Arcana: Books on the Arts

For the avid art explorer no visit to Los Angeles is complete without a few hours page-turning in arguably one of the world’s finest bookstores. Arcana: Books on the Arts has been the go-to purveyors for specialist, out of print and collectible publications on twentieth-century visual art, architecture, design, photography, film and fashion since 1984.
In 2012, Arcana founder Lee Kaplan relocated from Santa Monica to Culver City’s landmark Art Deco complex at Helms Bakery - a former bread bakery from the 1930s, now transformed into LA’s interior design district.

There is no hint of the Deco on entering the 5000 sq ft space. Bright, white lines welcome visitors into this extensive emporium of over 100,000 items collected by Kaplan himself. A kaleidoscope of covers and spines colour the minimal, monochrome space from floor to ceiling on banks of custom metal shelving. Curated by theme and alphabetised, lowfi subject dividers on upcycled cardboard slot between catalogue raisonnés and monographs of international artists and designers as well as statement tomes on iconic aesthetics, architecture or actors. Elusive publications are designated cabinet space akin to artworks in miniature white cube displays.
If book shops are for bookworms, Arcana is for butterflies. The atmosphere is elegant and serene yet electric with every book unleashed from its plastic sleeve, revealing high-quality imagery produced by the world's leading publishing houses. From little and large to minimal and extravagant, Arcana’s vast range of visual page candy is unparalleled to the bookshelves of even the grandest of museum gift shops and is a testament to its strong client base from the creative worlds of entertainment, design and fashion who visit the shop for inspiration, guided by Kaplan’s comprehensive expertise on the old, the new and the beautiful.
Arcana: Books on the Arts is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am – 7pm
The Historic Helms Bakery

8675 Washington Boulevard

Culver City, Los Angeles CA 

Look out for more for future posts reporting on my visit to LA earlier this year where I explored the alternative art and design scenes across the city here on the blog, my Twitter and Instagram


10 Ideas

Ding-dong December is here and my Christmas gift guide drops for another year with ten ideas that will guarantee culture points under the tree this Holiday season. Inspired from the worlds of art and design that have caught my eye on my travels or have been featured here on the blog and on my Twitter throughout the course of the year, follow my curated countdown of discerning gifts for the naughty and nice…

1. Butt of the joke
Paris was the setting (and crime scene) for Paul McCarthy’s provocative public art work, Tree, erected in conjunction with his Chocolate Factory exhibition at La Monnaie de Paris this year. A souvenir of the work is being produced by the artist and French chocolatier Mademoiselle Chocolat during the exhibition.
2. Tribal Instinct
Discover society’s unconscious universality in photographer and flâneur extraordinaire, Hans Eijkelboom’s anti-sartorial publication People of the Twenty-First Century published by Phaidon

3. Desk sculpture
Haute-stationery from Japanese papermaker ITO Bindery for the aspiring curator – the recycled Memo Block is available at Please Do Not Enter

4. Adult Entertainment
Forgo the wood fire and turn up the heat over Robert Lazzarini’s distorted Puzzle series featuring images from 1970s porn - the limited edition of 50 jigsaw puzzles per design are produced by Brooklyn-based creative platform Grey Area

5. Child’s Play
Matt Austin Studio transforms our long-lost ephemera in the bottom of the junk drawer into a witty 8-piece collection of Chalk Ware for use or decoration - from Marc Jacobs Bookmarc

6. Stick your neck out
Be anything but square with this UNIQLO SPRZ NY X Keith Haring art bandana – available at UNIQLO stores worldwide

7. Light on your feet
ICNY defy the no-socks-for-Christmas code with these ‘Original Dot’ 3M reflective performance pair ideal for the urban athlete – available at ICNY Sport

8. Design Digit
For those who couldn’t give a festive f**k this holiday season, Maurizio Cattelan’s L.O.V.E Snow Globe is on (finger) point – available at MoMA Store

9. Model breakfast
Mark 2015’s highly anticipated return of designer John Galliano at the helm of cult fashion house Maison Martin Margiela with these alternative Fortune Eggs for a prosperous and stylish new year – by Maison Martin Margiela
10. Tea-total
Give the gift of wellness with this irresistible blend of loose leaf maté, green tea and lemongrass from the Detox collection at tea emporium Kusmi Tea

Images courtesy of Paul McCarthy, Phaidon, Please Do Not Enter, Grey Area, Marc Jacobs Bookmarc, UNIQLO, ICNY Sport, MoMA Store, Maison Martin Margiela and Kusmi Tea


Downtown Discovery

Earlier this month I ventured to Los Angeles to explore the city’s burgeoning creative scenes setting up in neighbourhoods from East to West across the city. Contemporary art and design activity have been attracting much attention in recent years with artists and designers relocating to LA’s expansive environment of not only matter, but of mind.
Before swapping London’s bitter chill for standard Californian fare of blue skies and November highs in the sun-kissed 80s, I made an appointment to visit a new retail destination located in the city’s urban quarter that is Downtown.  
Please Do Not Enter is a new-level concept store whose name would have been fitting only a few years ago when little life could be found in Downtown after working hours, let alone life-style. Riding the wave of the district’s renaissance, French founders Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird established their boutique-cum-gallery earlier this year and have been tempting customers to its penthouse headquarters filled with unique and exclusive contemporary art, design and fashion by international artisans and designers ever since.

As part of my continuing contributions of hotspots from the worlds of art and design, my visit to Please Do Not Enter is now available to discover on Melting Butter.

Look out for a more in-depth interview with Nicolas and Emmanuel who will feature on Melting Butter’s Curator’s Guide profile where they will discuss their meticulous collection and curation of art and lifestyle goods as well as their personal take on the cultural highlights of the city they now call home.
Follow my Twitter @jmvealrdi and Instagram @jonathanvelardi 
for more on Arts, Culture and Lifestyle from the www and beyond.

I Am Packed

The conceptually pragmatic blog for travellers and OCD-ers alike, I Am Packed recently featured the contents of my luggage before I headed to Los Angeles earlier this month. The site features an array of global travellers represented by their effortless compositions of belongings. From the monochrome to the multicoloured, I Am Packed is more methodical beauty rather than last-minute packing madness. Not to mention a little shameless display of one's wares - yes, that is a Jeff Koons beach towel. 
Find out what’s inside my luggage between LHR and LAX at I Am Packed and look out for future posts reporting on my visit to LA where I explored the alternative art and design scenes across the city here on the blog, my Twitter and Instagram 


Frank Bowling In Conversation

Amidst the Frieze furore of last week that reverberated across all corners of the capital, the stylish tranquillity of The Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy played host to an intimate evening in conversation with the artist and Royal Academician, Frank Bowling, OBE. Ahead of the abstract painter’s major exhibition opening this week at the Spritmuseum, Stockholm – home of the Absolut Art Collection - guests had the pleasure of being introduced to the exhibition’s curator Mia Sundberg, art historian Courtney J. Martin as well as critic and long-term friend of Bowling, Mel Gooding.

Traingone will showcase works produced in the artist’s New York and London studios between 1979 and 1996. The exhibition marks a resurgence of global attention that Bowling has received after his solo exhibition, Focus Display at Tate Britain in 2012.

The evening covered the artist’s colourful career that is famously reflected in his large-scale canvases. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1962, Bowling left London for New York with a “longing to be in literary things” and found his feet within the contemporary literary scene of poets and writers resisidng in the metropolis. It was there Bowling first met fellow Brit Gooding who developed an interest in the artist’s work and his inspiration, which was rooted in the works of great English painters such as Gainsborough, Constable and Turner. Gooding described Bowling at the time of possessing, “an inner knowledge of the works of American artists as a British outsider” while armed with classical foundations. This quality allowed Bowling a freedom to experiment on the canvas unseen before on the New York art scene that saw various influences of geometry and plastic materials manipulated to create sculptural relief on the surface. Charismatically, Bowling describes his practice as being  “intent on making competitive imagery”, which has seen his poetically titled works go on display in a number of prominent international exhibitions and collections throughout his career.
Detail - Traingone (Mahaicony Abary), 1996
Lauded by Gooding as a “master of Colour Field painting’, Bowling’s kelaidescopic-scapes attract the viewer with colour and entice in contextual dynamism – a formula that has proved Bowling’s foresight and endurance in today’s competitive painting market.

The 78 year old artist continues to work between London and New York and is represented by Hales Gallery, London.

Traingone by Frank Bowling, OBE RA opens at the Spritmusem in Stockholm, Sweden on 23rd October 2014 and runs to 6th April 2015.

Follow @JMVELARDI for more on Arts, Culture & Lifestyle


ICA: Off-Site - The Last 3 Years and the Future

The Institute of Contemporary Arts returns to The Old Selfridges Hotel for another year and brings with it a host of international guests for its ICA: Off-Site programme. The concrete carcass of the former residence that sits on the west wing of the luxury department store on Orchard Street sets the scene for an electric schedule of live performance across the mediums of music, art, dance and debate to coincide with Frieze week.
As well as highlights starring Isabel Lewis, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rhizome, last Thursday’s highly anticipated collaborative set between Korakrit Arunanondchai and boychild with AJGvojic commanded block-long queues for the late evening performance.

The Last 3 Years and the Future comprised of four video works accompanied by a live performance centred around a stage that had been decorated with Arunanondchai’s trademark bleached denim canvases. 
The scene in The Old Selfrdiges Hall reflected the current state of young performance art that the Bangkok-born New York-based artist is affiliated with: an unashamed aesthetic clash and sensory overload that parallels our virtual demeanour for information and speed. 
The four video works that span between 2012 and 2014 were collaborative in their construct – another emerging signature of new-age performance art – to create a complex overlapping of narrative and context shot over specific lengths of time and rooted in the artist’s heritage. 
The Future (2014) – the last in the four-part series – is an ongoing feature film shot this summer in collaboration with boychild: an intensely captivating chameleon and performance artist based in Los Angeles. Clips of popular culture television such as talent shows and news feeds are spliced together with cultural landscapes and digitally manipulated imagery over a dynamic score that set the scene for the anticipated live element of the performance. 
The theatrics of strobe lighting and smoke machines - designed by Serbian AJGvojic - created an impressive climax through the various sets to a break in its pace. Arunanondchai and his smoking, denim-clad posse handed over the stage to boychild’s exhilarating body-centric display. A remix cut of TLC’s 1999-hit Unpretty accelerated as the metamorphic artist produced gender-bending shapes and convulsions that played on notions of beauty, androgyny and anarchy shrouded in an apocalyptic haze. 
From Arunanondchai’s denim canvases to boychild’s body-as-canvas and AJGvojic's canvassing of the environment with texture and sound, The Last 3 Years and the Future was a stimulating experience to behold of 'live surface' expression and an exciting insight in the radical directions and influences being explored within contemporary performance art.
View more images and video from the performance The Last 3 Years and the Future by Korakrit Arunanondchai and boychild with AJGvojic on my Tumblr page hashtag-highlife-lowlife.tumblr.com
ICA: Off-Site runs to 18th October 2014 at The Old Selfridges Hotel, above Selfridges Food Hall – click here for a full schedule of live events. Korakrit Arunanondchai’s denim paintings may be viewed at the ICA on The Mall in the group exhibition Beware Wet Paint through to 16th November 2014.

Follow @JMVELARDI for more on Arts, Culture & Lifestyle

Top image courtesy of ICA


Frieze Week: White Cube Escape

With Frieze London now in full swing, it may be impossible to find a tin of white paint anywhere in the capital. With over 160 contemporary galleries featured at this year’s fair, that’s a lot of stands to be transformed into white cube utopias with the prospect of dangerously entering ‘once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all’ territory. If you’re looking for an art fix with a difference, head off-piste from the white-capped surroundings of Regent’s Park with my pick of 5 alternative spaces to view contemporary art set in the surroundings of zoos, hotels and office spaces across the capital during Frieze week:

Paradigm Store at 5 Howick Place

There may be no better location than Victoria to reflect London’s expanding growth – it’s sheer speed perhaps represented by the wind swept public art sculpture by Yinka Shonibare, MBE – aptly titled Wind Sculpture – that resides opposite the vacant commercial space-turned-temporary backdrop for the international group exhibition Paradigm Store. Spread across five floors and 80,000 sq ft, Paradigm Store presents an impressive display of new and recent works by seventeen artists selected by curatorial partnership Tina Sotiriadi and Alistair Howick of HS Projects
Untitled: No Inside, 2014 by Simon Bedwell - variable dimensions
Photo: Sylvain Deleu - Courtesy of the Artist & MOT International
The diverse exhibition explores issues of the decorative and the functional, incorporating a variety of mixed media works that are concerned with the relationship between conceptual art and design. Visiting the exhibition is by appointment only and provides an exceptional opportunity to be personally guided by Sotiriadi and Howick through the compelling installations by artists such as Claire Barclay, Ulla von Brandenburg, Cullinan Richards, Simon Bedwell and David Shrigley.
Paradigm Store continues through to 5th November 2014 at 5 Howick Place SW1 1BH – viewing appointments may be arranged with Allison Thorpe at Sutton PR - allison@suttonpr.com
Little Manhattan, 2007–2009 by Yutaka Sone - marble, 55.2 x 265.1 x 85.1 cm
Photo: Sylvain Deleu- Courtesy of the Artist & David Zwirner Gallery, New York/London

ICA Off-Site: The Old Selfridges Hotel

The dilapidated, concrete carcass of the former Selfridges Hotel in Mayfair plays host to another ICA Off-Site programme from the capital’s pioneering Institute of Contemporary Arts. This year’s event will encompass a dynamic schedule of performance, music, art, dance and discussion presented by both London-based creative platforms and international artists. 
Brooklyn-based artist and curator Isabel Lewis will launch the week-long event that will feature the collaborative performance The Last 3 Years and the Future between New York-based artist Korakrit Arunanondchai with boychild and AJ Gvojic as well as the discussion of art’s function and circulation in our internet age conducted by online arts platform Rhizome.
ICA Off-Site: The Old Selfridges Hotel at 1 Orchard Street W1U 1QZ runs to 18th October 2014 with daily events and live performances.

Angela Bulloch for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

With the art world’s ever-increasing affinity with the luxury sector through collaborations and limited editions, it is no surprise one of the world’s most prestigious motor car manufacturers want to ride the successful art-luxury formula. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have commissioned celebrated artist and Turner Prize-nominee Angela Bulloch to create a new work derived from the properties and scale of the marque’s equally celebrated Phantom model. Cipher of L. is materialised in the artist’s ‘Pixel Box’ aesthetic, emitting coloured light that reflects the manufacturer’s bespoke 44,000 hue-option pallet.
The specially commissioned installation, Cipher of L. by Angela Bulloch will be on show in the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London showroom, 15 Berkeley Square W1J BDT until 23rd October 2014.
Cipher of L., 2014 by Angela Bulloch
Photo: copyright Getty Images - Nicky J Sims

One Man’s Trash (Is Another Man’s Treasure) at 33 Fitzroy Square

A rare opportunity to view the conceptual works from the Danjuma Collection will be on display within the Georgian splendour of 33 Fitzroy Square, near to Regent’s Park, throughout the month of October. Founded by London-based collector Theo Danjuma in 2008, the collection includes over 400 works by established and emerging artists including Wade Guyton, Alex Israel and Dahn Vo. One Man’s Trash (Is Another Man’s Treasure) will explore the idea of found material employed by the artists represented in the collection. Contemporary African art will also feature, providing a unique landscape of global artistic activity.
One Man’s Trash (Is Another Man’s Treasure) will occupy 33 Fitzroy Square W1T 6EU through to 28th October 2014.
BC (3550), 2011 by Ruby Sterling

Cerith Wyn Evans at ZSL London Zoo

With the intentions of creating an exhibition for both human and animal life alike, Cerith Wyn Evans presents his contribution to this year’s Frieze Projects within ZSL London Zoo. The multisensory neon intervention will be installed in the zoo’s Snowdon Aviary, designed by Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon), Cedric Price and Frank Newby.
Cerith Wyn Evans at ZSL London Zoo will be on show during Frieze Art Fair through to 19th October.
Cerith Wyn Evans at ZSL London Zoo for Frieze Projects

Discover this year’s Frieze highlights and new programmes on the Frieze London schedule in my article for London Calling available to read here.


Frieze London

The art world descends on London this week for arguably the highlight in the art market's global calendar. For several weeks Regent’s Park has been at the centre of a hive of activity in preparation for the twelfth edition of Frieze Art Fair. Over 160 leading contemporary galleries and over 1000 artists from around the world will be showcased under a temporary white cube mothership, designed by Barber & Osgerby of London-based Universal Design Studio.
Frieze week is a flâneur’s paradise for not only high quality art but the spectacle of artists, curators, collectors and members of the art cognoscenti who peruse statement gallery stands and jaunt from country to country – travelling as locally between West and East London to as far reaching as the contemporary art quarters of America, Asia and Europe, all within a few stylish steps from one another.

Discover my guide to this year’s schedule at London Calling, the latest platform where I will be contributing arts and culture-related highlights in the capital. Plan your visit to Frieze with my breakdown of the five programmes taking place between 15th and 19th October. From the annual Frieze Projects commissions that will be popping up across several locations on- and off-site to the popular Frieze Sculpture Park featuring international public art works in Regent’s Park as well as old guard creations at Frieze Masters - there is something for every eye at Frieze.

Visit London Calling to read my article Frieze Art Fair: London 2014 in full.
Frieze Film - Baby I Got Better Things To Be Doing With My Time by Cally Spooner

Frieze Art Fair runs from 15th-18th October and Frieze Masters between 15th-19th October in Regent’s Park, London. Access to Frieze Sculpture Park is free to the public.


Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkins

Between the towering cranes and construction that envelope the landscape of East London, a super-sizing of quite another sort may be found behind the walls of Victoria Miro’s Wharf Road gallery. In my latest blog entry for Ohh Deer, I visit a new body of work by visionary artist Yayoi Kusama. A series of three oversized pumpkins lie on the gallery’s enviable water garden – a fitting synergy with the Japanese artist’s longstanding intrigue of the natural world.
Pumpkins, 2014 by Yayoi Kusama - Victoria Miro, Wharf Road gallery London
Pumpkins mark the first time Kusama has worked with bronze on this scale, ranging from knee to head height. The plant has played a prolific role in the eccentric artist’s career – first making an appearance as early as 1948. After over five decades, Kusama affirms there is much more fantasy to be explored with this bulbous form, reinterpreted in her trademark Pop aesthetic that has been revered in major international exhibitions to commercial collaborations with luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton, under the direction of Marc Jacobs, as well as t-shirt graphics for Japanese retailer Uniqlo.

My full review Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins - on show until 19th December 2014 in the Victoria Miro garden - is now available to read on the Ohh Deer blog.

Look out for other public artworks by the artist during Frieze London 2014 at Frieze Sculpture Park in the English Garden in Regent’s Park between 15th - 19th October 2014. 

Follow @JMVELARDI for more on Arts, Culture & Lifestyle

Image courtesy of Victoria Miro


Introducing: Melting Butter

Is it just me or do time and travel never seem to get along? There’s never enough time while you’re away exploring new sights and sounds and when you get back it feels like a lifetime waiting until the next adventure can begin. Despite much technological advancement – of which time travel is not one – if you’ve ever precariously perched out of your hotel window to catch free Wi-Fi out of thin air and punched the words ‘what to do in’ while you’re away from home, then you’re doing it all wrong. Lose the generic travel guides and reviews and by all means get lost; just get lost in the right places. After accumulating a fair amount of mileage on my travels, wandering the streets with only my eyes, ears and sensibility, I’ve amassed an international cultural log of art and design must-sees that I’ve not known what to do with - until now...
I’m very excited to announce I have joined the correspondent team at lifestyle hub Melting Butter. Founded by fellow globetrotter Jenny Nguyen-Barron, Melting Butter is a traveler’s ultimate digital companion, offering a curated online guide from dawn to dusk for explorers in search of the most inspiring and aspiring hotspots in New York and around the world.

As the site’s new arts and culture correspondent I’ll be covering contemporary art and design staples from across the pond in London and the rest of the UK as well as across Europe. Catch up on my latest favourite hotspots including Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Barbican Centre online now.

Follow Melting Butter as I work my way through my travel log of galleries and institutions throughout Europe to make time while you travel last that little bit longer.

Barbican Centre image: Padsyms