Yesterday, Kris and I went to see the movie A Monster Calls in the theaters. Words can't really describe this sad and beautiful film, but I felt a real connection to it, as did Kris. It might have had to do with the monster and trees - two things I love, especially when combined, as well as the story, not to mention the strong emphasis on the power of art and imagination. The acting and the visuals were incredible as well, and I'm hoping for a Blu-Ray release of this gem, if not on DVD at least. I dug into my Splotch Monster archives for two (of many) Splotch Monster/tree mash-ups from recent years, that reminded of the wonderful giant tree beast in the movie. Below is a trailer for the film. A Monster Calls is one of those truly special works of cinematic art that only come around every once in a while, and I recommend seeing it to anyone who appreciates good film. -Steve
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Last week, while laying in bed reading, getting ready to fall asleep, I suddenly heard a gleeful squeal from my wife Kris, who happened to be looking at her i-phone with eyes wide open. Barely able to get the words out of her mouth, she managed to inform me that I was nominated in the "best artist" category for the current 2017 Best of Loudoun poll. At first I thought she was being funny, but to my pleasant surprise, there was my name, among about fourteen others. In the past, Kris and I would fill in these polls, and I'd always give Kris my "write-in" vote, as she would also do with me, but this time I found myself on the actual list. I'm not sure what it means to be "best artist", as there is a plethora of great artists in this very large county known as Loudoun, however I am very grateful to whoever it was who nominated me, and found my work worthy enough to be in this poll. If you also find my artwork worthy, and if you've followed my artistic endeavors and adventures for a while, or if you've just found out about it and like what you see, then why not vote for me? A win is definitely a long shot, but it's always so nice to see there are folks who appreciate what you do, somewhere out there. By the way, the pic below is just a screen shot. HERE's the link to vote. It's simple and you can vote from anywhere. Thanks a ton, in the meantime (and apologies for the horn tooting)! -Steve Loya
Thursday, July 28, 2016
by Steve Loya
Last night I attended the late July Takoma Park city council meeting as part of the "Politically Inclined" project, inviting artists who are currently on exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center's "Stylized Notions" art exhibit, featuring works from local, DC-area cartoonists and comic artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood blood drive events. In addition to myself, Bill Brown, Art Hondros, and Eric Gordon participated. Unlike Eric, Art, and Bill, all residents of Takoma Park, I drove out from Sterling, VA, and it was interesting to participate in some small way, and contribute something to the democratic process that is a City Council meeting - something I've never done before. In addition to being in good company, and hanging out with some great fellow artists for a little bit, I also wanted to try something slightly new and different, creatively.
The event was recorded and shown live on the Takoma Park community TV channel, as well as on their Facebook page. During a brief intermission, the artists spread their work out on the stage for folks to see, and it was great seeing the variety of approaches everyone took, and witnessing the positive reactions from the people in the auditorium. I think it was a great, positive experience for us artists as well.
A big big thanks goes out to organizers Marilyn Sklar and Chanthi Chandra-Sekar, Carolyn Belefski for the heads-up, and to all the artists and folks who participated in last night's city council meeting. In the meantime, there's talk of possibly having a little exhibit featuring last night's work. I'll post more, if anything more comes out of it. In the meantime, HERE are a few more photos, etc. from the event. You can also read more about it in the Takoma Voice!
- Steve Loya
*above pic: Bill Brown
*above pic: Steve Loya
*above pic: Takoma Park residents looking at some of the artwork made throughout the evening
above pic: Art Hondros
*above pic: Eric Gordon
Friday, July 08, 2016
by Steve Loya
Last night I attended the Stylized Notions, and Citizen Bill exhibits at the Takoma Park Community Center, in Takoma Park, Maryland. The exhibits featured the works of local cartoon and comics artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood, Red Cross blood drives, as well as the amazing work of longtime Takoma Park resident and Takoma Voice editorial cartoonist William L. Brown. The exhibits were beautifully set up in an excellent space, ideal for showcasing the wide array of talent from the greater DC area. Lots of folks came out for the reception, and there was a lot of great media coverage as well. Eric Gordon added an extra dimension of fun to the event by setting up a makeshift space in the corner of the center, drawing some of his trademark stylized portraits for anyone who was interested. A special thanks goes out to Carolyn Belefski and Shanthi Chandrasekar for getting these events off the ground, as well as to all the fantastic artists who contributed in one way or another. The shows will continue to run through September 4th, 2016, so there is still plenty of time to see it. There's also talk of a closing reception as well, of which I'll post more about soon. You can read more about the shows and the artists involved HERE in the Takoma Voice.
Saturday, July 02, 2016
On Thursday, July 7th, from 6:30-8:00 pm, come visit the Takoma Park Community Center for the official opening of the "Cartoonists Draw Blood" art exhibit, featuring a diverse display of some of the DC area's finest cartoon and comics-making talent. There will be refreshments and live drawing, as well as books available for purchase. Organized by Carolyn Belefski, of Curls Studio fame, the project began a couple of years back when a small band of local comics/cartoon creators from the DC region got together to draw and give away original art work to folks who stopped by a local Red Cross to donate blood. Many of the participating artists themselves donated blood as well! So, if you're in the area, don't hesitate to check this event out, as you'll be in for an excellent show.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
by Steve Loya
A couple of years ago I had the good fortune of finding out about local visual and performance artist, wordsmith, musician and teacher, Martin Graff and his extraordinary ongoing project known as The Face Zone. It was at a cartoonists and comics art exhibit in downtown Frederick, Maryland that I noticed a wall full of curious little minimalistic illustrations of strange and interesting faces, accompanied by some words. The cartoonish faces depicted things like melting cheese on a pizza and titles like "Melting Cheese Pain", paired with thoughtful musings on the dark side of personification. The words and images were brilliant and unique observations on everyday life, in some ways like a punk rock Jerry Seinfeld, with a Banksy-like sensibility.
Soon after, Marty, as most folks know him, had a big exhibit of his work, again in downtown Frederick, and I ended up purchasing his self-published Face Zone book, which compiled most of his words and illustrations. Marty describes his Face Zone series as "short visual meditations on what makes the world go round. Existential musings with a surreal twist and a dark sense of humor sure to trip your imagination...".
Last night, Artomatic, Frederick hosted one of Marty's live Face Zone events, taking those short, visual meditations one step further into the realm of spoken-word and performance art. As someone who has struggled, personally with speaking in front of one's peers, it always amazes me when someone seems to effortlessly get up in front of an audience of people to talk, act, sing or dance. I'm even more amazed when someone can remember their lines or the words they want to express to an audience, without forgetting. While Marty's performance, based on his illustrated and written Face Zone material, seemed like second-nature for him, there's no doubt the amount of time, energy and preparation condensed into a single half-an-hour show, was anything but effortless.
Seeing and hearing Marty expand and further elaborate upon the words and images in his book added yet another crucial dimension to The Face Zone experience, and according to Marty, is ultimately the core of what he does now - the book more or less a companion to his spoken-word shows. As someone who experienced both the art exhibits and book aspect of The Face Zone first, I found the spoken-word performance to delve much deeper and further into these musings on subject matter ranging from the relativity of the food we eat ("The Smell of Fresh Mangoons") to haunting childhood memories of how choking on a single lemon drop soured a young boy's perception of the ocean, off the Jersey shore ("Twinkles in The Sea"). One of my personal favorites was Marty's take on the absurdity of commercial advertising, with its irrational fairy-tale promises and the less-than-satisfying results ("Jolly Hot Peanuts"), which he began last night's performance with. However, despite the dark humor and keenly cynical observations of The Face Zone live, there was a glowingly optimistic underlying message of hope, and the love of life at the very core of it all.
The ability to hold an audience captive for extended periods of time as a one-man spoken word act is by no means an easy task, and in some ways Marty's musings and highly engaging observations on the world in which we live, relayed through the medium of speech, and told through the lens of personal experience, reminded me of some of the best performances from Henry Rollins, who I've seen speak live on several occasions over the past two decades. Word has it there may even be a musical element added to The Face Zone live experience in the not-too-distant future. Whatever the case, don't hesitate to witness Marty's live act, if he comes to a venue near you. In the meantime, TED Talks should seriously consider inviting Marty to do his thing for them, someday soon!
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
On Saturday, October 24th, award-winning cartoonist Mike Jenkins, who lives in northern Virginia, will be hosting his art reception, "Art to Lunch", from 6-8 pm at Studio Pause in Arlington, VA. For the past year or so, I've been following Mike's daily posts featuring the adventures of young Maggie and her struggles and challenges faced each and every day at school, as she forges ahead on her quest to make it through to another weekend. It is a truly amazing comic art series, and I'm always greatly impressed by Mike's seemingly inexhaustible ability to portray each single day that Maggie faces, in a brand new way. Drawn on brown paper lunch bags, it will be even more of a treat to see these works in person, so mark your calendars and don't sleep on this one!
Friday, April 17, 2015
Hey all, tomorrow (4/18) I'll be doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop from 3-5pm at The Griffin Art Center in downtown, Frederick, MD. It's free and open to the public, and it'll be a pretty laid-back, casual event. I'll also be staying by the gallery a couple extra hours, for anyone who missed the big show, which will be up for one more week, as of tomorrow. Saturday's going to be a beautiful day, and there's lots to see and do in Frederick, in addition to the show. Hope to see folks there!-Steve
Saturday, April 04, 2015
That's right. A little shameless plug - I've got a big art exhibit featuring Splotch Monster art, both big and small, old and brand spanking new, hanging at the beautiful front gallery of The Griffin Art center in historic, downtown Frederick, Maryland. The art reception will be a week from today, on Saturday, April 11, from 5-8pm, and it's going to be awesome. Below is a sneak peek at a fraction of what will be on display at the exhibit. There's also plenty more to see and do in the area. So, mark your calendars and hope to see you there next Saturday night! -Steve
Monday, March 02, 2015
STEAM: Caricatures of Notable People in the World of Science, Technology & the Arts By Mike Caplanis
by Steve Loya
Right down the road from me, at the George Washington University Science & Technology Campus in Ashburn, VA is an extraordinary art exhibit taking place featuring the caricature work of Mike Caplanis. Titled "STEAM: Caricatures of Notable People in the World of Science, Technology & the Arts", this show could not be happening at a more appropriate time, as public schools across the country are now starting to focus more and more on the merging of the strengths of science, technology and arts-related curriculums. In fact, next week my own school will have its first "STEAM Week" (formerly STEM, until recently, when the arts began to finally gain recognition as an absolutely valid element in public school programs). Caplanis, whose brilliant and unique take on the caricature genre, has been featured in the Washingon Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford-American History Magazine, among many others. He also illustrated the book Drawn to the Civil war, which features the biographies and caricatures of Civil War heroes. Seeing some of my own personal heroes illustrated in this exhibit, including the likes of Claude Monet, Orson Welles, Sitting Bull, Bob Marley, Frida Kahlo, Johnny Cash, the members of the Beatles, and many more, made my day. The exhibit, located at Enterprise Hall on the George Washington University Virginia Science & Technology Campus is free and open to the public, and ends on March 30, 2015.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
by Steve Loya
Local artist Eric Gordon is currently having an art exhibit of his "DC Creeper" portraiture at the Kefa Cafe in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you're familiar with the local zine circuit, you may know Eric for the zine and blog he and his wife Sara run called Vinyl Vagabonds, lovingly chronicling their adventures in vinyl record collecting. However, Eric is also a spectacular artist, specializing in expressive, spontaneous portraits of folks in and around the DC area, almost exclusively done on site. Eric's been documenting this work at his DC Creepers blog as well, and I was fortunate enough to witness the man in action at the first ever Cartoonists Draw Blood fundraiser event, organized by Carolyn Belefski of Curls Studio fame.
While I wasn't able to make it to Eric's opening night last Friday, which I heard was pretty well packed, I'm certainly glad I decided to make good use of my snow day today and, along with my wife Kris, make the drive out to Kefa Cafe for some breakfast and coffee and a look at Eric's art in person. Eric's show, officially titled "Creeping Every Day: Sketching Without Being Too Sketchy" is part of an ongoing series of new art exhibits at Kefa Cafe, in a space dedicated to showing local talent called Space 7:10. The show will run through February 28th, 2015, so if you're in the area, don't hesitate to drop in, have a bite and a sip and a look around!