Monday, June 29, 2015


One of the several Germany posts from the beginning of the year I hadn't finished and posted yet, this one is from shortly after New Year's, when Hannes' parents took us to the waterfront. 

This particular waterfront is a resort town and section of Rostock called Warnemünde, where the Warnow River empties into the Baltic. This was the first of no fewer than 957 things that were "...nice, but so much better in summer!" that I was of course very happy to see even if it was at the wrong time. It was violently windy, and we got painfully sandblasted walking down to the end of the jetty adjacent to the beach, but it was lovely.


Hannes' mom's camera got sandblasted enough that it stopped working after this; 
I'm glad I was able to get a few really cool pictures without such serious reprocussions.

These are by a fairly famous local sculptor named Jo Jastram.
Hannes' grandpa (maternal) - sort of a jack-of-all-creative-trades -
 apprenticed under him up until they had a falling out.

Stupidly picturesque balance of primary colours is.. Well, you know.

A couple of the stalls on the boardwalk were selling bread, fresh-baked 
in large stone ovens, right there. It kind of reminded me of San Francisco. 

"Wait, I need to get a picture of this,"

"It's a llama. There's a llama right here."
Llama: |:3

They took us to a nice restaurant with delicious hot apple wine, an enormous 
cheesy oven-baked vegetable gratin (which kind of seems to be the standard
 German vegetarian option), and of course beautiful-looking seafood.

It was a pretty glorious afternoon. What a relaxing time that was! I'm glad a got my fill, because really, Tokyo has been almost nothing but stress and aggravation so far. Maybe it seems kind of soon, but I can't wait for the next seaside vacation Dx

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Axel Stocks

A few years ago I met and eventually posted about a uniquely stylish artist with a powerful presence I happened to meet at a bar in a town called Prescott, after my friend Carl and I had downed an entire bottle of cake-flavoured vodka in something like 25 minutes, gone out, and continued drinking there. 

I made a post about an interesting Italian immigrant architect when I found out through my former high school painting teacher that he had died in 2013, because I feel like his experimental, environmentalist, distinctly-mid-20th-century-futurist conceptualisations are one of the defining qualities of the Arizona desert.

Then there was the dark period I went through at the end of my first year in Korea (that basically continued for the first half of the second), when I revisited the love I had for Russian literature and Tchaikovsky as a teenager and found out about a cool animator who fit very well into the whole motif.

I'd really hoped that there would be more posts about individual artists after doing that first one, but it hasn't worked out that way. I haven't even made a fashion post in moons possibly numbering in the double digits; it's practically a travesty.

But just now, through another artist I like named Paul Komoda (yes, Virginia, you do indeed have Facebook stalkers), I found out about another one, who was the former's mentor. Like Paolo Soleri, though, the only reason I know his name or have ever seen pictures of his work is that he's unfortunately just passed away.

His name was Axel Stocks, and I'm learning more about him through observing his friend and mentee grieve publicly over social media than the rest of the collective Internet can apparently teach me in its entirety, so maybe I should be appreciative of that and try to share the small pieces of his legacy that I can find. 

What a bamf, seriously
When a true artist and eclectic dies in New York City, everybody should take a minute to notice and consider the cultural relevance of it. Though in this case I'd never heard of Axel Stocks before, I never made a post about Jimmy Mirikitani and still feel like I should have, so I'm not going to skip it.

Frustratingly, the Lower East Side Biography Project interviewed him as part of a series called Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia, but their interviews are aired on a local Manhattan channel and none of the excerpts on YouTube include Axel Stocks. Komoda has posted a personal video or two from about 25 years ago, but I'm not about to take those. The main gallery that hosted his exhibitions, called Art on A, posted that he'd been missing for two weeks before he was found, which bears sad similarity to a story a close friend just told me last week about a terrible personal experience of his.

While the man's anthropomorphic, sometimes grotesquely sexualised sculptural jewelry pieces, sketches, and paintings rendered in his own blood might strike the average person as Satanic or otherwise darkly occult, the man himself thought that occultism was a load of shit and that the only true magic was to be made through art. Paul Komoda said that knowing him was the closest he could have ever come to being in the presence of an actual wizard. 

In their article about his Bloody Genius show a couple of summers ago, Juxtapoz had some pretty hilarious praise for him as the "protégé of Salvador Dalí and jeweler to Axl Rose, this Axl [sic] has authentic Papal robes in his closet and cites Lady GaGa for saving his life".

Here's a piece he did that's clearly a slightly altered Harkonnen Chair...

... and here's him sitting in another one.
I'm not sure if he knew Giger, but it'd make a lot of sense if they'd at least met and gotten along.

And here's him with John John Jesse, the punk rock painter of usually-half-naked hot girls who's done album and poster art for Agnostic Front and cites a mixture of Art Nouveau and Pop Surrealism (among other, more pretentious things) as his influences:

Axel Stocks also owned no fewer than two "annoying" cockatoos that, from the very little I know, seem to have enjoyed perching on peoples' heads above all other worldly pleasures:

Ever seen a festering, blistered, saggy-titted butterfly before?
Me neither.

Ever seen or read Witchblade
That's what these intricate, Bronze Age-looking pieces remind me of.

He seems like the kind of person who lived every day as interestingly as possible, and like he would've been awesome to know.

Craft(y) Project: Art Mail 2

Took me long enough, but I finally sent out the second round of "art mail".

Since we moved here I've been having sort of a quarter life crisis, and I think the only solution is to be as personally fulfilled as possible, so I've been dying to get my shit from Korea and start painting again, but this is one of the two slow-moving projects I have to tide me over until I can sort everything out. Most of what I have to work with right now consists of clippings from free magazines picked up in train stations and sheets of packaging and cheap origami paper. 

There's a town in Saitama called Moroyama with a cute second-hand shop run by a very nice older couple. Mostly they sell kitchen goods, everything is dusty, the lights often aren't on, and they open whenever they feel like it in the morning. Anyway, aside from newspaper, they also use large sheets of this silver Phoenix-printed orange paper to wrap breakable things. It also has an American southwestern vibe if you're thinking about it the right way, which is what I wanted for this envelope:

I sent a small handwritten letter, some flake stickers, and articles and clippings about music, art and fashion to this particular friend who recently left the Bay Area to reevaluate priorities and get some fresh air ("find himself" is way too trite and patronising) somewhere in New Mexico.

This next one was for a lovely, sweet Japanese woman I met and became friends with while working in Seoul. She dreams of returning to New Zealand - where she met her Korean husband - one day, opening a cafe there, and owning and raising llamas and sheep.

Originally I wanted to make a long, folded-up string of Alpacasso-inspired sheep and llamas that would accordion out like a shockingly lengthy bill in a cartoon, but after doing the first one, I realised I just wasn't going to draw that many, and cut it off at like 6.

Yeah, by the time I got to the one that was just a butt, my attention span was already spent, and I only made it to 5. I've disappointed my family, my country, and myself.

I made an envelope out of a lovely, thick, glossy flyer for an international gardening and rose show I'd been seeing at train stations in Saitama and threw in a second note on a cute bunny, some flake stickers, and paw-shaped gummies.

This next one's for a girl I went to college with and who I thought was still living in Aomori, until I messaged about her address and found out she'd been compelled by unfortunate circumstances to return Stateside. She's been working as a barista and doing freelance J - E translating on the side. 
Being previously aware of her love for tea and cute things, the barista theme was kind of already in place and came together easily as a collage.

Along with the handwritten notes, I specifically sent her articles (on a J-rock icon and super cute but adult recipes) in Japanese:

Oh right, duh, and more flake stickers, because who the fuck doesn't like cute stickers.

Finally, I realised I could put together this last one pretty quickly for a certain train otaku I know living in Kochi. He spent Golden Week in central Europe. When I found out several months ago upon telling him that I was going to Germany that he'd been learning German for a while and planned on going himself, it was a weird, totally coincidental crossing of interests and points in our lives.

So, naturally, I sent him the Japanese train system-related things I had and turned the Tokyo subway map into an (upside-down) ersatz German postcard asking about his trip.

Now that we're settled, I'm hoping to get the third round of these into the mail a lot faster, though working with such limited supplies after work and on the weekends when I'm not doing something else - like spending 6 hours at Immi or quitting my job - is slow-going. 
Not only that, but making each packet something personal and fitting is a bit more challenging than I thought it'd be. 

Thankfully, another friend I went to college with who's also been living here in Japan told me that she writes short stories as a hobby and gave me the unique idea of what exactly I should exchange with her, but a lot of others are still up in the air. 
Part of this quarter life crisis thing for me, though, is my lifelong struggle with actually finishing the projects that I start, so this is going to go on for a while, damn it. Not only that, but I miss people, want to stay in touch, and want to do it through creative expression and the gradually disappearing joy of receiving something in the mail.

So, onward!