8 Obnoxious People to Avoid at I-Fest

Photo by festivalculturalbr via flickr

Sometimes you feel like a faux-Aussie accent, sometimes you don't. At I-Fest, we don't.

The theme for this year's International Festival is Australia, which means that although you may be tempted to throw on your best Croc Dundee costume and head on up, you still shouldn't come anywhere near us, especially while a while shirtless and sporting a leather vest.

No one needs to see that, ever.

And no one should be doing any of the things below, either. So if you are even close to fitting into one of these obnoxious categories at this year's I-Fest, please be aware that we will be doing our best to avoid you by any means necessary

8. Double Stroller Dude
Oh, double stroller dude. You have the best of intentions, we're sure, but we're where you got the idea that any of this double stroller business was kosher for a festival. Did you not, at any point, look at that enormous baby-lugger and reconsider? Probably not, since you packed up two kids in that thing -- two kids who aren't mobile, by the way -- and then dragged the entire enormous, sticky package down to a festival, where you're now trying to push your entitled way through a massive crowd of people.

We know you heart your kids, and that's great, but they're bored and you're running over someone else's kid in the interim, since you can't see over the giant vehicle you're pushing. Not to mention that thing is like a screeching, barfing wagon of awful to anyone around you who may want to just sit there and check out the music.

More »

Breaking Taboo: A.G.R.O. and the Art of Human Suspension

Photos by Angelica Leicht

As I sat against one of the graffitied walls at the Kingspoint Mullet, watching the beads of sweat creating pools under the chin of a shirtless guy straddling a chair, I had to wonder if all of the sweat dripping from his brow was due to the miserable Sunday afternoon heat. Surely part of it was fear. I mean, I was sweating for him, and I wasn't the one who was seconds away from having metal hooks shoved into the flesh of my back.

As the piercers took aim, his brow furrowed a bit more, his eyes closed and the room grew eerily silent. And then, with one swift movement, it was done. Two three-inch spots on his back now bore metal hooks, mechanisms from which he'd soon be supporting his body weight as he hung from the rafters of the Mullet. Willingly.

It was my own preconceived notions about suspension, and perhaps about the people who practice it, that led me to tag along for a meeting and performance with the A.G.R.O. "family." Even as a person with extensive tattooing, and even with what I like to think of as a relatively open mind about body art, I still couldn't wrap my head around the idea of a person hanging from the rafters by his skin. Just couldn't do it. What in the world was suspension? And really, why were folks doing it?

More »

Rest in Peace: Nekst, a Video Tribute By His Brother, Vizie

Losing a family member is one of the most painful experiences that anyone could possibly live through. Losing a best friend at the same time is downright tragic. When Houston-raised world-famous graffiti artist Nekst passed away this past December, those who knew him and his extensive body of work felt extreme heartbreak and sadness when hit with the news. Yet none of us can begin to imagine the intense sorrow that his family has endured, especially that of his brother.

Vizie paints masterfully vibrant pieces and comically illustrated characters that capture the imagination of graffiti admirers across the globe. He created his own style, altogether different from his brother's but never too distant. Both brothers are regarded as masters of their craft, kings of the graffiti art world.

Earlier this week, California-based creative lifestyle clothing company LRG released the following video tribute to Nekst, which showcases Vizie paying his respects through the medium he knows best: paint.

Rest in Peace, Nekst.

More »

Rest In Peace: Nekst, Houston's Most Successful Graffiti Artist

Photos by Marco Torres

To be successful in this crazy world, a person needs to have talent and determination. Some individuals exhibit natural talent, but are limited by their lack of drive. Others are blessed with a sense of purpose and a strong work ethic, but lack the talent that is required to achieve those goals. To have both is a gift that is reserved for only the most special examples of humanity.

And now, one of those special ones has passed on.

His name was Nekst. He was the most successful Houston artist that most outside of the graffiti world have never heard of. His style was bold. "My work has always been about scale and visibility," he once stated in an interview. For each of his pieces, his choice of structure, colors, size and location was always meticulously planned, legible and in high traffic areas.

In the graffiti world, there is a status pyramid. At the bottom you have the Toys, beginners to graffiti who have not yet earned respect nor established their art or name beyond a fundamental/amateur level. At the top, you have the Kings, who have established themselves as the best of the best through years of hard work, determination, talent and aligning themselves with other great graffiti writers.

Nekst was an All-City King. Everywhere he went, he did it big and owned the city with his graffiti. He started here in Houston. His crew here is/was DTS (Def Threats). He went on to New York City, but also hit New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and many other great cities along the way. He became part of the MSK crew (Mad Society Kings), which includes some of the best and most notorious graffiti artists in the world. He began writing his name as Next in 1996, then evolved to Nekst.

Perhaps his best and most traditionally artistic work was done during a six-month detention in a Dallas-area prison, during which he drew dozens of touching and contemplative portraits of his fellow prison inmates with simple pencil and paper.

We offer our condolences to his family and crew. May he forever rest in peace.

"At this point I just tell people I'm from America. I've lived in and painted in every region in this country. I've been writing graffiti for 18 years and have always been significant to every city I've lived in. I try to make sure that what I make is as large as possible and always legible. I feel like you aren't succeeding if you arent making civilians want to start painting. " - Nekst

More »

The Wild World Of Estate And Garage Sales In Houston

Photos By Craig Hlavaty
Local musician Ben Godfrey, who was has most notably fronted local doom-folk group Listen!Listen! for the past few years and his own solo work, has been rummaging through people's personal effects for treasures and bargains at garage and estate sales since he could remember.

"My aunt would take me when I was a kid. They were total penny pinchers, but my cousins were too embarrassed and/or bored to go. I loved it cause I liked finding odd shit, plus I was a sucker for a deal since I never had allowance."

Godfrey says he had to earn money as a kid doing odd jobs around his neighborhood to support his youthful habits. Sales like this went hand in hand. These days he prefers estate sales versus the garage and driveway ones.

"Garage sales are definitely a different world, and you're more likely to walk away with less. But it can be worth it," he says.

Recently I got the garage and estate sale bug myself all over again, spending my Saturday mornings and afternoons looking for pop-up sales to hit up. It's obviously cheaper than the antique store vice I have had the past five years, though I still find time to kill at my favorite shops.

More »

Aurora Gets into Fluxus with Artist-Designed Membership Cards

Self portrait of George Maciunas, Fluxus founder.
Aurora Picture Show is seeking several artists and crafty-minded people for help creating and spreading a grassroots art project across Houston. That project will be the making of several hundred credit card-sized micro works of art to serve as membership cards for the roughly 300 member-donors to the micro cinema. Sounds like a perfect fit, right?

Aurora curator Mary Magsamen said the idea for artist-created membership cards was inspired by the Fluxus movement of the 1960s, a network of people who shunned the commercialism of the contemporary art world. Fluxus practitioners advocated a do-it-yourself approach to art that included small and simple productions featuring a healthy dose of humor. The works were also meant to be easily consumable and easily distributed.

"The movement was all about art being for everyone," Magsamen said. "It was interdisciplinary, and it was a way to get the community involved."

More »

Getting to the Bottom of Those Red Dots Around Montrose

Courtesy photo
The very first red dot, in rural Kansas.
"Anyone know about these red dots painted around Montrose," a poster recently asked on the local music forum Hands Up Houston. "Keep seeing them, have always wondered."

The question included a link to a Google Maps street view of one Montrose-area dot. Another poster said he'd heard the artist painted the orbs while nude, a story that piqued our interest.

Art Attack has seen those red dots before, too. But for some reason they'd never really stood out in all the other weirdness that makes up the Montrose. But having never heard of the Red Dot Boys before that Hands Up post, we decided to do a little research and get to the bottom (pun intended) of the question.

More »

Dick Moves: Houston's Street Art Community Fires Back at Obnoxious Campaign Signs

Dick 2.jpg
If you've been living in Houston these last few months, unless you have a singular case of tunnel vision or are literally visually impaired, you are all too aware of the "Dick for Houston" campaign.

The former Inbred Whiteboy bassist-turned-attorney Eric Dick is running for city council at large, and his red-and-white posters are now as ubiquitous on Houston city streets and highways as nail salons and "We buy gold" emporiums.

Houston's street art community has taken note. They may not like Dick's message or aesthetic, but they damn sure have been impressed with the dude's work ethic and sheer volume. But then Dick was heard to utter some anti-street art sentiments recently, and now local artist Shreddi has decided to fire back. Let the dick-swinging begin...

Art Attack: What is it about Eric Dick that gets to you?

Shreddi: I don't think a lot of people have picked up on the fact that politicians use graffiti tactics for their personal gain. Each election year, without fail, we get this illegal political signage jammed all over empty lots, chain-link fences, telephone poles, etc. The problem is, once elected, these politicians persecute the general public for doing the same fucking thing...It's a double standard. It's funny too, because when I pulled down one of these signs, there was another political sign underneath it. So they're even covering each other's tags. I read last year the city spent a million dollars on graffiti cleanup. Politicians could probably cut that number in half if they'd stop posting their mind-numbing graffiti everywhere. Obviously I have no problem with self-promotion, or art in the streets. I have a problem with politicians holding the public to standards they don't abide to themselves. And I don't have anything specifically against Dick....his ballsy sign campaign just stood out.

More »

Street Scenes #2: The Time Is Now 2:12

In the second of our series on Houston's street artists, Art Attack features 2:12, whose singularly colorful, fiendishly-cleverly placed works abound in the older, more run-down fringes of the Houston Heights.

While recent trends in his work -- an altar to the Virgin Mary and "Lupe," a demure yet sexy Latina classic era leading lady -- would suggest that he, like so many of Houston's top street creators, was from a Hispanic background, he writes in via email to tell us that's not the case.

"Sorry to disappoint but I'm not. I work with a very international group at my job and I'm exposed to all of these different cultures on a daily basis. I think that's where I get a lot of my inspiration from. The Virgin Mary/Lupe thing is just a coincidence."

And he answered seven more of Art Attack's questions...

Art Attack: Where does your name come from?

2:12: The thought of coming up with a "street name" seemed a bit ridiculous to me at first, I knew I couldn't use my real name because of the whole legal thing and I was leaning towards the anonymous route, no name, no signature but in the end I figured I was putting a lot of time, money and effort into creating the pieces and that it wouldn't be a bad thing to get credit for my work. I came up with 2:12 because I like the fact that the meaning isn't obvious, it's a bit cryptic. Is it a time? I get this question often and while I have never given away the true meaning, I will say the same thing I say to everyone. 2:12 is a very important time in my life. :-/

More »

Street Scenes: Coolidge, Houston's Answer To Banksy

penguins walking.jpg
Since hopping astride a bicycle a couple of years ago, my perception of Houston's physical landscape has altered utterly. No longer are my eyes subject to rivers of tail-lights and ceaseless processions of giant freeway billboards. Instead, I'm watching for cracked pavement and feasting my eyes on street art. People like street stencil artist Coolidge, or Lidge for short, have become my new billboards.

Coolidge's specialty is whimsical spray-paintings of mostly cuddly animals: Boston terriers, My Little Pony characters, T. Rexes, sea turtles, robots, parachuting pink piggies, sanctified bunny rabbits with halos around their heads, Ralphie from A Christmas Story in his bunny suit. You tend to find these in blighted areas of the Inner Loop - on concrete pillars and the walls of crumbling warehouses - and they invariably bring cheer to otherwise dismal cityscapes and a smile to your heart.

More »