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TODD SIMMONS

BUY “BLACK”

I see art as an expression of the artist, through their chosen medium, this definition extends to all things created by a person or persons. A dancer dances because she or he has something to express or ‘say’ to their world that can not be put in to words to form a poem or sculpted in clay etc.

Governments, politicians and special interest groups have often commissioned artists to help speak to the people, spread their message and push their agenda.

For this series, I examined the works of each of  two Hip Hop artists and asked “What are the most prevalent themes in their most current body of work? What is their overall message?” Simply put, what are they trying to ‘say’ to the world and what special interest group could benefit from the messages these artists are putting out?

My comparisons and possible conclusions may seem hyperbolic. But the artists and companies responsible for putting the messages out in to the world should not be judged by the intention but by the effect. Countless people of African decent living in North America (myself included) are forced to navigate through the hurtful notions, about what it means to be ‘black’ perpetuated by these artists all the while working to challenge and change them.

The question of conspiracy has been raised and dismissed so often that it seems to be a non issue, but the private sector is hardly known for being haphazard in it’s decision making. There are committees, departments, and in some cases, whole firms dedicated to ensuring that every detail of operation is finely tuned and focused on one goal, profit.

Knowing that music is big business, I find it difficult to believe in the innocence of anyone who would turn profit from the glorification of the worst problems in any community.

The title comes from the “Buy American” (and later “Buy Black”)  posters from WW2. The movement that has sprung up on several periods in history encouraging members of  the community to support American businesses. (Strange since last year alone 60 percent of the value of goods sold in the U.S. was imported.) It became a slogan on many pro war, pro American propaganda posters.

I hope to challenge fans of these artists to re-think their possible position in the cycle.

What are you buying in to? When buying ‘black’.

RYAN MACHAN

BIO

Ryan Machan gives us a contemporary look on where today’s man stands in the modern world. He is a self taught artist that continues to question the way we judge success, despite being scrutinized for doing so. His life’s body of work, so far, includes several mediums: film, silkscreen and paint, to name a few.

Ryan’s work has been seen in store front window displays, television, newspaper, several art shows and can currently be seen at Museum London in London, Ontario where he resides. Most recognized by his large canvas pieces with vibrant use of colour, often his signature image of the unevolved ape-man, and words that by some could be taken with offense. He is not timid about forcing viewers to question themselves or to show his own frustrations. Begging to answer, when man is stripped down to raw emotion, have they really evolved so much? No matter, his art commands attention.

His latest experiment is that of portrait style pieces, now the next step in his growth as an artist. Whether it be in the strength of his brush strokes or the rawness of his images, he is always struggling to figure out his (or man’s) relationship with fellow man, the world itself and, of course, the opposite sex. Ryan’s ever changing direction and the guts to follow through always keeps both critics and followers intrigued to see more.

NEP SIDHU

Nep is  interested in exploring the way in which memory and personal experience can give way to myth. Primarily using language, architecture, adornment as a reference point.

This myth language uses the visible universe as a metaphor for the invisible, a communication between the world and the spirit of our individual perspective.

ANDREW GAVIN HICKS

MAN DIP LITE

Although this title sounds like a Chinese brunch special, this series of work has nothing to do with Asian cuisine. For the past 15 years, flyering and and postering for DJ events has been an integral part of self promotion in my life. Today people rely more and more on digital advertising and the art form of the flyer has dwindled. Man Dip Lite not only celebrates the work of such early Hip-Hop flyer designers such as Buddy Esquire and Phase 2 but also the reveals the methods of creating posters such as screen printing, hand painting, photocopying, and cut and paste collage and the various ways posters are presented on the poles and boards on the streets using staples, tape and sticky tack.

Original photographs taken at various venues through I have DJ’ed at over the last 15 years are transformed with photographs taken from the late 70’s and early 80’s hip-hop, disco, and post punk era, and are melded together with the influences of not only the original flyer makers but also the work of  original street and pop art icons such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Basquiat.

BIO

Andrew Gavin(Hicks)  desperately wanted to work for MI6 when he was a kid, despite various attempts by his father to turn him into an accountant (“you’ll always have a job”).  He tried to train Jedi’s in his backyard, made copious amounts of mix tapes for his friends, and almost became a soccer star, but smoking and drinking that came with a stellar DJ career derailed all of that.

Following an intense passion for film, but in his own words, didn’t know a Monet from a Mondrian, decided that he should go for a less conventional film education and has received his BA in INTEGRATED MEDIA, … more like constantly and consistently starting new projects at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) in Toronto Ontario, Canada as of May, 2010.  He has tried to master photography, screen printing, and design all on his own and of course has taken every conceivable film course the school has to offer.

Deciding that he is not ready for the real world combined with the uncomfortable position of being an artist in an anemic economic market, Andrew will add to his academic achievements by completing a MASTERS OF CINEMATIC STUDIES at the University Of Western Ontario while working on a second short film based on the prolific downtown New York art/music/video scene of the late 1970′s and early 80′s.