A LETTER FROM OUR DIRECTOR ABOUT OUR AUCTION TONIGHT
As many of you know, I’ve been pouring my soul into a space in DTLA for the last damn-near-four-years, with the goal of bridging the gap between amazing art on the opposite side of social line of the elite and the rest of us who don’t have access to it.
During Coffeegraph we met an auctioneer with a similar idea in mind, and we teamed up with him to help launch his brand. A few months of work and a newly formed branding package later, we are here to invite you to our first auction.
The auction will at once provide an inside scoop on artists who are investing as much work as possible into creating value in their canvases for serious collectors, and give access to the most exciting arena in the high art world – the auction - for those who might not otherwise come across the opportunity to learn about how value is assigned to an artist’s career.
It will be educational and exciting. And even revolutionary (with a crazy performance piece with a few seats up for bidding).
If you’re around tonight, come by. It’s free, of course!
1:01 pm • 17 April 2014 • 2 notes
A WELCOME LETTER TO ALL YOU BANDWAGON NEW YORKERS JUMPING SHIP TO LA
I’ve been in the process of writing this welcome letter for a long time. My best friend is moving to New York (she loves to go against the grain), and I just started reading Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty because we are starting a collaboration with an art auction company (Bid27) and I got inspired to finally pick it up off my shelf after I kicked my Bukowski habit (I was clearing The Last Bookstore’s “local writers” section). Martin describes a beautiful, artsy NYC of yesterday. But what really set me over the edge to finally sit down and write this thing out was this old article that was re-brought up after VICE recently did a San Fran version.
I mention Bukowski partly because he defines why LA is amazing in so many ways, but mainly because of how strange it is that New Yorkers who idealize his worldviews somehow still retain some idea that LA is only full of the glamour and fame-chasing he hated, despite the fact that he stayed in LA til the bitter end. Well, Bukowski hated everything, but he loved the grit and real-talk that New Yorkers think LA lacks, and he found plenty of it here. You can, too.
Martin’s utopian artist-centered NYC in An Object is ceasing to exist, it seems. Even the hard-knock life that builds character and separates the boys from the men, the ideal embodied in the book, is gone. In its place is an impossible-to-achieve pipe dream and a yearning for yesteryear, replaced by billionaires on Park Ave dictating the new way of the Big Apple, one where artists can’t afford to live and create. What’s worst of all is that the certain sense of pride I once heard from New Yorkers, where they would never leave the city under any circumstances, is gone. And they are abandoning the East Coast in droves, following the likes of David Byrne, Moby, and all the others in this crazy trend of abandonment inspired by this book, in favor of cities like Portland, Chicago, and even the much-hated LA.
It makes sense, actually, with a mayor who literally said these words out loud at his last public speech on the arts: “Of course I live in Los Angeles - the most creative place that’s ever existed on the face of the planet.” That might have been pushing it a bit, but his point is that America’s number one export is now culture, and there is no place that exports more movies, music, television, comedy, and so on than Los Angeles. NY, even your curators are moving here, and we are giving you your own neighborhood called the “media district.”
With this Wild West mentality of the up-and-coming DIY space scene in the industrial areas at the south of our Downtown (also being bought up by gigantic names in the East Coast gallerist community), not to mention the fastest-growing Downtown in the country and an intention to keep our gorgeous Art Deco architecture intact throughout it all, with an established history of mutli-faceted showbiz creators being tossed into the middle of it with brand new ideas that would never make it in the set-in-their-ways nature of the New York galleries (plus a necessity to entertain in a culture survived by a new age of comedians-turned-podcast hosts and writers-turned-web series producers who are all dabbling in physical spaces now), it’s not uncommon to hear older crowds mention that the city reminds them of New York when they were “coming up.”
In combination with the fact that you’re no longer disowned from your family when leaving New York, since there is a widespread understanding that the city no longer caters to you for a dependence on pushing culture to the next plateau, what all of this means is that LA is the new city where if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. We’re fighting hard to work legitimate art into what we’re already producing, and take the title as number one exporter of arts culture both in the country and the world. So if you’re planning to move here, there are a couple of things to prepare for, and a couple of myths to dispel immediately.
First off, our public transportation sucks, but not as bad as you think. We’re adding subway accessibility by the minute, and the busses actually do pretty damn well. Still, for now, you’ll need a car. But if you’re coming from New York, you want to live and work in Downtown anyway, most likely. It’s an exciting and busy place, and it’s the best place to avoid the dream-chasers of Hollywood that would rather be famous than talented.
And if you want to fall in love with LA, you need to learn to find a community pretty quickly. The cool thing about the second-biggest city int he country is that we are full of the best of the best in literally every possible field of interest, so you definitely can find people to inspire you. Like any city, it’ll take exactly 18-24 months to get your wits about you, but as long as you are actively seeking the right folks to be around you, you won’t meet too many actors who you’re imagining right now when you imagine someone who is totally “LA.” A general rule of thumb is that a lot of those people live or hang out in Hollywood, and they can be referred to as totally “Hollywood” instead, much more accurately. A lot of times they’re also proud of that fact.
Don’t go clubbing in Hollywood unless you’re really trying to experience that life. One of the things people are afraid of when leaving NY is that they won’t find the interesting supper clubs, pop up shops/restaurants/cafes/boutiques, and lecture series’. But they’re here in droves, and you could find a new group of people partying in a way that will contribute to building world-revolutionizing ideas every single night if you wanted to.
Still, note that at these dinner parties you’ll find out that LA is a city whose residents have no problem talking huge amounts of shit on their home. Even those born and raised here acknowledge the things that suck about LA. Don’t take this the wrong way, it’s just some weird apathetic hipster mentality that people keep to retain their air of coolness. I don’t get it either, but I’m from Sacramento, and people hated my town. Still, a city like yours has (or had) a huge amount of pride, and you’re probably not used to talking about your home as such. But they mean well. They’re just calling it like they see it, often because they’re pissy that they haven’t landed their big gig yet.
Los Angeles rewards exploration, and is a land of sprawl. There is too much to do every single day, but you need to get out there and do it. It’ll be intimidating at first, but do it anyway. Get into movies. It’ll help a lot, and there is a new, free debut and Q&A every weekend somewhere. And kick it downtown. Not enough Angelenos know about this insanely inspiring place, despite how insanely inspiring it is becoming at a rapid pace.
For every article someone is writing about how they finally built up the gall to jump ship, I’m sure there are five more who consider that person a pansy who couldn’t cut it that they don’t want clogging their public transport anyway, but I’m here to tell you that you can find everything you loved about NYC (except the concept of winter) and more, like beaches you actually wanna be at and amazing tacos. The idea of moving across the country to California to make your dreams come true is completely, 100% valid, and all you have to deal with is a Scientologist or yoga-obsessed new age hippy or two. And as long as you can find your nice little community without a sense of pretense, you’ll love being here.
1:01 pm • 15 April 2014 • 4 notes
BID27, DTLA’S EXCITING NEW EMERGING ARTS AUCTION, OPENS ON THURSDAY
Beginning on Thursday of this week, Think Tank Gallery is opening a new chapter in the long history of our building in the Fashion District. We’ve teamed up with an award-winning auctioneer and his new emerging arts auction project Bid27 to bring the most exciting platform in the arts to what we aspire to make into the most exciting arts space in DTLA.
We have an internal motto at the Think Tank that we look to push a “blue collar feel with a high art appeal,” and this philosophy imbues a necessity for discovering and pushing new artists. The goal of Bid27 is not to hook and reel in undiscovered talent and trap them forever in the cage of our gallery, but to develop an artist’s reach into a previously inaccessible market of the art auction, then push them along to better and higher places while we find the next brilliant mind to expose to the world.
Bid27 also supports alternative art platforms like the performance, installation, and video art, auctioning off seats to viewers to directly support the genres for a large communal but nominal individual amount. The entire system is made to be internally supportive, giving collectors a chance to find great, hand-picked artists at entry-level price points and directly supporting these artists’ careers, in turn increasing the value of their sales and giving the artists a chance to continue upping their value and pushing into new markets.
And speaking of markets, every artist in the Bid27 network also has access to art lawyers, grant writers for public art projects, and art framers. The whole thing is a benefit auction for the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, to top it off.
We’re excited to see where this all takes us, and we hope to see you here on Thursday for the launch party.
1:01 pm • 14 April 2014 • 5 notes
A MUTILATION IN PERFORMANCE OF THE AGING BODY
We’re currently showing an exhibit involving 101 vaginas of various ages, shapes, and upkeep. The show is a comment on body image, and it becomes obvious that the taboos are not killed when we hear things like “ew, vaginas. That’s gross.” The show closes this weekend, so you should come by if you haven’t yet.
A recent piece involving female artists who have a much more dramatic approach to body image than our show are interested in the same topic.
This was “Balancing on the Edge/Age,” a work addressing societal views of menopause and old age by Mexican artistRocio Boliver, also known as La Congeleda de Uva, with Spanish artist Begoña Grande.
Hyperallergic reports that the show involved fishing line sewn through these naked women’s skin, who then pulled at one another to rip the flesh of the other lady while audiences looked on, sometimes sobbing uncontrollably.
The piece became sexual, remained violent, and turned sad. Dripping a steady stream of blood, it culminated in an audience confrontation and kiss.
You can see the entire play-by-play here.
1:01 pm • 11 April 2014 • 3 notes
A ROLLABLE POSTER THAT PLAYS MUSIC WHEN YOU TOUCH IT
Every time Coachella rolls around, crazy awesome stuff like this grabs our attention. It doesn’t make that much sense combined with a spice company since taste is one of the few senses not activated by this amazing art+tech mashup, but we’re thankful to Schwartz nonetheless for funding this amazing, rollable poster that can play music on your phone when you run your fingers across it.
Illustrator Billie Jean was invited to create a visual articulation of what taste might look like. Each herb and spice depicted in the artwork was then assigned a musical chord matching its flavour characteristic. For example, cumin became E flat major, chilli was ascribed A flat major and fennel was characterised by a higher pitched F minor. The image was then back-printed with an innovative conductive ink, effectively giving the poster capacitive touch technology. When paired with a mobile device via Bluetooth, the poster becomes an interactive musical instrument.
Check out more on the amazing poster here.
1:01 pm • 10 April 2014 • 289 notes
TWITTER SWOOPS IN WITH REDESIGN AS FACEBOOK DESTROYS ITS ADVERTISING ENGAGEMENT
People have been leaving Facebook advertising in droves. One of the most significant departures was Eat24, who recently deleted their massively-followed, essentially useless Facebook page after writing this breakup letter about how their fans couldn’t even see the things they were trying to show off. They weren’t crying wolf. They left Facebook because it’s almost impossible to engage your fans anymore due to Facebook’s advertising decisions. Others are on the bandwagon of disbelief too, like HiddenLA and Booooooom (whose post “End of Facebook” ironically has a “Best of Instagram” banner right at the top).
We recently confronted our own disbelief when our Facebook followers jumped in the thousands, but our engagement plummeted, often to just one like per post, often by the same dude every time (our new partner at Bid27, cuz he’s a sweetheart). Facebook built the Think Tank brand. We didn’t want to abandon it. But the fact is that Tumblr and Instagram are primarily how people are finding us nowadays and keeping up with us. Ironically, the only posts that get any traction are the ones that come directly from Instagram. If Tumblr allowed a “post to Facebook” option for pages, then maybe we’d see more engagement there, as well.
Baffled, we began looking into the issue and realized we weren’t the only ones. Many brands, like Eat24, had built their audience on a platform that simply isn’t what it used to be, and are struggling to make their relationship with Facebook work while Facebook continues to screw them over. One of our founders had a similar experience with this, when YouTube revamped their subscription service, and his 18k subscribers dropped to just a few hundred engaged, so we somewhat knew how to deal with this: just move on and adapt.
But there’s a difference, because YouTube is a platform that has a ton of growth in front of it for BOTH advertisers AND creators. Facebook seems to have maxed out, and doesn’t have many places to turn. Hence, the growth in popularity of platforms like Instagram.
It comes down to the combination of an algorithm that means very well, and Facebook’s failed (or faked) attempts to kill “like farms.” This extremely valuable and astonishingly free YouTube video breaks it down, but basically what it comes down to is that Facebook tries to curate what we see on our News Feeds by fielding each post to a handful of our “likers.” They mean well, because if those who see a particular post don’t like or comment, then Facebook stops spreading it to others, and kind of lets the post fall into the background.
The problem comes in where Facebook gives creators the opportunity to expand their brand by paying for promotion on their page. When this happens, “like farms” in places like India swoop in and like thousands of pages, making our fan base a useless, engageless black hole, and ensuring that every post we put up will sink into the algorithm’s graveyard ever since we spent a couple hundred dollars on a page promotion for likes two years ago.
Worst of all, there is no way to fix this, and with Facebook’s new, morally-questionable decision to let personal accounts promote their posts now (why would anyone want to do this, unless they are using their personal account for brand marketing, which Facebook is supposedly against?), the problem will only get worse.
Facebook is trying to expand, but they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Enter Twitter. The social network is revamping their efficient design to look a lot more like Facebook, but on a platform that hasn’t yet destroyed itself through questionable advertising tactics.
We’re most interested in a well-known website swooping in to capitalize on an obvious blunder by the biggest website in the world than we are about the redesign itself, but you can see what you think in one of the countless news stories on this redesign here. You can also see another, extremely useful video about the Facebook dilemma creators are all having at Veritasium’s channel.
1:01 pm • 9 April 2014 • 3 notes
ENTREPRENEURS WHO “MADE IT” WHEN THEY WERE OLD PEOPLE
I just saw a girl celebrating her 21st birthday on Facebook the other day. She had grown up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and only recently began celebrating birthdays after denouncing her faith. She was anxiety-stricken, claiming that every birthday since she started celebrating them has been a disaster. But, after a few posts about this, her real source of stress came out: she had moved to LA under the conditions that she would allow herself until 23 to “make it.”
Aside from 23 being your Jordan year, and the one that will surely be one of your most formative, and one that you will leave as a wholly different person that you entered (more Jordan references in the original post of these infographics), it’s also an unreasonably short distance from the age (18) that you’re allowed to begin making decisions in this society. And even shorter from the age (21) that you’re able to convince potential mentors to come out for a drink to try to suck some knowledge out of them. Before I denounced this dumbass philosophy that I should have “made it” by a specific distance from my moment of birth or my rebirth in the City of Angels, I think my number was 25. I am going on 27 now, and if I met myself at 25 I would probably say no to his offer to take me to a drink and suck some knowledge out of me. Well, maybe I would entertain my 25-yr-old self for an hour or so, but the 23-yr-old me would have no chance. And that kid was definitely very far away from “making it.”
With every Richard Branson biography or Robert Greene book or Steven Pressfield philosophy I read, I realize that the further you get away from your childhood, the stronger your chances of success get, not the other way around. The hard part is maintaining the naivety that childhood pertains. But, if you can stay foolish enough to think that you can be the one that makes your big idea work, you can.
Anna Vital of Funders and Founders has taken a bunch of examples of the fools who were dumb enough to make it, and compiled them into a series of infographics that will keep your spirits up if you let them.
The rest of the post, which you can see here, even personifies the struggle before the achievement of your goals.
You got these.
1:01 pm • 7 April 2014 • 58 notes
A COFFEE SHOP BUILT INTO A GIANT ROLLEIFLEX CAMERA
In a move that takes all of our dreams from our past shows and combines them into one massive, amazing building, a former helicopter pilot for the South Korean airforce built this walk-in camera that doubles as a coffee shop and miniature camera museum. It’s just outside Seoul, South Korea, and The Dreamy Camera it’s so cool it looks fake. There are more photos of the amazing place on their blog.
1:01 pm • 4 April 2014 • 18 notes
SLEEPY SUN & WAX CHILDREN AT THINK TANK GALLERY - REVIEW
Rabbits Black and Thief Presents offered up an amazing party last week with this psych rock warehouse event to prepare for the much-hyped Psycho De Mayo festival.
Rabbits Black has written up a wonderful review on the show that Evan of Thief put together:
We’ve always had a soft spot for the San Francisco based psych-rockers, but Friday definitely solidified our fondness for their musical journey. Easily flowing between the cosmos with huge hooks and giant riffs, Sleepy Sun is a band that can bring people in to appreciate their music from various genres. Their music is a bridge between the fuzzy lo-fi stoner bands and the bands that find themselves considered purely rock by their clean vocals and accessible sound.
You can see more about the party at the full write-up, and get excited for the coolest psych rock fest in Southern California this Spring.
1:01 pm • 3 April 2014 • 6 notes