Tag Archives: Art Gallery

Art Gallery: Robert Beatty‘s Psychedelic, Retro-Futuristic Aesthetic


Detail from Tame Impala “Cause I’m A Man” single artwork

Mystique is key to the allure of Robert Beatty’s psychedelic, retro-futuristic artwork and design. His images are untethered in time, synthesizing elements of Surrealism, midcentury experimental animation, 1960s Op Art, underground comix, and the airbrush illustration of the 1970s-1980s. Undulating forms, looping typography, glowing geometric patterns, hazy amorphous spaces, melting objects, diagrams, inscrutable pixelated glyphs, alien landscapes, and glossy advertising imagery comprise strange tableaux, at once familiar and otherworldly—evincing, as Beatty puts it, “a weird sense of wonder.”

“A lot of it is trying to capture when I was a kid, seeing animation or comic books—that feeling you would get from seeing something new and not understanding it—but doing it in a way that’s not strictly pastiche or referential,” he explains. “Because when you’re doing something that’s explicitly retro, it loses some of the impact it would have if you were to make it seem somewhat timeless.”

Floodgate Companion

Spread from Floodgate Companion

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Art Gallery: The City and the Cosmos Through Michael D. Hall’s “Specs”

Michael D. Hall
Michael D. Hall. Photo by Judson Felder.

Rapper, producer, artist, and Seattle native Michael D. Hall spent most of his early life on the streets of his city. Growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s, he was, “writing on your walls when I wasn’t reading comics,” as he declares on the title track of his latest EP, Golden Eagle. After noticing graffiti on his walks to and from school in Seattle’s industrial Georgetown neighborhood, Hall made a routine of haunting the streets: “I basically started going to school a couple hours early just to study all the walls on the way through the city,” he says. His first tag, Mr. Graffiti, didn’t stick—“I wanted a cooler/shorter name”—and after trying Specs he knew “that was the one.”

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Art Gallery: Leslie Stein’s Autobiographical Comics

Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein. Photo by David Black.

The joys, tedium, and indignities of being a working musician are well known to cartoonist Leslie Stein, accomplished guitarist and vocalist for Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock band Prince Rupert’s Drops. Though her comics are usually based on her own life, and are infused with her love of music (referencing Alex Chilton, LCD Soundsystem, Ringo Starr, The Band, Neil Young, Michael Hurley, and even the Osmonds), they rarely focus on her experiences as a musician. “I think art has always taken precedence over everything in my life,” Stein says. “I read about Hendrix falling asleep with his guitar in his bed; I fall asleep on the floor next to my drawing table sometimes. Not that I am comparing myself artistically to Hendrix, of course.”

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Behind the Scenes with Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner’s work, whether writing or music, is deeply personal and memorial. Zauner has a deft hand; she easily manages to tease out the elegant threads of joy and love in grief. Her work is mournful, but it is also celebratory. Her first solo album as Japanese Breakfast, Psychopomp, which she’s currently touring in support of, finds Zauner spinning lo-fi bedroom demos into sturdy, soaring dream-pop with glassine synths and Velcro hooks.

Photographer Chona Kasinger spent some time with Zauner before and at her recent show at The Crocodile in Seattle with Jay Som and Mitski. Our exclusive photo gallery is below.

—Jes Skolnik

Behind the Scenes With Downtown Boys

Anyone who’s seen Downtown Boys knows that the Providence political punk collective are a ball of white light on stage, bringing the kind of crackling energy that spurs people not just to dance, but to tear down a wall or two. The group derives so much of their on-stage power from their off-stage friendship that, when they’re not performing, that light doesn’t dim—it just gets more diffuse, translating to easy smiles and thoughtful conversation.

Photographer Chona Kasinger spent some time with the band at their recent show in Brooklyn at Market Hotel: loading in, relaxing together, and bringing the full power of their performance to the stage. Our exclusive photo gallery is below:

—Jes Skolnik

Art Gallery: Ryan Nelson’s D.C. Punk Aesthetic

Ryan Nelson art collage

“I’m sick to death of looking at my art. I’m proud of it, but I feel like I’m drowning in it.”—Ryan Nelson

If you have any level of familiarity with the D.C. punk and indie rock scene, you’ve seen Ryan Nelson’s distinctive artwork on flyers, album covers, and t-shirts—even if you don’t know his name. Nelson worked at Dischord Records (which he describes “as good and ethical a place as you’d imagine it to be”) for a good chunk of the ’90s. He was also in Jury Rig, The Most Secret Method, Oswego, The Routineers and Beauty Pill, and he designed many of the t-shirts for the Fort Reno free concert series. Living in Alexandria, VA, these days, he teaches high school English, and is a father to young twin boys, but still makes time for music with Soccer Team and Minutes.

Self Portrait With Hair
Ryan Nelson, Self Portrait With Hair

Nelson’s artwork is heavily (and admittedly) influenced by both Raymond Pettibon and Jaime Hernandez, but he was first inspired as a child by seeing a painting his older brother, Marc (who was also in The Most Secret Method), did. Determined to pursue visual art from that day, Nelson started out tracing encyclopedia artwork and daily newspaper comics like Bloom County, and found himself mesmerized by the Lichtenstein pieces at the National Gallery of Art as a sixth-grader. “Without really understanding what the appeal was,” he says. “I was recognizing that there was a lot going on in just a small panel, and it has everything to do with the composition. There’s a balance, there’s a symmetry.”

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

In choosing to digitize his collection of the artwork he’s done for his and his friends’ creative projects, Nelson admits that he’s closing the book on a certain chapter of his life. “I don’t want to look at that stuff any more,” he muses. “My relationship with [my past art] is complicated. I’m really proud of all of the things that I’ve done, like I can look back at a wake of projects that I’ve finished…but at the same time, I’m sick to death of looking at my handwriting. I’m sick to death of looking at my art. I’m proud of it, but I feel like I’m drowning in it.”

If you’ve been living with a wealth of your own work for so long, that perspective makes sense. But for those of us who either aren’t familiar with Nelson’s piquant, emotionally resonant art or who feel our nostalgia-strings tugged by seeing his familiar linework, this tour through some of his most beautiful pieces proves a buoyant experience. Scroll on to see some of Bandcamp’s favorites; the full digital gallery can be found here.

Ryan Nelson art


Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Jes Skolnik