The Phantom of the Opera Reimagined by B&A
Masks have been a part of artistic expression for millennia. Allowing humans to take the face of another being transcends the human experience and brings us into contact with the divine (and the basest of creation). They allow us to step out of ourselves and reach another understanding of how the universe works, and how we relate to it. In many ways, the mask reveals. It gives us the freedom to express our true selves, no longer chained by our identity, finally liberated to be what we explore. For every artist that exploration is different, and every artist’s mask is different.
2014’s “Art of the Mask” was a celebration of Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera. The longest running show on The Great White Way marked another season of success by inviting fans and artists on a week-long retrospective and behind the scene investigation. Props and costumes from the show were available for study, as well as educational displays about the history and workings of the show. But the highlight of the show was a series of masks created by different artists. There was a contest that engaged all Phantom Fans from around the world, encouraging them to submit their own designs, but there were a handful of working artists tapped by Serino Coyne that included B&A’s Tes One, Victor Gadino, Griesbach / Martucci, ilovedust, and Chris Parks who got in on the fun (as well as up and coming artist Claudia Griesbach). The designs were only limited by the artists’ imaginations (and what they could fit on the show’s iconic mask).
In each of these artist’s interpretations we see how the mask plays creatively with the themes of the story, the artistry of the production, and the distinct style of each artist. All the masks were auctioned off to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. So at least we know behind the mask is a kind heart.
Pale Horse Design Jumps In to Lucha Libre
In Mexico there is a tradition of amateur wrestling that transcends our conventions in the States. Lucha Libre, Spanish for “Free Wrestling,” is a display of pageantry that bridges the gap between backyard wrestling and professional. It is an art form all its own, relying on characters and performance to create mini dramas within the ring. And as Chris Parks, the man behind Pale Horse Design, can tell you: there’s nothing else like it. “The sound of Lucha Libre in Mexico City is different from anything I’ve ever heard before,” says Chris. “It’s a really exciting style of wrestling, it’s acrobatic and the characters with the masks and costumes are very dramatic and exciting and flashy.” Chris’ love for Lucha Libre has extended beyond being merely a fan, inspiring a curiosity in him that lead him down a road to today. This evening, “Pale Horse Lucha: The Art of Lucha Libre” opens at Nova 535 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For Chris, the world of Lucha Libra was a rich mine to tap creatively, and he started by using the style and characters as a springboard into his own creative process. “After watching a lot of this live wrestling, I had met some other wrestlers that had seen some of the work I did for WWE. So it was kind of an instant connection,” says Chris. “I had started just creating my own masked characters and showing them to these guys and they were really interested in taking on these personas. So it was never really a plan, just one thing lead to another.” Through these new connections he found someone to make the masks of his characters (a gentleman who had trained for his craft in Mexico), eventually making entire costumes, backstories, that have all built to the match at his show this evening.
The personas of luchadores (the name for the wrestlers) aren’t created in an artistic crucible like Chris’ Oraculo and Serpentico, and Chris knows this. But it’s not really something to stress about. “Everything we’re doing is a little bit different and not really worrying about the way that it’s been done in the past, but really kind of creating our own thing,” he explains. At the end of the day, he’s taking inspiration form this tried and tested tradition, and it’s entertaining people which is the ultimate goal. “I’m creating my own cast of superhero characters that I can use as my inspiration for the illustrations, and then people can watch them actually battle it out in the wrestling ring,” says Chris.
If you want to see that display, tonight is your chance! Pale Horse Lucha is tonight! Get your tickets here!
Vault49 and Pale Horse Celebrate Music with Sonos
Award shows like The Grammys are a benchmark for many artists. Careers converge on these nights, a whole year of artistry and lobbying culminating at the reading of a card. Hundreds are nominated and only a handful leave with their hands full of trophies. It’s an exciting night where dreams come true, with some differed. But what happens the next day after the statues have been distributed and the artists have to get back to work?
To create an ongoing celebration of the people and energy that goes into creating music, Sonos teamed up with a handful of visual artists to design speakers inspired by nominees. Both Vault49 and Pale Horse Design got involved, handling different categories in their signature styles and processes.
Vault49 tackled bringing 10 different artists into their process. Luckily, Vault49 is set up for that kind of huge undertaking. “Vault49 is quite unique in that we have a lot of artists that work in one studio,” explains Jonathan Kenyon, Creative Director and Founder of Vault49. “So rather than having one artist do one collection of five pieces, we actually had fives artists do a design from each of the two award categories.” By splitting the work, each artist was able to commit to the full composition of each of the pieces.
Part of their work was to interpret each artist in a unique way. They were directed by Sonos to avoid the classic representations of each artist and find another way to communicate their energies. “Whether it’s the hat and the glasses of Beck or the legs for Beyonce, or abstract patterns for Sam Smith. We really tried to drill down into what would be instantly recognizable as the artist,” says Jon. After they arrived at the designs, Vault49’s artists employed a range of painting techniques to translate the designs onto the speakers. From markers, to airbrush, to paintbrush, they chose what would work best with each aesthetic and artist to complete the composition.
This kind of work is exactly what brings out the best in Vault49. “We have everybody pushing themselves to try lots of new techniques,” says Jon. “There’s nothing more satisfying than leaving the office with paint under your fingernails.”
When Chris Parks from Pale Horse Design got his assignment, he went right to work as he was responsible for five speakers. But the project was a natural fit. “Music has always been a big part of my career,” Chris says. He’s always been singing and playing guitar for bands since the beginning, “That’s kind of how I got my start, making graphics and album art for my own band.” Everything else has come out of those beginnings.
Like Vault49, Chris avoided using the immediately recognizable signatures of each artist, instead translating them through his distinct style. “What I always inject into my work is bold colors, and nice line work, and a lot of the work that I do has a tattoo influence to it,” Chris says. The only challenge was working in a totally different medium. Typically, Chris does all of his work digitally. But this one was going to applied by hand. “I had to think about things a little differently, creating work that could be painted onto the speakers. Simplifying my normal style down to a graphic that could be painted really well.” He stuck true to his Rock 'N Roll style, but adjusted his work so it would sing on the speakers.
We've included some photos from Vault49 and Pale Horse's process so you can get a taste of how these pieces came together.
Art Basel Miami Beach PreviewArt Basel Miami Beach is the largest collective art show in the US and officially gets underway tomorrow. Three Bernstein & Andriulli artists will be participating in several events throughout the week.
Chris Parks of Pale Horse Design is one of the featured artists at Basel Castle. Produced by The Overthrow, Basel Castle is a minifestival bringing together some of the world's most influential contemporary artists and musicians. The Castle features artist-created interactive games where attendees can win limited edition prizes. Pale Horse has created a game where people throw bean bags at six, printed skate decks that spin and combine to reveal two new Pale Horse illustrations. Winners will receive limited edition Pale Horse koozies and stickers. Music for Basel Castle is curated by Brooklyn's Fool's Gold Records and the lineup includes the likes of Twin Shadow, Purity Ring and Brenmar.
Kai & Sunny are featured special guests at AD Oasis at the Raleigh on Friday, December 7th. The event is curated by ICA/Boston's Pedro Alonzo and will feature various Kai & Sunny pieces. Also at the Raleigh, Tes One will be doing a live painting on Thursday and Friday. Tes One will be creating a large scale painting comprised of 60 individual panels along a 30 ft wall. Both events are presented by Architectural Digest.
Our Lady of Luchadores by Pale Horse Design
Buddha Gamer by Pale Horse Design