Created by Atlantic City, New Jersey area natives Rene “June” Ortiz and John Morris, Blockhead Customs is a grass-roots art & apparel company with an abstract style and a strong Hip Hop / urban foundation. A chance meeting at the post office sparked a conversation between the two. They quickly realized that they both shared mutual friends in the Greater Atlantic City area, and more importantly, a mutual taste for urban art.
While this talented twosome typically showcases their work at the Noyes Arts Garage out of Stockton University, they’ve also been featured at Planet Rose Karaoke Bar at The Quarter within Tropicana Casino and Resort, and of course have a strong web presence and social media following. The Blockhead Customs brand consists mostly of murals and clothing apparel, including hats. The subjects of their paintings range from influential artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, to iconic sports figures such as Tyson, Ali, and Jordan, Hip Hop legends such as Tupac, Biggie, and Rick Ross, and of course, fabled cartoon star Mickey Mouse. A quick glance at the art samples on this post reveal an abstract, part-despondent, part-hopeful, and always colorful theme across their work. It’s a signature style that permeates Blockhead Customs’ murals and much of its apparel.
Along those lines, the company’s most recent push has been towards its “Love’ll Get You Killed” themed clothing. With its trademark broken heart logo, “Love’ll Get You Killed” apparel, particularly the hats, are building significant momentum in the Atlantic City area. As Morris notes, “we are not street artists or graffiti artists. We are just creative individuals. Today we may be doing art, tomorrow we may be in the fashion industry. Who knows?” One can see that both Ortiz and Morris have a passion for their work, and as such, promise to keep developing and delivering their vibrant, vivid, and unique style for years to come.
So if you’re not yet hip to the game, add some culture to your life and check them out. There’s sure to be something in their portfolio that catches your eyes or touches your soul. Blockhead Customs art & apparel are available for purchase at Blockheadcustoms.com. In true artist fashion, the duo doesn’t shy away from challenges and welcomes customized requests which can be made via the website. Be sure to check out Blockhead Customs on the web and to follow the movement on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram.
Tonight on the show the Oddballs welcome the local artist known as Not Art, whose distinctive tags can be found re-appropriating overlooked or forgotten pieces of our urban landscape. We’ll discuss the message expressed in this graffiti-based artform, and we’ll find out what’s next the elusive Not Art. To tune in just press play below. #WeAreAllOddballs
Ifé Franklin is the Raw Truth. End of the story; yet, the beginning of HerStory as well. It is one she has been telling and living for 25 years as a professional artist and community activist.
Ifé developed her Aso Adire skills by way of Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts course, “The Art of Africa” in the late 1980’s. It is there where she met her mentor, Master Adire Artist Mr. Stanley Pinckney. Ife continues to create and teach others Adire (traditional West African resist and dying techniques) and owns and operates IféArt® which produces sculpture, installations, drawing, collage, photography, and fiber arts.
Ifé often works collaboratively with other social justice organizations and artists. She believes it is her destiny to create and use her voice to convey her passion for the arts and her love for freedom, peace and justice. She states, “Over the years I received many awards for my work. Yet the one I hold most dear is The Pat Parker Award I received for speaking out against homophobia here in Boston.”
I have experienced Ifé’s work through The Indigo Project (http://www.ifearts.com/-/indigo-project). The Indigo Project is Ifé’s “vision to create a project that honors the lives and history of formerly enslaved Africans/African Americans in the American South, who labored in the harshest conditions to produce indigo and cotton materials.” The Indigo Project “provided a historical, artistic and cultural context about the lives of the enslaved.”
“IféArt® is my labor of love. IféArt® is all that I am. I live art. I breath Art. I am the Art. I now accept this. I create because I am ‘called’ to do so. I am a ‘creative.’ I am honored. I am humbled. I am ready to kick some ass.” The Underground Garden this week is dedicated to helping Ifé kick that ass!
Ifé’s next project, “The Slave Narrative Of Willie Mae,” are written in the voice of Ifé’s great-grandmother, Willie Mae McCain, who was born in Virginia on the threshold of emancipation. They chronicle the life of Willie Mae from enslavement to her freedom. The narratives have been performed at a number of venues in the Boston area, including the University of Massachusetts, Boston’s Harbor Gallery, and most recently, Franklin Park, where the narratives were performed outside as originally intended.
Currently the narratives are being edited and are more than half-way completed. Ifé has set up this donation page through which funds collected will “allow [her] to self-publish and distribute the narratives as part of the Ife Franklin Indigo Project installation. The funds would go toward the publication of The Slave Narratives of Willie Mae. The Narratives are integral to [her] work and to the entire instillation.”
I, along with many others, truly believe in the vision and messages Ifé Franklin conveys, the homages she pays and the healing dialogue her work encourages. Ifé Franklin is the Raw Truth.
I invite you to visit Ifé’s website and the IféArt® Facebook page for a full view of Ifé’s prior work. I almost submitted 10 pictures for this article! Her pieces are for the Taking In. Should you wish to contact Ife directly, she’s here!
“I couldn’t do it without you. Peace and Love, Ifé”
Here’s to helping The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae go into print as we continue to witness this Journey. We Love You Ifé. Thank you for your Work!
Liza Zayas is a lover of writing and dancing and celebrates both as a singer and songwriter performing as Luna del Flor. You can hear her collaborative sounds and experience life through her storytelling. She invites you to dance. Her poetry seeks to initiate dialogue by intentionally expressing consequences of love, lust, ego and self-respect
Truly stunning, sometimes careless,
I crave silently and far away!
Naked, filled up with perfection,
I am attending enjoyment!!!
Where there is trust there is always glee.
He never painted my passion,
Dreams from the color to the word,
Without suspense and shivers.
The moment of light strikes me.
Pressing Japanese air onto my face.
April is slowly spilling its colors,
above duplicate shadows dancing away.
Tatjana Debeljački is Editor of the magazine Poeta, and a member of both the Union of Yugoslav Writers in Homeland and Immigration. She has published four collections of poetry: A House Made of Glass (ART – Užice in 1996), Yours (Narodna knjiga Belgrade,2003), Volcano (Lotos from Valjevo, 2004), and Ah-Eh-Ih-Oh-Uh (Poeta, Belgrade, 2008). Her poetry and haiku have been translated into several languages.
Allison Goldin is an artist living in California. Her work is a collection of spontaneous drawings from the imagination. The most common link throughout her art are the semi-recognizable creatures scattered amongst and bringing together the surrounding doodles.
It was a bitingly cold winter, even by the frigid standards of New England. Stephen James, a severely depressed, financially destitute bisexual painter, lived in Truro, a tiny town populated with artists and writers, which blossomed in the summer months due to its close proximity to Provincetown. James had moved to the small village after spending his life in the grungy environs of inner-city Philadelphia. He had thought such a secluded town would offer a perfect opportunity to hone his craft and even achieve his dream of becoming a successful or acclaimed painter. The fact that Truro was once the sometime home of his idol, the late Edward Hopper, sealed the deal.
Over ten years later, Stephen had failed to set the art world on fire. His moody, dreamlike expressionism paintings were too abstract for a large audience, yet too derivative for the serious art critic. About the only benefit of his move, if it could be called that, was the casual sex he often received during cold, lonely nights at a Provincetown hotel. These encounters led Stephen to finally embrace his bisexuality, which he had long buried when married to his beautiful poet wife Sandy, who died of cervical cancer at the age of 26 shortly before he made the move from Philadelphia to Cape Cod.
When not painting, James lost himself in tequila, the dry melancholy of Leonard Cohen, and the hopeless de-humanism of Franz Kafka. On many occasions, he contemplated suicide, but decided against it. He realized that there was a slight possibility he would be hailed a genius after killing himself, and being a staunch atheist, he was convinced he was never going to find out about this occurrence. He would rather live a long, bleak life as a failure than die one and never get to experience the elation of being a success.
A mere three miles away from James’ home was the cottage Edward Hopper and his wife owned for many years. Although he longed to visit it, he never once stopped by in all the time he had lived there. He felt that visiting the home of such a legendary artist would only remind him what a colossal failure he was. Although Stephen wanted to be a painter since he was in preschool, he often scolded himself for his foolish decision. Becoming an artist throughout history was a perpetually unwise decision, but it especially is in the 21st Century, in which there are no nationally known and commercially successful living painters, the most recently deceased being the absolutely talentless hack Thomas Kinkade.
One especially dark and freezing January morning, Stephen decided to take a walk over to the Hopper House for the first time for some inspiration. Indeed, his life seemed like a Hopper painting, but he would rather emulate the painter’s craft than his squalid subjects. He huddled tightly in a winter coat, and headed towards the stormy beach, with a single white cottage gleaming in front of a lovely yet desolate landscape. He stood in front of the unassuming house, and sat for nearly an hour, deep in thought concerning the abyss of his sad little life. He finally rose up to leave, when he suddenly noticed a lamp on in the living room, and a middle-aged woman with bushy red hair and an old-fashioned dress reading a book by Nathanael West. Intrigued by her inexplicable presence and uncanny resemblance to Edward’s wife Josephine, he hesitantly decided to knock on the door.
The commanding noise visibly startled the woman, who jumped out of the chair. She nervously answered the door. “What do you want, sir?” “Hi, sorry to be rude, but what are you doing in Edward Hopper’s house?” The woman’s face twitched with confusion, and then she laughed hysterically. “For heaven’s sake, I’m his wife, Josephine.” Stephen chuckled and shook his head. “That’s impossible. She died in 1968.” “How can you know that?!” she exclaimed. “That’s 31 years in the future!” Stephen shook his head and twitched nervously. “I have no idea what is going on here.”
“Neither do I,” Josephine affirmed. “Do you want to come in? I can make some hot coffee if you want, it’s brutally cold out there.” “Sure,” Stephen shrugged. He walked in hesitantly, several steps behind Josephine.
“Sorry this house is so modestly furnished. It is only a part-time dwelling. Normally we live in a spacious Midtown Manhattan apartment.” “It’s fine. Actually, I like the décor.” “Thank you,” Josephine blushed, “but there’s no need to lie.” Stephen chuckled. “I’m not. I enjoy it immensely; it makes sense that the wife of an artistic genius would have great taste in decoration.”
Josephine’s eyebrows rose towards the ceiling. “Artistic genius? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, now.” “I honestly think he is a master, and one of the best of the century.” Josephine snorted. “You do realize Picasso, Magritte, and Kandinsky are still alive and well, correct?” “Of course. I’d argue that he is on par with any of them.” Josephine chuckled. “Well, it’s nice you think that. I mean, before I married Ed, I thought that I was the superior artist. I still do. I just wish I weren’t the only one who thought so. Now I’m just a housewife,” Josephine sighed. “So, on that note, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m actually a painter myself, based here in Truro,” Stephen replied. “Really? What is your full name?” “Stephen James.” “I have to admit, I’ve never heard of you.” “I’m not very successful,” Stephen shrugged. Josephine nodded with understanding. “It’s okay. Neither was Ed, in the beginning.” “The beginning?!” Stephen exclaimed. “I’ve been busting my ass for over a decade, to no avail.” “A decade may seem like a long time, but it often takes far more than that to achieve success, especially in a fickle business like painting.”
“I guess,” Stephen shrugged. “Do you have a girlfriend?” Josephine asked, with curiosity shining in her inquisitive eyes. Stephen became solemn. “I did have a wife, but she passed away right before I moved to Truro.” Josephine’s eyes widened with concern. “Oh, Stephen, I am so sorry.” “It’s okay. Life goes on. For better or worse, I suppose.” “Indeed. Well, I can hear and smell that coffee boiling. I’ll be right back.” Stephen sat, as his long-suppressed grief about his late wife re-emerged.
The aroma of fresh coffee wafted in the air, as Josephine entered the room. Stephen looked up to his amazement, as Josephine carried the mugs of coffee while completely naked, revealing a shapely, milky white body. Stephen was flabbergasted. “What on earth? What would Edward think?”
“Nothing. It didn’t happen if he wasn’t here to see it. And I know for sure he does the same thing all the time. Where do you think he is now? He’s not in his Manhattan studio, that’s for sure.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Stephen robotically replied.
“Who says it’s wrong? Monogamy made sense when everyone died at age 30. It makes not an iota of sense now.” “Fair enough,” Stephen said ravenously, as he unzipped his pants and tore off his sweater. His slim yet flabby naked body lay next to the beautiful form of Josephine Hopper.
“I know this is a personal question, but when’s the last time you made love to a woman?” “11 years. This will be indescribably refreshing.” “It will for me as well.” The two strangers made passionate love for what seemed like hours.
Stephen closed his eyes and swooned, and after it was over, he opened them to gaze at his beloved. Yet when his eyes opened, Josephine was nowhere to be found, and he was back in his bed in 2014. He began to shed a cold, lonely tear.
Yet, suddenly, he had an inspiration. Stephen started work immediately on a lovingly detailed, completely non-abstract portrait of the nude, womanly body of Josephine Hopper. He labored on it for ages, but finally it was finished, and he was convinced that he had painted his masterpiece. He titled it, fittingly, Edward Hopper’s Wife.
Samuel Burleigh is currently working on writing a short story cycle set on the 15 towns of the Cape, and the islands of Martha’ Vineyard and Nantucket.
Allison Goldin is an artist living in Cambridge. Her work is a collection of spontaneous drawings from the imagination. The most common link throughout her art are the semi-recognizable creatures scattered amongst and bringing together the surrounding doodles. She is currently studying Illustration at The School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
As Art slowly stopped moving,
The city kept,
And city mansions over grew
They rolled over offices
And the walls would come down
And new high-rises would come up
The man Art, well no one could see him anymore,he might as well have
to the people he would help during his grueling day shift, up the elevator lifts.
But the city! The city that Art created!
Expanded so far and so wide!
there was a peace of mind building within the people
of the city! The city that Art grew, fostered, nurtured….
But one day Art, became weak Art sank to his knees
And eventually the city swallowed him completely,
And there the city expanded over the Land Art walked on, as a man…
Till eventually the man with a city on his back,
Could no longer stand
And the city kept expanding, and more land was being
Taken, more land was consumed,
The oil was produced,
And as Art cried out in agony,
The man with the city on his back, simply ceased to be.
But Art existed, in the lakes and the streams,
And the city streetlights, that electric vibe,
The city grew faster, and larger, and where Art was,
The city grew smarter,
Because the people who knew Art loved Art
Because Art was what made the city breathe.
Gave life to the city, and ended wars on the city streets
Where people who just wanted the resources, no one would mourn him too long
But Art….made the city
Art asked a lot of the city, that he brought to life,
And I guess that’s what the seers saw, but never took Art’s sight.
Cause Art, was once a man, but once he was gone
He became the legend, and his legend lives on….
Because once a man, named Art with a city on his back
Living in the flats, and helping rich cats with their bags
Up those high rises, that reached the sky.
Art was a nobody, until Art died.
And what Art left was cities, and forests
And trees, and factories, and spray-painted galleries
Of oceans and seas, and expressions, like
“Art made me, Art saved me”
On teeshirts, and hoodies.
Art the man with a city on his back, became the muse,
The whole world flew for….and those on his back never did know….and still don’t
the legend of Art, the City and the Elevator Dream.
It was only the ones,
Left long ago….who know.
We live because of Art.
The algorithm of mankind
Started on one man’s shoulder
But though this is part 4, and yes story time is over…
Those who don’t know that’s how this whole thing begun….
Listen to the music man, you’ll understand
Art moved, breathed and the city grew.
Art grew me. Art grew you.
And that’s what Art was
meant to do.
Does Art’s heart still beat inside of you?
Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. Man the Storm is his alter ego. His “Jagged Thoughts” column appears weekly. He is an awesome, awesome poet.