Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose at Virginia MOCA

Hi-Fructose Kazuki-_Takamatsu  A major announcement was released late last year about our own Virginia MOCA. The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art is teaming up with Hi-Fructose magazine for a major exhibition in 2016. If you’re not familiar with Hi-Fructose, it’s a best selling quarterly art magazine from San Francisco, which showcases New Contemporary artists and emerging artists from around the world. Most of the major bookstores like Barnes & Nobles and other outlets carries the magazine. Hi-Fructose has been covering the New Contemporary Art scene for ten years now and to celebrate ten years of their coverage, MOCA is hosting a retrospective exhibit. Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose. This exhibit will feature 50 artists who have appeared in Hi-Fructose’s magazine and on their website. The retrospective is scheduled to grace the walls of MOCA from May 22, 2016 through December 31, 2016.Hi-Fructose Audrey-Kawasaki

MOCA has also announced that in conjunction with the retrospective, “ a wide selection of educational programming, film screenings, panel discussions, and events will provide the public an opportunity to interact with the art and artists in exciting new ways.” This exhibit sounds like it’s going to be the most interactive exhibit that I’ve seen at MOCA.

Hi-Fructose Dan-Quintana-02

I’m really excited about this retrospective. I’ve actually been following Hi-Fructose since the magazine’s debut. The magazine has introduced me to some amazing artists and has featured a lot of artists that I follow on-line. Hi-Fructose is a great magazine because it’s not influenced by gallery trends. Their goal is to feature great art that’s unique and different. The magazine also accepts submissions from artists, so it’s possible for undiscovered talent to be featured next to internationally renowned artists.

Hi-Fructose Erik-Jones-Dipped-Queen-urban-art

I prefer not to label art, but the New Contemporary art scene seems like an inevitable rebellion against Modern and early Contemporary art. The New Contemporary art scene is impressive and diverse, embracing a lot of new subject matter with traditional and non-traditional mediums. There are no set limits on creativity and high-end art collectors are recognizing the talent that it’s producing. These artists aren’t bound by rules. They’re just creating. The internet has definitely alter the dynamics of the art world. Exposing artists to new ideas and concepts. We live in a world where artists can be discovered by the average individual first and become “internet famous” before their first gallery show. Hi-Fructose has recognized the new trends in the art world and has fueled this movement for the last ten years. I believe we’re in for a treat when the retrospective comes to MOCA.Hi-Fructose James-Jean

So much talent has been featured in Hi-Fructose and I’m looking forward to seeing which artists will be a part of this retrospective. Some of my favorite graphic artists that Hi-Fructose has covered includes João Ruas, Erik Jones, James Jean, Dan Quintana, Audrey Kawasaki, and Kazuki Takamatsu. Even talented sculptors like Bruno Walpoth have been covered by Hi-Fructose. I’m hoping that some of these artists will be among the 50 artists who will represent the magazine.Hi-Fructose Joao-Ruas-2

This retrospective is a big deal for this area and MOCA. The New Contemporary art scene is thriving in galleries on the West Coast and around the world. Hi-Fructose could have easily chosen other venues to partner with. I’m applauding MOCA for making this happen and I’m looking forward to hearing more about the events that will accompany this exhibit.

More information about the retrospective will be released soon. Until then, you should follow Virginia MOCA and Hi-Fructose.



Devon Lawrence Author

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Inside the Norfolk Drawing Group

Inside The Norfolk Drawing Group

If you’re a local artist or an individual who’s just interested in drawing, the Norfolk Drawing Group is a great resource to utilize.The Norfolk Drawing Group or NDG is a group for adults that solely focuses on the human anatomy by working with live nude models. One’s art can drastically improve through drawing the figure from life on a daily basis.

Mastering the art of life drawing was a prerequisite for classical painters. A rigorous course of study, which helped create some of the greatest artists in art history. However, the NDG is a relaxed setting for private study of the human anatomy. There aren’t any teachers present, except for the teachers who continue to practice their craft. The average artist will never stop learning and growing.

The NDG currently meets every Tuesday evening at Alchemy NFK, in the heart of the newly designated Downtown Arts & Design District. Sessions cost $7.00 or $20.00 for four consecutive sessions. $3.00 for students with proper id.

The first Tuesday of each month is Painting night. This extended session meets at 7pm-10pm. A room full of French easels commonly crowds the room for one 3hr pose. The model will take a break several times during the session and return to the original pose until the session ends. Painting night is the most popular session at NDG, but the night is not just for painters. Other artists  choose to draw the model for 3hrs. Sculptors also enjoy the 3hr poses and have made appearances at the group as well.

The remaining Tuesday sessions of the month meet at 7pm-9:30pm. These drawing sessions usually start off with short warm-up poses. 1-5 minute poses. The model rotates and changes their position for each pose. Warm-up poses allow an artist to loosen up before the longer poses. You don’t have time to work on the details, so the form is established with quick strokes by most artists. The longer poses are 20-40 minute poses. Giving an artist time to mass out the form and even add details to their work.

A typical session consists of music and some possible banter during poses. If you’re an uptight individual, this group may not be for you. This group is very social and friendly, which makes it a great atmosphere for artists of all skill levels. The relaxed setting allows beginning artists to feel comfortable with the more skilled artists in the room. In this environment, it’s still possible to learn without any instruction. A diverse group of artists are present and an individual can witness many techniques at work. Some artists from the group are even willing to offer feedback to other artists or discuss their techniques.

In the last couple of years, the NDG has hosted community programs at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach and d’Art Center in Norfolk. Organizing family friendly model sessions. As of 2014, the NDG also started hosting workshops for local artists. An individual can learn from talented instructors in a small class setting. The first two workshops focused on painting the figure with oils. The success of these workshops could lead to more classes in the future.

The NDG has grown a lot since the group was first established over 15 years ago. The NDG has been run by different individuals over the years and many artists have come and gone. Stories of small sessions are still discussed  by older members of the group. Today’s average attendance for each session is about 20-25 artists on a regular night. The average attendance for a Painting night is about 30 artists.

The popularity and growth of the group seemed to surge during the Summer of 2006. A core group of individuals have run and maintained the group since then. I’ve personally been able to watch the group grow and I’ve participated in managing the group as well. By embracing social media and documenting each session, the attendance improved drastically. The NDG established a MySpace account and eventually transitioned to Facebook for daily group updates. A Flickr account was created so photos of each session could be viewed on-line. Flickr is a photo hosting website and over 24,000 photos from the group are currently on the site. After each pose, the work at the session is photographed and uploaded to Flickr later. The daily stats from the Flickr account are amazing. Thousands of people continue to view the photos every day. The NDG may be located in a small city, but is recognized by a large audience of artists and art lovers from around the world. The current record views on Flickr is over 11,000 views in one day.

If you would like to learn more about the group, I would highly recommend that you follow the NDG on Facebook.


The Facebook page is updated daily with photos, model schedules, possible cancellations/venue changes and workshop news. The “About” section explains everything that you need to know about the group and how to access all the photos on Flickr. Unfortunately, the photos on Flickr are moderated, so the “About” section provides directions on how you can view everything. If you’re not logged in and your viewing settings aren’t adjusted correctly, you’ll only see a few photos each week. Basic Flickr accounts are free though.

The Norfolk Drawing Group is a great source for artistic growth and I recommend the group to artists of any skill level. My own work has improved since I joined the group in 2006, and I’ve been able to explore many styles and techniques over the years. I’ve also watched the work of beginning artists drastically improve, just by attending the group on a regular basis. The NDG continues to house a lot of talented individuals and I’ve learned a lot from theses artists and established some long-lasting friendships. Surrounded by award winning artists, it’s hard not to feel inspired and you’ll want to push yourself. You’ll want to improve your work. If you want to connect and network with artists in the area, this is the group to join.

Devon Lawrence

Devon Photo

Permanent link to this article: http://artscenehamptonroads.com/?p=897

The Alchemy of Art: David Mack

Movie Review Photo David Mack










The Alchemy of Art: David Mack is a 2007 documentary featuring in-depth interviews with artist and writer David Mack. Directed and edited by Greg Juris. (1 hr 11 min).

David Mack is an awarding winning comic book artist, best known for his creator owned comic book Kabuki and his work on Marvel’s Daredevil series. Mack has also stepped into the realm of children’s books. I have always consider Mack to be more of an artist than a comic book artist. You can’t label his work. He’s a master of many art forms and his writing is complex.

Mack’s Kabuki introduces readers to a not too distant futuristic Japan. A Big Brother society where there’s a thin line between crime and politics. Society is saturated by pop-culture and secret organizations are the puppet masters. Kabuki is a figurehead for the government’s propaganda machine, but secretly, she’s a part of an assassin group for The Noh.  An organization with it’s own agenda. The story line revolves around her dealing with the repercussions of the past and how she navigates through her own trauma. A masked individual who has physical and mental flaws.

Despite the storyline, most of the Kabuki series is very philosophical, exploring themes like transformation and identity. Mack’s art reflects the complexity of the story and this film explores his own life which influenced Kabuki.

“I hate to make a comparison, but really he’s the closest thing comics has to Picasso in that he’s prolific, he paints from the heart, and his paintings are very passionate, very distinctive. When you see a David Mack, you know it’s a David Mack right off the bat.” – Terry Moore (comic book artist/writer).

The stereotypical comic book rules don’t always exist in Kabuki. Mack pushes the limits of the sequential art form. Most of his pages from Kabuki are a collage of images, incorporating various mediums. Type and art can interact and become one. It’s a familiar site to see images metamorphosing into other images and his style to suddenly change into another style to help progress a plot. Hand-lettered words are commonly sprawled around images, giving images a distinct feel or meaning. If you’re unfamiliar with Mack’s art, this film will expose you to a large body of his work.

The Alchemy of Art is like a one on one conversation with Mack. You’ll learn how Mack became the artist that he is today and who inspired him. The film starts off with discussions about his childhood and how his Mother supported his creativity from an early age. Mack’s Mother was a 1st grade teacher who played a prominent role in his life, influencing his work on Kabuki. His fascination with comic book writers is also discussed and you’ll understand why he enjoys creating art and writing. The majority of film focuses on his creative process for Kabuki, side projects, and Daredevil. Art appears on the screen or Mack is holding his work during the conversation, providing the viewer with a lot of eye candy. His Brother, friends, and fans also share their own thoughts and insights throughout the film about Mack and his art.

The dvd gives you the option to watch the whole film or select certain chapters to view. The chapter options are a good way to revisit sections of the film that stand out to the viewer. The extras add more value to the film. There are three extras on the dvd. The Shy Creatures, Kabuki Commentary, and Visionaries & Voices.

The Shy Creatures segment (5 min) is named after Mack’s children’s book, which was published in 2007. The art is obviously influenced by Dr. Suess. A homage to one of the greatest creators of children’s books. Mack shows off the original black and white pages from the book, while he reads the story to the viewer.

The Kabuki Commentary (26 min) is an in-depth conversation about issue #4 from the Kabuki: The Alchemy series. The trade paperback that collected all nine issues of The Alchemy  was on the New York Times Best-Seller list in 2009. The commentary is an in-depth look at each page of one single issue. This extra is definitely the best one. The pages are stationary on a black background, and Mack discusses his thoughts about each page. I would have loved to have seen close-ups of the pages during the commentary. I would highly suggest that the viewer purchase a copy of the issue and follow the commentary with the printed comic. It’s a good interactive experience when you’re viewing this extra.

Visionaries & Voices is an art studio for people with disabilities in Cincinnati, OH. Mack works with this studio and discusses the benefits of allowing disabled individuals to become artists. This brief extra (3 min) provides an inside look into the studio, featuring interviews with the staff.
Overall, this is a great film for any David Mack fans and individuals who are interested in comics. Art lovers in general can appreciate it as well. Unfortunately, you can’t see the complexity of the art. Proper close-ups aren’t used enough in my opinion and the printed material is definitely the best way to view the art. I was also hoping that footage of Mack at work was present. Watching him paint a cover or page of Kabuki would have been a great extra. I’m definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants to get into the mind of a creative individual though.

To really appreciate Mack’s art, you should purchase Kabuki Reflections. It’s a prized possession in my collection.

“Collecting: the first five art books of Marvel’s REFLECTIONS series from multiple Eisner Award-nominated creator David Mack, this gorgeous volume includes cover paintings and step-by-step art techniques that show off Mack’s wok to full effect. This volume delivers with loads of extras–including never-before-seen art, new paintings, a cover gallery, figure studies, step-by-step art techniques and commentary, remastered pages, new design pages, a “Best of Letters” section and more!” – Barnes & Noble

To experience the world of Kabuki, The Kabuki: Metamorphosis graphic novel is a good jump on point. Mack has mastered the art of making his series accessible to new readers without making the reader purchase every graphic novel from the series. Of course I would recommend the whole series though.

The Alchemy of Art: David Mack can be purchased at http://www.herovideostore.com/alchemy.htm

Devon Lawrence

Devon Photo

Permanent link to this article: http://artscenehamptonroads.com/?p=866

David Choe Documentary


Most of the world first heard about David Choe when it was revealed that the artist made an estimated $200 million from his stock in Facebook. During the early days of Facebook, Sean Parker hired the artist to paint the first Facebook headquarters. Parker offered to pay Choe either $60,000 or with Facebook stock. Choe chose the stock, even though he could’ve used the money at the time.

Many people still don’t know that Choe was a successful artist before his Facebook stock was worth anything. Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe follows Choe from 2000 to 2007. From his early days as a street artist, to his show in London that would sell $2.5 million dollars of his art.

“I make my art for people who don’t give a fuck about art…”

Choe is a Los Angeles graffiti artist who never expected to make money from his work. He’s the artist who would Xerox art at Kinkos late at night, and then wheat paste his work across the city. His murals are usually unplanned masses of paint and spray paint that eventually come together to form surreal imagery.

This is not a typical art documentary. The film actually opens with Choe in front of dancing nude women in the Congo. During a sponsored expedition to find the last dinosaur.

Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe is a very personal experience produced by Choe’s close friend, Harry Kim. Kim didn’t know how this film would end, but he obviously recognized that Choe was talented and that he would be successful one day. It’s a wild adventure following an artist who lives by his own rules. An architect of his own life who’s paid to be himself.

“I have basically no responsibilities. I’m a man boy.”

Kim combines interviews with Choe and personal footage so the viewer is a part of Choe’s world. The film follows Choe’s most serious romantic relationship and introduces you to his Christian Korean family.

Kim also interviewed other individuals who have crossed paths with the artist. The most recognizable names are Shepard Fairy and Choe’s mentor, Barren Storey. Fairy is commonly known for his Obama “HOPE” poster. Storey is an accomplished illustrator and art teacher. His cover art for the 1980 edition of the Lord of the Flies novel is most likely his most recognizable piece of work.

We’re able to follow the rise of an artist with this film. Choe discusses how he got his first breaks and there is actual footage of the shows and events to accompany his stories. Animated sequences also help fill in gaps throughout the film.

Throughout the film Choe demonstrates techniques that he uses to create art. Blood is a medium that you usually don’t see other artists using, but Choe wets his brush with his own blood to create faces and other imagery. The best footage of his process is for his mural work though. One mural materializes in front of the viewer from start to finish. Created without any preliminary sketching on the wall, most people have to appreciate what he can do with a large blank wall.

There is even footage of Choe working on the art for Facebook and Parker’s first impressions of the art. It’s an unexpected glimpse into a company that changed the world.

One of the most memorable moments in the film is the footage about Choe’s three month experience in a Japanese prison. A period where he tried to embrace Christianity, but he was drawing in his opinion the most sickest and demented images that he ever created. His prison diaries reveal to the viewer an illustrated daily food diary among a lot of sexual perverse imagery. This period in his life would change him forever and unexpectedly fuel a vast amount of opportunities.

For a film that was shot over a seven year period without a real film crew, I’m impressed by the finished product. You can’t expect this film to be like a PBS documentary or most documentaries with a budget. My biggest complaint is that the footage with Choe’s parents aren’t sub-titled. Choe’s Father is interviewed briefly and he chose to speak Korean throughout the interview. There are other moments where you catch the family speaking Korean as well; the viewer must actually have to turn-on the subtitles for these scenes to be translated. This is a production mistake that isn’t acceptable. I would suggest to anyone who’s interested in the film to purchase a physical copy and turn on the sub-titles. The sub-titles don’t take anything away from the film.

Viewing the film was a unique experience for me. I’ve been following Choe’s work since his first spot illustrations for Giant Robot magazine. Right before his prison experience. I continue to follow his work currently and to listen to his podcasts. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who isn’t close-minded. Nudity and some obscene art are present and Choe is not your typical artist. I usually force all my art friends to watch the film at least once. Choe is one of the few artists who doesn’t have to answer to anyone. He creates whatever he wants and he has profited from his work. Even if you don’t like his work, you have to admire the fact that he can basically do whatever he wants. Most artists and creative individuals dream of such situations.

Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe was originally released by Upper Playground. You can purchase the film from iTunes and Amazon for instant viewing. The actual dvd can now be purchased from http://dirtyhandsmovie.com/.

Devon Lawrence

Devon Photo

Permanent link to this article: http://artscenehamptonroads.com/?p=845

Interview with Ed Obermeyer

Hi Ed,

Thank you for sitting down with Art Scene Hampton Roads. First I would like to wish you well in retirement. Can we really call it that though? It seems I see you pretty busy all around town.

This is not retirement! I was working full time as an art teacher for VBCPS and full time as an artist/painter. I Loved them both so very much but the art shows just took off beyond my expectations and so I had to make a choice. As much as I loved teaching, especially at Ocean Lakes High School, I had to choose. After 34 years of teaching and an offer to retire now with a great retirement plan I started back in 1978, I was ready to end my teaching career on a high note and launch my new professional life as a painter. The choice so far has been more rewarding professionally and financially, than I expected.

Art Scene HR has been around about a year now but my interest in the local art scene took hold more than 10 years ago. What type of paintings were you doing in the late 90′s and early 2000′s?

My style changed dramatically from the 1990’s to the 2000’s! I went from a very realistic, somewhat cubist fragmented approach to realistic images of butterflies, poison frogs, and birds in tropical habitats to new kind of stye that totally reflects my own personal voice as an artist. I call it Post Aboriginal Modernism. It is influenced by my personal observations of nature in a variety of environments, but is also based on Australian Aboriginal dot painting, crosshatching, and storytelling, combined with brush techniques I use on motorcycles, helmets, and cars with pinstripe brushes and script liner brushes. I finally feel that I have achieved that “personal voice” in art making that we all search our entire lives for. This style of painting brings me a great deal of peace and harmony.

My relationship with Alfredo Arreguin in Seattle, Washington has helped me grow tremendously as well. Him and I are true “Pattern Painters”. We try to reveal and conceal things in the patterns in our works of art. His input and inspiration have been essential to my growth and development as a professional artist.

Traveling to new places is always an exciting visual feast. Where have you been the last couple of years and what influenced your new work?

Sailing the Grennadine Islands and going to Australia for three weeks certainly changed everything in my new style of Post Aboriginal Modernism. My wife and I saw so many amazing things in both places that became the sources of inspiration for all of my work today. I loved visiting all the different aboriginal artists in Australia and discussing their techniques for symbolism, mark making, and story telling. Alice Springs in central Australia changed everything. It was there that I got to jam on stage with a didgeridoo rock star, and discuss art making with true Aborigines. What a life changing time that was!

The last couple of years I have been doing art shows most every weekend. Contrary to what my fellow artists said to do, I get involved in so many different types of shows, small and large. Some are juried, some are not, however, it is important for me to get the exposure. In some of these shows, I have sold very little, however, about a week later, someone I met at a show may have a gallery and make me an offer to show there, or someone will call and want one of my originals or prints a week later. The biggest part of being successful in this business, and it is a business, is networking. It takes on many forms. It can include web interactions, small and large juried and non juried art shows, public speaking, or just plain old fashioned social events, but they are all important.

Ed, what is your event schedule for the summer. There may be some of our readers who haven’t yet had the opportunity to see your unique work.

July 1-30 Slantwall Gallery in Glen Allen, VA
August 9′ Old Coast Guard Station Virginia Beach Surfing Centennial, 24th st., 4pm-11pm
Saturday, August 25, 10am-5pm, Hunt Club Farm Art Show 10am-5pm
Sept. 28-30, Neptune show on boardwalk, 10am-5pm each day
Sat., oct. 6-Ocean Park volunteer rescue squad art show on shore drive, 10am-4pm thru Sunday
Speaking engagement-Ches. Bay Art Assoc., Tues., Oct. 16
Oct. 20-21-Stockley Gardens, Norfolk

Permanent link to this article: http://artscenehamptonroads.com/?p=734

MOCA-Warhol Portraits

Andy Warhol: Portraits

May 26-August 19, 2012

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents Andy Warhol: Portraits, featuring original works from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. This notoriously private artist is revealed in the company he keeps. Including screenprints, drawings, paintings, Polaroids, and vintage family photos this exhibition explores the phenomenon that is Warhol’s work on a deeply personal level.

Andy Warhol: Portraits includes more than 130 portraits produced by Warhol from the 1940s to the 1980s. This exhibition contains portraits of Warhol in his youth, a reproduction of Warhol’s first celebrity autograph (from Shirley Temple in 1941), early portrait drawings from the 1940s, samples of Warhol’s commercial work from the 1950s, movie star portraits from the 1960s, and more than 100 portrait paintings from the 1970s and 1980s. The most comprehensive exhibition of portraiture by Warhol, this show debuted at the Warhol Museum in Spring 2010 and is exhibiting at MOCA for the first time in the US since then.

Andy Warhol: Portraits. This exhibition has been organized by The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

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