

a few weeks ago i saw the below image of a palm tree painted on a ceramic spoon on instagram and freaked out (i'm obsessed with all things tropical and palm tree related, go figure cultureisland). the piece is by heather garland and her exhibit love is like a butterfly is currently showing at honey ramka gallery in bushwick, brooklyn until april 3rd. heather reinterprets found objects that are typically banal, adding paint, fringe, pearls, lace and fabric to make them new. she collects plates from the street, junk store, and from friends and takes them back to the studio. heather says, "sometimes i know exactly what will happen when i am in the shop; i know what intervention will happen when i start to paint. other times the plates sit around for years, waiting." this idea resonated me, since i'm an inspiration hoarder myself. i collect pages from magazines, art cards, images on tumblr/instagram plus words and phrases i see everywhere. i am constantly trying to figure out how i can use these hoardings in my work or save the ideas for later. about her plates, heather explains, "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." indeed, heather's plates are so sweet it hurts, plus i love the clever names of her pieces.

 heather garland // florida // 2016 // oil and glitter on found ceramic spoon rest // 9.5” x 4” x 1.5”

heather garland // florida // 2016 // oil and glitter on found ceramic spoon rest // 9.5” x 4” x 1.5”

 heather garland // rainbow brite iud // 2016 // oil and fringe on broken found ceramic platter // 10” x 10”

heather garland // rainbow brite iud // 2016 // oil and fringe on broken found ceramic platter // 10” x 10”

 heather garland // pearl harbor // 2016 // oil and pearl necklace on found ceramic bowl // 9” x 9” x 3”

heather garland // pearl harbor // 2016 // oil and pearl necklace on found ceramic bowl // 9” x 9” x 3”

 heather garland // something blue // 2016 // ralph lauren sampler under found glass dish // 10” x 4.25”

heather garland // something blue // 2016 // ralph lauren sampler under found glass dish // 10” x 4.25”

 heather garland // courting // 2016 // oil on found ceramic plate with 22k gold // 6” x 6”

heather garland // courting // 2016 // oil on found ceramic plate with 22k gold // 6” x 6”

 heather garland // standing in the doorway // 2016 // oil and on found ceramic plate with faux fur coat // 33” x 21” x 5”

heather garland // standing in the doorway // 2016 // oil and on found ceramic plate with faux fur coat // 33” x 21” x 5”

 heather garland // father and son // 2016 // lace applique on found ceramic plate // 10.5” x 10.5”

heather garland // father and son // 2016 // lace applique on found ceramic plate // 10.5” x 10.5”

 heather garland // grandma’s courting dress // 2016 // found ceramic plate with handkerchief // 8.5” x 8.5”

heather garland // grandma’s courting dress // 2016 // found ceramic plate with handkerchief // 8.5” x 8.5”

 heather garland // inner strength // 2015 // oil and gorilla glue with plate hanger on found ceramic plate // 9” x 9”

heather garland // inner strength // 2015 // oil and gorilla glue with plate hanger on found ceramic plate // 9” x 9”

cultureisland event recap // the denim disco 2 // february 13, 2016

despite frigid cold temperatures, the denim disco 2 was another smashing success. so many people came out, donated their denim and rang in my 27th birthday with me.  juan (wamoo papez) played a great mix of disco hits and contemporary tunes that blended seamlessly with the video alix and i put together last year. the event fell on the 13th of february, marking a year since i started doing cultureisland pop-ups, and my 13th event -- the perfect way to celebrate my birthday! pumped to be embarking on another year of collaborating with great people. plus, things are really starting to pick up i.e. people approaching me with exciting opportunities.  thank you for your support! oh and a party highlight was when a rad british chick i met the night before at a bakery, showed up with a box full of donuts. 

* photos by chris cawley + alix h. luntz *

nostalgia // seoul snapshots

i first met my friend dana through an old co-worker. dana is from seoul, south korea and last year she came to new york for a few months. we became pals and kept in touch over email when she went back to korea. in october, i got to go to shanghai for work and extended my layover in seoul to stay with dana. seoul reminded me of an asian san francisco as it's super hilly and incredibly modern/cosmopolitan. there was amazing food, shopping, art and culture there. it was the trendiest place i've ever been with the trendiest people i've ever seen. there was shopping everywhere you looked! for example, i bought a turtleneck in the subway.

dana was an incredible, thoughtful host and greeted me with a package of goodies -- korean candies, postcards, magnets and a disposable camera. i hadn't used one in ten years but it was the perfect way to document my time there (although many of the photos sadly didn't come out). dana showed me kindness that seems to embody her culture -- through out the trip she showered me with desserts, treats and candies. she also taught me a lot about life there and we spent much of our time together comparing notes on our different cultures. for example, creative pursuits are not widely supported in seoul especially as a profession. hearing this made me feel especially lucky to live in a country where art making is both widely pursued and supported. that trip taught me not to take that for granted. dana and i continue to keep in touch through the interwebs, sharing insights and experiences from afar.

cultureisland event recap // LADIES // a los angeles pop-up

back in january i went out to la and hosted the ladies event at otherwild. this was my first time orchestrating an event outside of new york and it went so well! first off, i couldn't believe how many people came out -- friends from college and high school i hadn't seen in years, friends who also happened to be in town from nyc and even a girl i had met at the broad museum the day before. the ladies who participated got along really nicely and at the end of the night they all swapped their artwork and exchanged phone numbers. it was amazing to see such a supportive group of strong, creative gals. many thanks to otherwild for hosting this thing and helping me make a dream a reality. the experience was so special and gave me the confidence to continue hosting events outside of new york.

 thank you to  movement buttons  for these ladies pins!

thank you to movement buttons for these ladies pins!

 thoughtful gesture from the coolest lady  sera sloane .

thoughtful gesture from the coolest lady sera sloane.

 snail mail from la ladies  julia  and  jillian !

snail mail from la ladies julia and jillian!

 and then my heart melted thanks to an old college galpal.

and then my heart melted thanks to an old college galpal.

small talk // leah guadagnoli // visual artist

leah guadagnoli is one of my new favorite artists. i came across her art last month when she was showing at 247365 on the lower east side, one of my favorite galleries. leah gave me a tour of her exhibit and ever since i've been obsessed with her work! leah is a really sweet, bright and humble lady. i find her pieces to be a cross between painting, sculpture and installation. they remind me of 80s bedding and dentist office decor with their bright and muted colors, eclectic patterns and angular shapes. i get excited and happy just looking at her pieces -- i seriously can't get enough of them!

cultureisland: tell us more about you. how did you get into art making?

leah guadagnoli: i grew up in the suburbs of chicago. i always loved drawing and painting. i used to spend my summers as a kid drawing under this huge, magical tree in my back yard. my grandma (omi) would also take me to art museums and always encouraged me to make art. i got my first set of paint for christmas when i was in 5th grade and was so excited to use it. that night i spent the whole evening painting my first horrible self-portrait. i spilled a huge glob of cadmium red on my carpet in the process. after water, soap, rubbing alcohol, bleach, and nail polish remover didn’t remove the stain i just cut the chunk of carpet out and placed a rug over it. when my mom went to vacuum later that week she was furious! i was then condemned to working in the dark dingy boiler room in the basement which i cherished as my first studio all the way through high school. 

i then went to undergrad at university of illinois at urbana-champaign where i studied painting and art history. i lived in italy for a minute which was delicious and productive. when i graduated went straight to grad school at rutgers where i got my mfa. i then moved to brooklyn where i currently live, work, and have an incredibly supportive community. i spent last summer at yaddo in saratoga springs, ny. my time there played an enormous roll on the development and maturation of my newest work. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your fabric paintings.

leah guadagnoli: when i was in grad school i started collecting fabric. i wasn’t sure what i was going to do with it but i just kept buying more. i started making abstract paintings of the patterns. those were really tedious and boring to look at but an important step. there was one transitional painting (one of my favorites to this day) when i started draping and securing fabric over the painted canvas. i eventually stopped using paint all together and wanted to use fabric in a similar vocabulary to painting. that was my thesis show. when i moved to nyc i bought a bunch of upholstery and furniture cushion. i wanted to gain more control over the forms and somehow work outside of a rectangle while still making work for a wall. and boom! i made some drawings and used them to model these newer works. 

i use all kinds of fabric: cotton, velvet, thick upholstery, etc. i either try and find fabric online from etsy and ebay or i use illustrator to design patterns and have them printed using spoonflower.  

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

leah guadagnoli: i start with a drawing that i measure to scale and draw out on a large sheet of insulation board. i cut it apart, trim and place pieces polyurethane foam (furniture padding), and adhere canvas, fabric, or upholstery over each section. some parts are painted over and/or given different treatments to add texture. i make many of my decisions based on the patterns in the fabric (color, shapes, even textures). when each piece is finished i put it back together like a puzzle and secure it onto a larger piece of insulation board. the work is actually super lightweight.  

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

leah guadagnoli: pattern and its link to memory. youth. communal space. furniture. gaudy interior design. architecture.

cultureisland: how do you name your works?

leah guadagnoli: i once designed some fabric based on a security envelope pattern and sewed the scraps into an oversized envelope i used in this epic prank where i filled it with phosphorescent glitter and gave it to my awesome boyfriend. when he opened it glitter spilled everywhere, it was amazing. i named the painting i made with this fabric from your secret admirer.  

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work?

leah guadagnoli: i love being in the studio, listening to music, dancing, and bringing something new into the world. i also really enjoy being alone and left unbothered. i work from the living room in my apartment (which is actually spectacular) and choose not to have internet or a television. i shut my phone off when i work and really try to get into an uninterrupted headspace without any outside distractions. inspirations include the memphis group, pee wee’s playhouse, casinos, coach buses, broaches, second hand stores, modernist architecture, diners, movie theaters, hard candy, fashion

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artist?

leah guadagnoli: julia bland, marc camille chaimowicz, gaby collins-fernandez, holly coulis, jennifer grimyser, ridley howard, noam rappaport, ruth root, aliza morell, nathan mullins, molly ledbetter, gyan schrosbee, sadie benning, wendy white, diane simpson and jing yu. 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

leah guadagnoli: john maus, ariel pink, low, the space lady, prince rama, belong, anika, dan deacon, u.s. girls.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

leah guadagnoli: the recent blizzard was pretty epic...

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

leah guadagnoli: for eating, cent'anni. for shopping, fat alberts (that place has everything!) for coffee, pel's pie.

* check out more of leah's work here // instagram *

art // collages by giulia bernardi

my friend giulia first found me on instagram. she reached out over email and we became instant friends, irl. giulia lives in milan but spent time in new york this past summer. i introduced her to some of my friends and showed her aspects of my life in new york. then last fall, i had the incredible opportunity of visiting giulia in italy. i spent time with her family and friends and she showed me aspects of her life in milan. giulia is now one of my e-galpals. we keep in touch through the interwebs and share aspects of our lives from afar.

giulia is a trend researcher and a collage maker too, so we have a lot of shared interests and passions. she also does social media for nou magazine. here, she shares about her recent collages, which you can also find here.

giulia bernardi: i like spontaneous art. i'm fascinated by images of daily life. it’s at the heart of everything i do. it's my main inspiration. i like to observe what happens around me. i like to see and watch people as way to find new ideas to understand what's going on around me. my favorite spot to do research is at the bar or coffee shop. drink a coffee and watch what happens around me.

i see my collage work as an act of research. i put all the images together and change their meaning and context. i like to tell stories with my collages. they are realistic. i don't like surrealism. life is true. my work is me, 100%. it's the only place where i'm honest and have full self-confidence. i use collage as a way to calm myself down, to help me realize what's going on in my life and to talk about my current or latest obsessions. i use collage to heal from what has hurt me. making a collage helps me fully realize and work through periods of my life.

i like images of daily life. i like to mix fashion photos with documentary photos and snapshots. i really like documentary photos. i like blurred and faded photos. i like photos taken with old cameras. i want to learn how to make good photos so i can use them in my collages but i don't have that skill right now. instead, i would like to think of myself as a collector of images. when you don't know how to make something, you have to work with what you got. i’m good at collecting images and researching things. collage allows me to use those skills and make something with it.

some of these collages are inspired by a guy i fell in love with, but he's not into to me anymore. it sounds cheesy, i know. but after a lot of tears, i was able to turn my pain into something positive. sometimes i feel like i wasted a lot of time on him, so some of the collages are inspired by that feeling. others are inspired by my experience and love for travel. ulysses and penelope are my favorites characters from when i was a child. i created scrapbook for nou magazine inspired by them, seeing penelope as a woman who doesn't wait around for ulysses at home, instead she is a woman who is out and about, experiencing the world while also trying to find herself. but, you know, more discover new things and more you don't want to bring you back your past! in some of my other collages, there isn't really a specific idea behind them. instead they are simply striking images with words that i heard in a song or read somewhere. words are really important to my collage making process. other collages are pages from scrapbooks i made during school when i was studying fashion design, showing the creative process of making a fashion collection.

i look for images on the internet and don't stop searching until i find what i want. then i print the images or scan images from magazines or books. i hate to ruin and cut images from magazines or books, even if it's the crap/worst magazine in the world. for me, printed periodicals are sacred! also i use found images and scraps collected from my travels, or from my daily life. i like objects that represent a sort of memory. i love old memories. also i used some digital elements thanks to photoshop or illustrator or depends! 

small talk // carey maxon // visual artist

i met carey maxon in a magical way. back in november i attended the eab fair (editions/artist's books fair). carey and her colleague lured me into their print studio's booth and she was immediately interested in what i've been working on. we exchanged info and carey later emailed me saying: "what i like about people like you is that you help make art visible in the world - in unexpected places - and those are great places for art to be!" i was totally speechless, honored and immediately knew this was someone i wanted to work with.

carey is a well-established artist. her work is in the permanent collection of the whitney, the moma and the brooklyn museum. and yet she's super approachable, down to earth and one of the funniest/quirkiest people i've ever met. carey also lives in greenpoint and has an amazing apartment that doubles as her art studio; it's full of her own dots plus artwork from her friends and many acquaintances. carey is actually moving to italy soon since she recently received a plot of land there (more on that in her interview below). we've talked about doing a few projects before she heads out and i hope they come to fruition!

 carey maxon // influence schematic ii // print // 16.25" x 13" // 2015

carey maxon // influence schematic ii // print // 16.25" x 13" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

carey maxon: i grew up in the bay area. my mom was a teacher all her life and was very interested in childhood development. she put me on the floor with paints when i was less than a year old.  i was really into it from the get go. apparently, my other favorite activity was digging in the dirt outside.

i went to a great elementary school. when we studied the gold rush, the teachers spray painted little gold pebbles and put them in the creek that ran through campus. we all spent the day looking for gold. after so many years in new york, i look back and think it was incredible to go to a school with a creek running through it! let alone all the cutting edge education. at barnard college i was an art history/visual art major. there were only about ten of us in the major there but we had cross registration with columbia so it was a mixture of large lectures with stellar academics and small studio classes. professors like rosalind krauss, benjamin buchloh, simon schama come to mind and i was there right when columbia’s mfa program got hot. kiki smith, elizabeth peyton, and kara walker were around the studios. there was also this really great photographer named thomas roma. he made me accept a tough brooklyn ball-buster voice into my art-making soul forever. of digital cameras, no matter how fancy, he said things like,  “this isn’t a camera. this is a sweet potato.”

brooklyn and i have now been together for 17 years. back in 2000 when i graduated from college, i basically postponed getting an office job by running off to italy. i lived there for 2 years - picked olives and made drawings. earlier this year the man who owned the farm where i was living passed away and left me his estate. i guess he had written the will in 2002. he always hinted that this might happen, but i never believed him. i hadn’t spoken to him for 13 years because i got the sense he wanted things to be romantic and i didn’t want to give the wrong impression. now, i am busy with the legal transition and working with the two 75 year-old farmers rosa and giotto, along with their children and grandchildren, to keep the place going. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your dot paintings and drawings. how does your interest psychotherapy play a part in your work?

carey maxon: i am interested in action patterns generally and think the world is basically made up of them. think city. think leaf growing. my early drawings were a kind of impression of the overwhelming way all these patterns overlap. the dots are more of a cessation of the overlap, a conscious choice to limit myself and provide an image of that reduction. it’s like clearing a space on a desk. 

i think agnes martin said something to the effect of a good painting presents an alternative. my question is: what if the feeling of doing one random thing over and over again could put the drama of our human existence into perspective? 

therapy creates a constant in which to investigate what’s going on in the psyche. doing the dots function like that too. in therapy, there are sessions; in paintings there are dots. every time i make one, part of me feels limited, and part of me feels free. this relates to single point meditation in buddhism, or ashtanga yoga practice. the focus there is on the breath. but drawing too, provides a constant for the chaos to relate to. 

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

carey maxon: lately i have been meditating for 10 minutes before i start painting. i have a particular question in mind – like, “where should i go with this series on aluminum plates?” i just sit down, set my timer for ten minutes and make mental notes of what comes to mind. there is usually a series of thoughts or images. sometimes it’s a color, a sensation, and sometimes it’s a full composition of a painting. one per minute? not always, sometimes it's three in a quick succession and then a pause where nothing seems very significant. i try to remember what has filtered in and i write it down, or make little sketches. 

doing the meditation helps me learn the difference between ideas that are ‘pursued’ from a conscious, driven mind and those that just kind of blossom up or float in from who knows where. i guess i feel like the hard worker in me will do cartwheels and swim upstream until it hurts and i ruin things; but some of my best ideas, or the ones that fascinate me personally, are the ones that just appear.

the process of being an artist isn’t that different from the average joe’s process of working at whatever he’s working at. a few goals, a few pleasures, something you try for the heck of it.  an interest, some requirements, research, stabs in the dark, couple risks here and there. the whole thing about being an artist is to develop an original group of preoccupations. this may seem weird to people, it may be ‘liked’ or not but it’s really just a way of being. for me, it’s a very happy way of being. i think people who aren’t all that interested in art tend to mark artists as crazy, and i find that de-humanizing. sometimes i want to say, to the sports fanatics, for example, hey, we have something in common, we are both watching dots. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on? how do you name your work?

carey maxon: have you heard of black matter? it’s something like 90% of matter and we know nothing about it. i like thinking about that and presume that my body might know something about it even if my so-called brain doesn’t. when it comes to naming my work, i look at what i’ve made. i listen to what comes to mind. there will be an image or one word. i try to catch it if i can and follow it until i am somewhere interesting. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create?

carey maxon: i have been inspired by countless human creations - buildings, paintings, jewelry, textile designs, sculpture – from all over the world. the people that make these things are true creatives. what they make establishes an atmosphere for all of us to live within. i just try to be a part of that family because of how much i’ve gained from what they’ve all done for me. of course, what lies beyond that family -- and deeper within it of course -- is nature. human nature, elemental nature, plant nature, food sources – that stuff drives me and is me, i guess.  

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

carey maxon: so, sometimes i feel like i have 10 visions to dip into, like ten cans of paint on a table. i’m responding to my environment and my environment changes over the years. but, i can still remember where and how i was a long time ago. there’s obsessive-isolated-repetitive-termite carey, right there next to zen reductionist carey, oh then there’s nostalgic, colored pencil, fire-island boardwalk carey. my work has appeared differently over the years, but the motivation and the approach is always the same. the center of my work is sincerity – i.e., an authentic and even fervent interest in what i am doing. you can be sure that i wanted to do everything i have ever done. not like, ‘thought it was a good idea’ but instead, i really wanted to make this.  in a way art has been this fun rabbit hole, or totally private way to freak out, dance my way into oblivion, build things, climb mountains, go on trips and even get some good rest.  it’s me, it’s my life. is your life always the same? it is so pleasurable for me.  the feeling of freedom is one of the major things i like about it. i never reach a new visual interest – like faces or paper dolls – and think, oh but how will that relate to my previous body of work? 

maybe my next step is to consider these artistic periods aesthetically, like imagine them as a row of developments and work on what’s next as a type of aesthetic answer to what came before. i will say, “maybe” on that one. the factor of the wild and unknown has always been an element of my work.  i work and i work (and try not to be too strategic, pretentious, egotistical or market oriented about it) and figure that in the end it will stand for something. now that i think about it, that is exactly how i made those drawings in my twenties. mark here, mark there, mark here, mark there, until there’s one big – or 40 x 60 inch - picture of a bunch of marks i didn’t know why i was making them. they really resonated with people. maybe it’s just that, the inanity, and beauty too, of incessant activity with an undetermined purpose.

cultureisland: you worked for the print shop, derriere l'etoile studios, for many years. how has your relationship with the owner, maurice, influenced your work? what was it like working there?

carey maxon: working at the shop?! doing the books was like getting a drivers license to adulthood. witnessing artists like rita ackermann, tracey emin, josh smith, whitfield lovell, and charlene von heyl do their jobs?! watching them is like winning the lotto as far as jobs in new york go. at a print shop you actually see them work. how do they move their arms, how often do they step back, what kind of mood are they in, what do they like to eat and drink when they work. i witnessed all of them, and those are just a few of my favorites. i have been very very lucky. when he met me, i think maurice saw a pretty vulnerable character. my work had fallen out of favor, i was socially rather disconnected, i’d been sold as an ‘outsider’ but i think he knew i wasn’t exactly that. i got the sense that he saw ‘something wrong with this picture’ and he just took me under his wing so we could figure it out. i remember once he painted “help me help carey” in blue letters on a white t-shirt – he put a mexican mask on his face and i took a picture. it’s his visual sensibility, technical know-how, persistent sense of humor within the creative process, and again a good dose of ball-buster, that does just that.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

carey maxon: louise bourgeois, hilma af klint, piero della francesca, yayoi kusama, agnes martin, francesco clemente, joan mitchell, rose wylie. 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now? have you watched anything inspiring lately?

carey maxon: right now i'm listening to kollektiv turmstrasse. a track called “sorry i am late.”recently, i watched an hbo doc – autism in love. it's about adults on the spectrum developing romantic relationships. amazing. also watched a netflix series called run. it’s fiction, but realist. their lives are low-income lives. one is about an illegal immigrant selling dvds. follows her through her travails. i have always liked realism in film.

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

carey maxon: i don’t really eat shop or drink that much. i am super human ca-ray max-on!!! but when i do…. crema, ashbox, electric nest, kula yoga, vinebox, eddys room.

* check out more of carey's work here // instagram *

small talk // naomi clark // visual artist

 naomi clark // peach moves // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // peach moves // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

i first discovered naomi clark's work last summer at a moma ps1 warm up party where she and her collective, fort makers, had created the stage backdrop. the backdrop had beautiful colors and abstract shapes -- immediately i had to meet the artist behind it! a few months ago i had the pleasure of doing a studio visit with naomi herself. during our visit, i felt a lot of synergy with the artist and her creative work. first, naomi considers herself a female robert rauschenberg (my favorite artist since i was a kid) and much of her creative process involves collaborative art making. naomi says that when talking about your work, it is all encompassing: "life is art and art is life." she believes art is a place where we can act out ideas. naomi even considers her mistakes part of her artistic process. as an artist and a collaborator, naomi is constantly learning how to balance individual expression and her many collaborative projects.

 naomi clark // primaries with pink // mono print // 22" x 30" // 2015

naomi clark // primaries with pink // mono print // 22" x 30" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

naomi clark: i came to brooklyn in 2006 to study painting. i moved from my hometown of boulder, colorado. brooklyn was another beast. i told my family and friends i would be back right after i finished school and now it’s been a decade. that’s the thing with new york; you never really finish school because there is so much to learn. one year i joined the community garden and befriended the old-timers who plant themselves there in the summer. they asked me (and still do) why in the world i would leave colorado for ny… this question is more a conversation starter, a way to assess the pro and cons of city life, i think it probably happens about a zillion times everyday in the city.

 naomi clark // red blue nude // mixed media collage // 12" x 17" // 2015

naomi clark // red blue nude // mixed media collage // 12" x 17" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings. what led you to select painting as a medium?

naomi clark: i always loved to paint. paint = freedom. when i was a kid i would color and color and until the whole page was filled in, no white space. that is how i understood to finish a piece.

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

naomi clark: my process is constantly being refined. i now think of each work in the context of a series. i think individual abstract works are better understood within a group. it places the work into a larger visual landscape. then are the plain old ‘nuts and blots’ space to work, material gathering, and preparation. after all this the fun comes. 

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

naomi clark: i focus on the interaction of form through color and gesture.

 naomi clark // three moons away // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // three moons away // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: how has your painting style evolved over time?

naomi clark: my style as become more contemplative and the forms have become larger and more articulated. my style has matured with me. i still want rawness in my work. this is now a challenge; where as when i was younger the challenge was control.

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces?

naomi clark: i stare and stare at the piece and think of the first things that come to mind. then i piece the words that come together and play with them until they fit. i really enjoy naming my work.

 naomi clark // blue // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // blue // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about fortmakers. what is it and how did it come about?

naomi clark: fort makers started the year i left school. i met my co-founder nana through friends and we hit it off creatively. she was looking for a change and i was looking to continue my creative journey in brooklyn. i asked her to help me curate my thesis show at pratt. i liked how she was so enthusiastic about art. it was great. we started fort makers off with ‘the blanket project’. i made a series of ‘quilt paintings’ and we went from there. the name fort makers evokes the childhood game of building forts. it is also about people working together to build something. we are very inspired by the bauhaus. i am one of the artists that fort makers collaborates with as well as a founding member. 

 naomi clark // canopy // monoprint // 20" x 30"// 2015

naomi clark // canopy // monoprint // 20" x 30"// 2015

cultureisland: what affect has teaching had on your work?

naomi clark: i love teaching. teaching has helped me articulate ideas and learn new techniques. i like meeting students and hearing their stories and what brought them art.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

naomi clark: i have been thinking a lot about andrea zitell’s work. i admire jessica stockholder, jonas wood, and paul wackers, eddie martinez, and ron nagle, el anasui and helen frankenthaler

 naomi clark // mud huts // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // mud huts // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

naomi clark: pinchy and friends and the mixtape club. i love jazz, there is this great song my heart belong to daddy by dizzy gillespie. i like dolly parton and 90’s rock, especially the yeah yeah yeahs, weezer and the red hot chili peppers; i also love future islands and the hold steady. i love blood orange and conan mockasin.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

naomi clark: um, hmmm, i saw chi-raq!! loved it! i thought it was a highly intelligent piece of art (with a capital a!) that addressed many pressing issues in our country happening right now.

 naomi clark // red // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // red // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

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

naomi clark: the civil service café is my favorite coffee and they have this hot sauce called fil fil that is sooo good! it’s like 100 gloves of garlic in one bite and will get rid of a cold on the spot. i like bedford hill for their bagels, i like the tacos at lucha lucha and come on everybody to shake a leg. as for shopping, i like giving all my expendable income to my yoga studio around the corner, a good sweat is worth a billion bucks. 

* check out more of naomi's work here // instagram *

cultureisland event // intercourse: an alternative valentines day dinner party

i'm hosting this valentines day dinner party in collaboration with two other greenpoint gals!

the greenpoint, brooklyn ladies behind cultureisland, girl party and cooking with claire are coming together for an exciting, alternative valentines day dinner party. the secret location will be announced prior to the event and it's definitely a place you wouldn't want to miss (hint it's not far from our neighborhood). we are also collecting a suggested donation of $15 for scarleteen, a sex education nonprofit. please note there are only 20 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 is a writer and a curator.

girl party: is a brooklyn based event company, connecting extraordinary women in our communities through unconventional gatherings. founded in the summer of 2015, girl party partners with neighboring businesses, individuals and teams to create all-new experiences and opportunities for women to meet, collaborate and play.

cooking with claire: cooking with claire, based in greenpoint, brooklyn, is a private cooking service that focuses on connecting people through personalized, intimate events featuring simple and healthy meals. recently chef claire phelan has focused on pop-up dinners and in-home group cooking lessons. claire is also the editor of online zine, meat stories.

scarleteen: scarleteen is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. founded in 1998, is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. it is the highest ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through most of its tenure.

maría conejo: maría is a mexico city based artist and designer. her artwork consists of mixed media in drawing, embroidery and an experimentation of materials. “The body of my artwork consists of abstractions of female bodies; it is more of a gesture rather than the sexualization of it. My intention is to generate symbols to create a universal encyclopedia of emotions.” María's designed the figure on our invite.

facebook event // tickets can be purchased via eventbrite

cultureisland event // the denim disco 2 // saturday february 13th

i'm bringing back my first cultureisland event, the denim disco! join us for a denim themed party + bring an old pair to help a great cause.

back story on the denim disco: last year i wanted to do something different for my birthday, a denim themed party. then i found out about Blue Jeans Go Green™ which uses recycled denim to create insulation for homes in need. i thought, everyone should wear denim AND bring a pair to donate to a good cause. the year before, i attended bowl train at brooklyn bowl, where questlove dj's soul train hits with tv's playing clips from the show. i also wanted disco music and a projected film to be a part of this event. so the denim disco became a hybrid theme party. i'm really excited to bring it back again, only slightly different from its original form! 

 (this event is FREE and we will be in the BACK ROOM of jeromes)

(this event is FREE and we will be in the BACK ROOM of jeromes)

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 bringing people together, introducing her friends and celebrating all kinds of creativity.

washhouse denim/bpd washhouse / bpd expo: bpd washhouse is the only commercial full service denim development studio on the east coast. the consulting company also launched their own brand for men's under the washhouse denim label. their latest venture is the only interactive denim trade show globally, bpdexpo 3.0 is scheduled for june 2016 in soho nyc.

Blue Jeans Go Green™: all denim collected will benefit Blue Jeans Go Green™, a denim recycling program run by Cotton Incorporated. since 2006, the program has diverted over 600 tons of denim from landfills across the nation and recycled it into UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation. a portion of this insulation has been distributed to help communities in need -- learn more @!

+ wamoo papez: juan alvarez, or wamoo papez, is a musician, dj and sound artist. juan is a native new yorker who recently released an instrumental lp, zebra. juan will play a blend of disco and disco inspired music.

+ chris cawley: chris cawley is a photographer who recently moved to new york city from philly. he can often be found sneaking photos of you on the subway or on the streets of manhattan. chris will be shooting portraits at the event.

alix h. luntz: alix h. luntz is a new york based photographer and filmmaker. her work explores questions of contemporary fandom, fashion and masculinity in film. she is currently an agent at muse management and is the founder of a's tv list. alix and i will be showing the projected film of clips from the 70s that we created for last year's party.

hope to see you there + please pass onto friends!

fb event // eventbrite

(p.s. this party falls on the eve of my 27th birthday)

writing // pop-up film screening of ELLIS by JR // event review by elizabeth scholnick

i recently asked my good friend, elizabeth scholnick, of mindbreath magazine, to write a recap of an event we attended some months back. lizzy is now the first official cultureisland contributor and overtime i'll be adding more voices to the mix.


one evening back when the weather was a bit warmer and coats weren’t of season i was invited to see jr’s new short, ellis. in ellis, short for ellis island, robert dinero faces brisk new winds on america's new land, as his voice takes us on a journey through silent retreat back when new footsteps and louder voices pierced the halls of the abandoned buildings you see in ‘ellis’. 

the event was held in a youthful and spacious venue called: interface. interface is a place that brings together like-minded individuals – one where culture, ideas and people come together to collaborate in meaningful conversation. this particular event was hosted by pop-up art event.

as we sat down, we were handed wireless head-phones, allowing each of us our own unique experience with the film. after an introduction by juliet, founder of pop-up art event, the lights went off, and action! immediately, it felt as if we were immersed in an imax theater both visually and auditorially. it was like we were actually a part of the film. the glittery snow, dinero’s voice, and the history of how people came to america were brought back to life by stark black and white images JR had pasted to these old, decrepit buildings. all fourteen minutes of this beautiful feature made it all worthwhile to come out that evening. 

at the end the lights went on and we were then succumbed back to reality, back to the present america, new york, new york. then, several people shared their stories and their grandparent’s history of how they made their voyage into america during that time. it was all very interesting to here people’s stories, and how they connected to the film. it was an interactive experience for everyone. 

then a talented and powerful young woman read her prolific poem that truly connected to what was happening that night at interface: 

"life liberty and the pursuit of happiness" by herina ayot 

fairytales sell us a lie of an american dream that isn't possible. we build a false idea of a happily ever 

after that exists in the confines of our imagination.

searching for our piece of the american pie, finding only obstacles. crossing the atlantic to build a stronger foundation... what's happened to god's creation? african, indian, asian, and haitian. red, yellow, 

black, and white, we're all precious in his sight. looking for a better life in a new location. international migration.

but we find only more frustration.

land of the free and home of the brave. white picket fences and yellow brick roads built on the backs of slaves.

whose land is this?

whose dream is this?

i can see it in the distance but how out of reach this is?

they say the grass is greener but there's a thorn on that side. a much greater divide. a lot of demand that's under supplied.

a very long line.

many nights i cried. many nights i died simply trying to survive.

america the beautiful. a broken system frought with lies. rags to riches...heh...see, theres a whole lot of 

gliches. i had to lay on my back to avoid the ditches. avoid the snitches. those sons of bitches.

and all i hear is "go back home." go back to lithuania, go back to mexico. go back to africa, go back to romania.

but "home" is a place i long ago left. no rest for the weary. ancestors rich in history but poor in theory. 

"forward" for me is much more than a slogan taught. blood sweat and tears was the rate for this new home 

i bought. i left sodom and gomorrah. no pillar of salt. looking for a new home. peace love and shalom. i 

won't forget my culture, but when in rome...

when in rome... do as the romans do. move like they move but to yourself be true. walk that walk. talk 

that talk. i'll be a good steward in this new home i bought.

america ain't all it’s cracked up to be, but far greater, far sweeter than the stuff i seen. for now i'm free. 

this anniversary, a kind of jubilee. my new life here is not a static thing. it moves. it breathes, a kind of dance under an apple pie tree.

and i may not have an academic degree, but i've come from sea to shining sea, bearing this existence to a 

more tolerable degree. i'm praying for life and liberty.

america america god shed his grace on me.

everyone that night could feel how many of us were there because of our freedom, and because of what our grandparents and parents made for us here. for those who grew up in new york and know the backgrounds of many of these streets, how much of this creativity we have to thank to those very souls plastered and remembered because of jr. like robert dinero says in the beginning of ‘ellis’: “i remember the sound of the wind as i was falling asleep… “ we all awoke to another day on this beautiful land of america, united, and it was another chance for acceptance, change, opportunity and creative expression to live on, as it always has.

cultureisland event recap // the souvenir shop // a holiday pop-up at community 54

i was honored when my guys from community 54 asked me to curate their holiday pop-up. i had a blast pulling this one together. we had a great mix of cool stuff, like collages by mike desutter, merch by villainous new york, pins by movement button pins, books by new york pizza project, and ceramics by saint karen. all of which are still for sale in the shop, so check it out while you still can @ 186 avenue b! we got lucky with the weirdly warm winter weather + everyone was able to hang in the shop's backyard. it was a great turn out + even greater times.

also, read community 54's blog post on mike's collages here.

thank you alix h luntz for the photos and thank you rizzos + radiant pig beer for sponsoring!

required reading // cultureisland x yoga margo 2016 reading list

for our sideways event, margo and i decided to pull together a list of our favorite reads for those who attended the event, but i also wanted to share it here along with the polaroids chris took of everyone and their boards.

 polaroids by  chris cawley

polaroids by chris cawley

cultureisland x yoga margo 2016 reading list:

1. the moral bucket list // david brooks // nyt

2. the crossroads of should and must // elle luna // medium

3. the other education // david brooks // nyt

4. six figures to none and loving every minute // allison kendro // the inertia

5. lady gaga and the life of passion // david brooks // nyt

6. want to get more creative? get bored // martin lindstrom // fast company

7. happiness isn't the absence of negative feelings // jennifer moss // harvard business review

8. big magic: creative living beyond fear // elizabeth gilbert

10. wherever you go, there you are // jon kabat-zinn

happy reading + new year!

cultureisland event // LADIES // a los angeles pop-up

some twelve events later and i'm officially taking cultureisland to the west coast next week. this is truly a dream come true and i'm freakin excited to collaborate with some awesome los angeles based females on this event.

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.

allie pohl: allie pohl (ideal woman) is a los angeles-based conceptual artist whose work explores the social and cultural constructions of contemporary western society. pohl created the “ideal woman” symbol to question the notion of perfection. ideal woman jewelry and stickers will be available along with man merrit badges from her peacocking series

+ julia jeanguenat: julia is a graphic designer + art director by day and a collage artist by night. she is a self-proclaimed paper hoarder with an affinity for vintage magazines, ephemera and other printed items. this habit lent itself to a collection of handmade collages that dissects these materials to create playful, quirky or surreal graphic relationships — often focused on re-contextualizing female subjects found in traditional media. she recently moved to long beach, california.

+ lyndsay phaneuf: lyndsay is a fashion designer who moved to los angeles a few years ago by way of new york city. the move inspired her to rekindle her love of baking and led to her starting i bake bitch, a line of guilty pleasure baked goods. she makes delicious cookies, brownies and desserts based on many of her grandma’s recipes.

+ jillian evelyn: jillian is an la-based illustrator and a print/graphic designer for toms shoes. jillian’s illustrations are moody with feminist snark and no filter. her work is bold, graphic and it uses a limited color palette including mostly black and white.

+ sera sloane: sera is an la-based hair stylist and artist. she describes her work as “devotional love slogans” and “teenage bedroom art.” sera creates poetic phrases with sticker letters and puts them on posters, pins, cards and mylar balloons. she will also cut bangs on a first come first serve basis for $10. you'll also be able to shop some of her favorite products by r+co.

+ otherwild: otherwild was founded within, and inspired by a vast, multidisciplinary community of talented artists and designers. it operates as a graphic studio, a store, a community center, a workshop and an event space in echo park, los angeles. it is owned by rachel berks.

RSVP via facebook // eventbrite // evensi

hope to see you there + please pass onto LA friends!

cultureisland event recap // sideways // a vision board workshop

our sideways event was pure magic. it turned out to be the perfect evening -- a small, intimate gathering of some good friends and friends of friends sharing a fully present and open space. georgia's already cozy, cool shop was converted into a moody lounge as we dimmed the lights, laid out furry blankets on the floor and lit candles all over the shop. once everyone arrived, margo led a meditation session that i found totally accessible; i've never been very good at meditating, but i found comfort in her calm, familiar voice. as i closed my eyes, let go of my day and became more aware of my breath, margo asked:

what would you like to invite into your life? to bring into the new year? where do you see yourself in the coming year? what do you want for yourself? draw up an image or word in your head. hold onto it. keep it close.

she also said that by being there (both physically and mentally), everyone was not only doing good for themselves but for others. in that moment, i remembered this is exactly what i'm all about.

she then led the group in making vision boards, saying that vision boards allow us to open up and identify areas of exploration, not just improvement. we were to sort through magazines, tear out things that resonated with us (tearing is innately very therapeutic) and create a visual representation of the things we would like to invite into the year ahead. the two of us didn't get a chance to participate, but we happily watched as the others mindfully ripped out little bits of inspiration and pasted them to their boards. then, we did a group show of the boards. margo explained an important part of this process is presenting and sharing what you've made. everyone walked around with post-it notes, admired each other's work and left a nice note or new year's wish for the creator.

margo shared some helpful tips for making these visions realities:

1) start small: start with mini goals that make it super easy to succeed

2) celebrate the little successes: be proud of yourself!

3) don’t be too hard on yourself

4) create a “cheer squad”: act as cheerleaders and coaches for each other, encouraging each other, and celebrating each other’s progress.

5) keep at it: practice, practice, and practice.

at the end, chris, our friend/event photographer, snapped a polaroid of each person with their board. throughout the night, the mood was light, airy and there was a special energy in the room. 

and as margo said the next day, "everyone was there, fully there, ready to have fun, get creative and open up."

last sunday, we got together to mail out everyone's polaroids and made our own vision boards together, the perfect way to end this process. we're talking about doing some more related events, so stay tuned! i'll also be sharing the polaroids here separately along with a reading list margo and i compiled of our favorite reads soon.

* many thanks to everyone who attended / chris cawley for the photos / georgia for hosting / and grapeful for the wine / collectively we raised almost $300 for projectart! *

cultureisland event recap // on paper // jason turner art pop-up + mind breath magazine launch party

i think the on paper party was likely cultureisland's best turn out yet. the space was jam packed with people -- many of which we didn't know, nor did they know us. i've been getting better about posting these events on other websites and it was wicked cool to see strangers come out and support what we're doing. we were all pretty blown away by the crowd. at these events, people really connect. i see my friends from all different aspects of my life engaging with each other. i make a point to introduce friends doing similar stuff -- i love when my worlds collide and i'm even more excited when these introductions turn into friendships and collaborations of their own. 

alix (cultureisland's photographer) decided to pick up some disposable cameras and capture the party that way -- i had to post the color and black/white versions here, cause they're too good. she also perfectly captured the moment i was offered a job at this party.

p.s. jason turner's work is up at la petite mort til january 13th and lizzy scholnick's mind breath magazine is still on sale there, both in person and online. shop jason's work here and lizzy's magazine here.

small talk // michael desutter // collage artist

i first met michael desutter through my past workshop with the brooklyn collage collective in july. after following him on instagram for many months and loving his work, i reached out and we set up a time to do a studio visit. mike often hosts collage artists and every day folks at his studio and sometimes creates collaborative pieces with his visitors. i was honored to be one of these lucky people as i've been creating collages my whole life. after picking mike's brain about his journey to today, his creative work and his interest in symmetry, we got collaging.

since that day, i've collaborated and interacted with mike on several occasions. i must admit my relationship with mike is one of my most interesting and most challenging ones. mike and i are incredibly different. often i tell him he's very button up where i'm the complete opposite. i'm not even totally sure how to explain our differences; perhaps he's scientific where i'm a little more intuitive? but our differences are a damn good thing. we do have some nice synergy between our work, like our interest in creative community building. through our many dialogues, we've pushed each other a lot and in turn, i've learned a lot from our relationship. i'm really grateful to call mike a collaborator and a friend. mike showed his work in my souvenir shop pop-up last week (it's still up so check it out this month!) and we also submitted a proposal for spring/break art fair together. i'm very excited to continue our conversations and collaborative projects moving forward.

 michael desutter // studio space // brooklyn, new york

michael desutter // studio space // brooklyn, new york

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

mike desutter: i grew up on a farm in indiana. my paternal grandfather farmed the land and i spent time around grain elevators and live stock when i was very young. my maternal grandparents lived in the nearest town, i spent a lot of time with them as well. my grandmother was very creative and always saved boxes, containers and old magazines for my siblings and i to create things out of. collectively these two things were very influential in my desire to live in a city and create things. with collage, i started out studying business management, then graphic design and ultimately i got a degree in photography. from there it was time to find work so i went where i thought there would be opportunities, new york city.

 michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: tell us more about your collages. what led you to select collage as a medium?

mike desutter: i’m always fascinated by the past and understanding how life was for those that came before us. collage has been an amazing medium for exploring another time while creating something completely new. i think collage is a natural fit for me having started out as a graphic designer. as a designer i’m tasked with creating work that visually communicates some other organization’s message in an easily comprehensible way. collage is similar in that i’m creating visual pieces which still involve an “other,” in this case it’s creating new meanings from found imagery. 

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

mike desutter: i’m not sure my work focuses on a particular subject matter. i’m most interested in the formal qualities of photographic images, i break them down and create movement from their pieces.

cultureisland: how has your collage style evolved over time? 

mike desutter: at first i was very concerned that pure abstraction wouldn’t be that relatable. i’m slowly allowing myself to work more abstractly now. i believe there are still recognizable (and therefore relatable) images in my abstractions that a viewer can relate to if that’s something that makes art more interesting to them.

 michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

mike desutter: i go through several pieces of source material and cut out clippings that have good depth or movement. from there i sit and assemble a collage seeing what points connect from one clipping to the next. when two pieces “line up” i glue them together and keep turning and adding to the piece to create visual balance. i don't glue my work to a backing paper until it’s time to frame the piece.

 michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? are there certain images or sources that tend to inspire you more than others?

mike desutter: my approach is so much about how i connect pieces so i don’t think particular sources or images play as much of a role. at this point, i think my inspiration comes mainly from the many conversations i have and the things i see when i walk around the city everyday.

 michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces?

mike desutter: i title my pieces just like i add clippings the the collage. the day i am ready to share a completed piece i pull out the new york times and look for headlines or statements that i think relate to what is happening in the completed piece. 

 michael desutter x cultureisland // could be a boon // collaborative collage // 2015

michael desutter x cultureisland // could be a boon // collaborative collage // 2015

cultureisland: you often host other collage artists over to work with you in your studio. tell us more about these collaborations. what is that experience like? how did this come about?

mike desutter: i started inviting people over to my studio mostly because i wanted to meet them and it seemed like a comfortable way to have a conversation. i didn’t necessarily set out to make it a collaboration session, that just started to happen naturally. every visit is completely unique, which is what i love about them. a lot of paper gets cut up and time flies by so quickly.

 michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage clippings

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage clippings

cultureisland: how did you get involved with the brooklyn collage collective? what is it like being involved with other artists working in the same medium? 

mike desutter: i became aware of the brooklyn collage collective through instagram in mid 2014 and then later that year the collective sent out message to local collage artists to join the collective. i joined at that time. like most new yorkers we have crazy schedules and can’t get together as much as we’d like to so we try to set up live collage sessions whenever we can. it’s always great to hang out in that capacity. through the hard work of morgan jesse-lappin and lizzie gill, i have had the opportunity to show work in a couple bcc group shows this year, including shows in denver and london. i’m very thankful for that!

cultureisland: how does your work as a graphic designer inform your work as a collage artist? and visa versa?

mike desutter: we’ve trained our brains to use auto-pilot as much as possible. we’re inundated with advertising and we’re experts at deciphering messages in a matter of seconds. of course the designers creating these pieces know how to add the right visual cues so your eye jumps to these conclusions. i think the way i connect clippings is influenced by my professional experience in making these ads. when i connect two clippings by a common visual line i believe our brain upon first view believes that that line is actually one line. it takes a second look to see that the line is being created by overlapping clippings that from a strictly representational aren’t really related at all.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

mike desutter: robert frank has been the most influential artist for me. i’ve always viewed him as an outsider who’s work wasn’t quite beautiful enough to be accepted by life or look magazines. he couldn’t even get his his seminal body of work the americans released in the united states at the time; america wasn’t ready for his raw form of expression. other major influences: robert rauschenberg, edward steichen, hannah hoch, kurt schwitters, saul leiter, laszlo moholy-nagy, and el lissitzky.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

mike desutter: i definitely operate in phases when it comes to music. i also have a tendency to listen to one album for a month straight which is always interesting because then whenever i go back to that album it’s laced with so many memories from the period i listened to it so heavily. that said, i just finished a period of listening to tame impala’s “currents” nonstop and have moved back into listening to a lot of current hip hop -- really into tracks like “white iverson” by post malone and “skrt” by kodak black, “antidote” by travi$ scott, and that general sound right now.

michael desutter // quietly seeking a reduction i + ii // collage // 2015

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

mike desutter: two documentaries come to mind, both about couples and art; herb and dorothy and cutie and the boxerherb and dorothy is about a couple of art enthusiasts who devoted their free time to collecting art. cutie and the boxer is about an artist couple and some of the underlying tension that exists when the other is in the spotlight. watch them!

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

mike desutter: i’m in the process of finding new spots since i'm moving studios from south williamsburg to bushwick. i still love freehold for my first americano of the morning and marlow and sons for my second and third. after a long day in the studio, my favorite spots to unwind and have dinner are dinner and isa, i probably go to each twice a week.

* check out more of michael's work here // instagram // plus you can shop many of these pieces now at our pop-up @ community 54 *