‘Precursor’ art exhibit highlights Memphis painter’s fear of world chaos

19 04 2011

Brandon "DJ Racecar" Parker provided live music for the "Precursor" art exhibit at Empire Hair Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

For more photos, CLICK HERE

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nuclear mushroom clouds, sex slaves, Muslims, bright colors and World War III. These are all things you will see in Memphis College of Art senior Jason Rodriguez’s latest paintings.

His most recent exhibit, “Precursor,” opened at Empire Hair Studio at 615 S. Cooper St. March 4 and ran for two weeks. An opening ceremony featured live music from Brandon “DJ Racecar” Parker, who is also a student at MCA.

The exhibit, Rodriguez says highlights current happenings in the world like sexual slavery, nuclear war and recent violence in the Middle East, which he believes will eventually lead to a third World War.

“A lot of times the media tends to portray only the pretty things that happen in the world and we seem to be distracted from some of the scary things. In this exhibit I use bright, pretty colors to sort of distract the viewer from the bad images in the paintings.”

Rodriguez’s favorite painting, a collage titled, “At the End,” which sold for $2,000 at the exhibit shows a crowd of praying Muslims bowing down before a huge nuclear explosion in the background. The foreground of the painting shows brightly colored box-shaped houses that capture they eye.

“I tried using elements from art history like the Last Supper (columns) to draw the eye into the bomb. And I used the houses as a symbol of the war zone hitting home, coming here to the Americas. I’m using these colors to distract you from what is really going on in the back.”

The media, he believes, does not always show people everything we need to see and sometimes “tries to make the world seem like a prettier place than it really is.”

Rodriguez described his exhibit as a fear of world chaos.

His Website describes his philosophy this way: “The military takes prestige in controlling technology with mass destructive capabilities, which heightens my fear of world chaos further developing. We are desensitized to topics surrounding war, trafficking and brutality in today’s mass media. Focus is then placed on beauty and color stimulation through digital media. These are paradigms of information that censor the destruction surrounding humanity by the overload of substance in our media.”

He said the inspirations for his latest works came from watching the news and talking to friends about current issues going on in the world.

“I have a friend from Jordan that tells me stories about how women are treated in the Middle East, and that led me to do a few paintings on sexual slavery and the harsh treatment of women in other countries. I have another friend from Egypt and he’s telling me about the riots that are going on over there and how his family is struggling. Things like that are basically what trigger my ideas.”

At the opening of the exhibit, Rodriguez spoke to viewers over wine and cheese while electronic “dubstep” music blared from the turntables manned by Parker. A crowd of about 100 filtered in and out of the exhibit hall throughout the night.

Rodriguez says he decided to incorporate a live disc jockey into the exhibit to create more of a sensory experience than just simply looking at pictures on a wall.

Parker, who studies at MCA and DJs around the city in his free time, mixed tracks together throughout the opening exhibit, filling the room with wobbly bass lines and loud synthesizer sounds.

“After looking at his paintings I told Jason that I could match up some music to his work and it would make his exhibit even better,” Parker says. The themes are dark and there are explosions and bright colors, and that is sort of the same sound experience you get from dubstep.”

One of the tracks Parker played called, “Dropping Bombs” used electronic bass to mimic the sound of explosions and missiles flying through the air.

“Most art exhibits are quiet like a library and people just walk around and look at the work,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to create more of like a sensory experience than just looking at pictures on a wall.”





“Precursor” art exhibit highlights Memphis painter’s fear of world chaos

24 03 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nuclear mushroom clouds, sex slaves, Muslims, bright colors and World War III. These are all things you will see in Jason Rodriguez’s latest paintings.

His most recent exhibit, “Precursor,” opened at Empire Hair Studio at 615 S. Cooper St. March 4 and ran for two weeks.

The exhibit, Rodriguez says highlights current happenings in the world like sexual slavery, nuclear war and recent violence in the Middle East that he believes will eventually lead to a third World War.

“A lot of times the media tends to portray only the pretty things that happen in the world and we seem to be distracted from some of the scary things. In this exhibit I use bright, pretty colors to sort of distract the viewer from the bad images in the paintings.”

The following is a Question and Answer interview with Rodriguez.

Q:  Tell me again what the overall theme and message of the exhibit is?

A: It’s basically a fear of “World War III” hitting home and how the media kind of doesn’t show us what we need to see. They show us things that will make us happy. They will show us things going on in our area, but not what’s going on on the other side of the world, and it affects us. What’s going on in the Middle East is affecting our gas prices and our economy, which is lowering and lowering every day. That’s basically what the show is about. The use of the flashy colors are pretty much to distract your eye the way the media does.

Q: Where do you get most of your inspiration?

A: I draw it from people I interact with and experiences that they’ve gone through with the economy and crime and stuff like that. I just think about everything that’s going on across the world. I have a friend from Jordan and she tells me stories about how women are treated in the Middle East. I have another friend from Egypt and he’s telling me about the riots that are going on and how his family is struggling over there right now. Things like that are basically where I draw my inspiration from.

Q: Tell us about your favorite painting in the exhibit.

A: (Pointing to different parts of the painting) It’s a one part to a two part piece. I tried using elements from art history like the Last Supper [columns] to draw the eye into this bomb. And I used the houses as a symbol of the war zone hitting home, coming here to the Americas. I’m using these colors to distract you from what is really going on in the back.

Q: What was your purpose in having a live DJ at the exhibit?

A: I talked to Brandon and he looked at my art and said he could match up music to the artwork. And I figured that, with these flashy colors and Brandon playing the music, I could form more of a sensory experience than just looking at pictures on the wall.

Q: What would you expect a viewer off the street to experience from your exhibit?

A: The first thing that probably someone would think of is like “Oh! Look at all the pretty colors!” And listening to the music, they would be like “What is that?” But I think after they look at each piece and they go around and see how they kind of flow with each other, they get the message.

Q: What are you doing next? Any future plans?

A: Actually I’m going to put together two more shows in the summer and they will be at Adam Shaw’s “Gallery 56,” hopefully. They are reviewing my artwork right now. After Memphis, I’m planning on going to New Orleans to study for my Master’s degree at Tulane.





Mardi Gras MasqueRave at Newby’s March 5

2 03 2011

Still haven’t made plans for Mardi Gras? Want to kick off Spring Break 2011 with a party? Here’s one way to throw down.

Zoogma, an electronic jam-band based out of Oxford, Miss. will play a show this Saturday, March 5 at Newby’s Theater in Memphis, Tenn.

Opening acts include White Noise, a disc jockey from Hunstville, Ala. and The Werks, a rock, funk and trance band.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Must be 18+ to get in.

See you there!

White Noise, a.k.a. Grant Willis, known for his high-energy shows, performed at Newby's Theater with DJ Ikis in November 2010.





“Straitjacket Girl” amazes students at University of Memphis

31 01 2011

Felice Ling, an amateur magician, blew a few minds at the University of Memphis Monday when she performed a few tricks including this one in which she removes a fully buckled straitjacket. In what she called her “first attempt at this new trick,” Ling had a member of the audience secure the device, then dislocated her shoulder to free herself from the restraint. Just one more reason why I love living the city of Memphis and going to this school. Never a dull day.

To contact Felice Ling for booking, email her at feliceling@gmail.com





Small crowd, no problem

29 01 2011

Despite low turnout, dedicated “ravers” party until 2.a.m. at Newby’s

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Despite a relatively small crowd at Newby’s Theatre Thursday, late night partiers danced into the early morning hours as Kevin “Spankalicious” Moore, a producer and disc jockey from St. Louis brought his “psychedelic bounce” music to Memphis.

Opening for Spankalicious were locals Kenny “DJ Ikis” Hopper and “Rainbow Gooey” who got the home crowd going with a mix of dubstep.

Kenny

Hopper called his set a “trancy, girl-singing, make you want to cry mix of dubstep, thugstep, and filth.”

“Some of the most fun times have been when we threw a party and hardly anyone showed up,” Hopper said. “Sometimes its fun when it’s just friends and family.”

Moore, who drove to Memphis from Denver said he’s happy to play for any crowd, no matter the number of people.

“Even if there are only four or five new faces out there, just to introduce somebody to something new and different, to turn them on to something they have never heard before, that’s satisfaction enough for me,” Moore said.

After the show, Spankalicious posted on his Facebook page, “Memphis, THANK YOU SO MUCH! That was def in my personal top 3 performances ever! The energy in the room tonight was AMAZING!”

When they left after playing at Newby’s Thursday, Moore and his crew headed to New Orleans for a weekend show. From there they will catch a plane to perform in Chicago.

Memphis does not have an electronic music scene as strong as other major cities in the South, but Hopper is determined to get the “raver” scene back to where it once was.

He helps promote a monthly mash-up of local DJs at The Full Moon Club, and travels regularly to play shows out of town.

“Memphis used to be a Mecca for the rave scene,” Hopper recalled. “But there were a lot of people in it for the wrong reasons and it didn’t survive. My main goal is to get the scene back to the way it was 10 or 15 years ago.”

He cited a bad wrap from local law enforcement as a reason for the scene’s decline in popularity.

Drugs, he said, are what “kill” a scene. Once police began busting clubs and bars that were playing electronic music the once popular “rave” scene died off.

Recently though, with a rise in the popularity of “Dubstep,” a genre marked by wobble bass and dark rhythms, some young residents in Memphis have flocked to the scene, known for its dance parties that sometimes continue through early morning hours.

“It’s not about taking drugs or anything like that,” Hopper insisted. “A rave is a lot more than that. It’s about stepping into a different world and having fun and play. And for the DJs it’s about sharing music and learning new things from each other.”

Because the demand for “rave” music is back up in southern cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Tenn. and Asheville, N.C., many believe that the scene will gain followers and go back to its old ways.

“We have a good start here, but it doesn’t really compare with the parties I’ve been to in places like Nashville, St. Louis and Atlanta. That’s where you need to go to see a real rave.”

In an attempt to expand his music collection, Hopper has lately gotten into producing his own tracks and says fans can expect a new mix on his Soundcloud.com page in about a month or two.

“I just recently got Ableton, so I’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to use that program. Since I learned the basics, I have been glued to my computer trying to make some new stuff. The possibilities are endless.”





Madison Hardy: Southern belle with a lot of soul

27 01 2011
Mississippi native releases debut EP
Madison Hardy

 

If you like country music at all, you need to check this girl out. Meet Madison Hardy. Raised in Mississippi, living in Nashville. And when you hear her sing, you will understand what “southern soul” really means.

Get the music here

Click here to visit Madison Hardy on Facebook and Myspace





Psychedelic Bounce on Thursday, Bluesy-rock on Saturday

26 01 2011
Spankalicious w/ Djikis and Rainbow Gooey @ Newbys, Thursday, Jan. 27
Kenny “Djikis” Hopper performing at Newby’s Theater. Hopper will be performing with Spankalicious Thursday night

 

 South Highland Street will be bouncing and wobbling Thursday night as Kevin Moore (aka: Spankalicious), of St. Louis, Mo. brings his “psychedelic bounce” to Newbys Theater.

Making appearances at festivals like Wakarusa’s Interstellar Meltdown, Underground Sound 6, Immix Fest, Tall Tree Lake Fest, and Schwagstock 45, “Spankalicious” is an electronic music disc jockey and mix artist that has performed alongside other well-known acts like VibesquaD, Big Gigantic, Boombox and Bassnectar.

He served as the host of the Wakarusa DJ Classic in Columbia and St. Louis and was voted “Best DJ in St. Louis” in June 2010 by the River Front Times annual readers poll.

Opening acts include Memphis’ own Kenny “Djikis” Hopper and Rainbow Gooey.

Hopper who started as a junglist, will be entertaining the home crowd by playing the “sickest, darkest Drum and Bass,” along with plenty bass driven Dubstep.

The show will mark Moore’s first performance in Memphis. Show starts at 10 p.m.

Listen here:

Spankalicious free download! Wakarusa set+Bassnectar\’s First Base Center set

Spankalicious Tour Poster

 

Memphis Rock & Roll at Minglewood Hall Saturday

                                               

If electronic music is not your thing, Memphis rock band The Sheriffs of Nottingham will be performing at 1884 Lounge, located within Minglewood Hall this Saturday at 9 p.m.

The Sheriffs of Nottingham, first formed in 2008, are Justin Jamerson (vocals, rhythm guitar), Kevin Lipe (lead guitar), Curry Smith (bass, vocals) and Kyle Fagala (drums).

According to the band’s Facebook page, “their music is born on the ragged frontier of rock, blues, and soul. They’re too loud. They believe in energy and emotion over technique. When they play a show, they want everyone in the building to have as good of a time as they do.”

The Heavy Eyes, another local band specializing in “psychedelic bluesy rock from the Delta” will be the opener.

The Heavy Eyes are Tripp Shumake (vocals, guitar), Wally Anderson (bass), and Eric Garcia (drums).








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