Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Recent and (not so) Recent Art Happenings

I think I need an intern. Preferably one who possesses a Masters in marketing. Recently it seems I haven't had the time to update much of anything besides the occasional instagram post, and hence I am sending this tragically belated novel of a catch-up email.

Last year finished out with a wonderful bang, and I had the honor of traveling to Art Basel Week in Miami with Hashimoto Contemporary. I brought along four works which were shown at the Scope Art Fair on the dazzling sand (literally) of Miami beach. 

Drawings by Joel Daniel Phillips at Scope Art Fair, Miami

The show was a wonderful success, and I was ecstatic to hear that my works were sold out as I stepped onto the plane back to San Francisco halfway through the fair week. It was an incredible experience seeing so much of international art world in one place. Having the ability to gain a bird's-eye view of what is currently happening in contemporary art was equal parts inspiring and intimidating.

Inline image 3

I created two life-size works for the show, in addition two 18x24" portraits. The works are continuing my ongoing body of work 'No Regrets in Life'. I particularly enjoyed drawing my second portrait of Spaceman O.T. (on the far right), a recurring subject who has begun to spread his fabulous cult of personality outside of my immediate neighborhood. If you venture through the Tenderloin or Mid-Market neighborhoods soon, be on the lookout for a gruff, wheelchair-bound gentleman with a motorcycle helmet doing something completely contrary to your expectations. These activities include, but are not limited to, directing rush-hour traffic with a rape whistle and sweeping the sidewalk while simultaneously making light-saber noises and humming the Star Wars Theme.

Robert with a Horse. Charcoal and Graphite Drawing on Paper by Joel Daniel Phillips
Robert with a Horse, 100"x72", Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, 2014, Private Commission

The months since Basel have been mostly filled with commissioned work. More than a year ago I was sitting on a milk crate talking to my friend Robert. In the midst of the conversation he paused, pointed over my shoulder to the downtown San Francisco sidewalk, and asked: "do you see that horse?" At that exact moment the unforgettable scent of alfalfa struck my nose. I turned, impossibly expecting that there would somehow be a horse on the busy sidewalk at the corner of 6th and Mission.

I didn't see one, but I'm still not sure whose sense of reality was correct. I've been wanting to make a drawing of Robert with a horse ever since I had this experience. A huge thanks to the collectors for their generous enabling this exploration of perception, imagination and reality.

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I had a blast installing the finished and framed piece in the collector's stairwell. 

The above piece was created from a reference supplied by the collector, and it was fun to work from an image shot by a different set of hands. The subject was a street vendor in Bhutan. I particularly enjoyed working on the luscious folds of his gho (traditional Bhutanese shirt). I was also made a bit jealous of his wonderful hat. If anyone knows where I can purchase one like it I would be ecstatic. 

Nate / Buzzard luck, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper by Joel Daniel Phillips
Nate / Buzzard Luck, 42"x94", Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, 2014, Private Commission

Finally, another recent commission was of Nate, a subject-turned-friend who lives in my back alley. Nate is a U.S. Army veteran, artist and closet philosopher. The piece was accompanied by text with one of my favorite sayings of Nate's: "There's no luck, there's good luck, there's bad luck and there's buzzard luck."


Mar 8 - Mar 29, 2014:  "In Dreams" a David Lynch Tribute |  Spoke Art Gallery  |  San Francisco, CA
June 6 - July, 2014:  Empty Kingdom Group Show  |  111 Minna Gallery  |  San Francisco, CA
Sept 2014: Solo Exhibition | Hashimoto Contemporary | San Francisco, CA

Monday, February 3, 2014

Red Rising: Building the World

Something going on two years ago, I sat down for a glass of scotch and a pipe smoke with my older brother's roommate from college. I had met the infamous Pierce Brown before, but my limited and hasty first impressions led me to a wayward and thoroughly off-base decision that I wasn't much of a fan of this Pierce character.

Several glasses of scotch and two bowls of Matt's Blend later, I realized just how wrong I was. We talked art, dreams, creative visions, and most memorably about Pierce's recently finished novel: Red Rising. We dreamed about creative collaboration, and how someday, once Pierce was published, I would create art for the book. Sigils for colors and paintings of space battles danced in my dreams.

On January 28th, Red Rising was officially offered to the public via Random House. True to his word, Pierce allowed me the honor of helping to visualize some of the world he created, and for the last year+ I've been working with the wonderful folks over at Random House to design elements for the Red Rising book.

I don't normally post my design work on this blog, but it was such a fun project that I thought I might as well.

Red Rising

The first piece I worked on was a poster. Red Rising is set in a world where humanity has spread to colonize the solar system. In this future empire, society is stratified into color coded castes with Golds on top and Reds providing the forced labour that enables the society to function. The project was to design a Gold propaganda poster that has been defaced by 'terror' cell seeking to overthrow the class system.

The next piece I worked on was the map for the interior of the book. The book follows Darrow, a member of the lowest caste in a color-coded society, as a personal tragedy causes him to be thrown into a dangerous quest that requires him to infiltrate the highest caste of society in an effort to take them down from within. This journey lands Darrow in the Elite Gold academy, The Institute, where Gold children are sent to ruthlessly battle each other for domination. Those who come out on top win the best placements and postings throughout the empire.

The children are split up into Houses, and part of the map design was inventing crests for each house. 

Here's a higher quality image of the map as well. 

The next bit of the project was designing sigils for each of the fourteen colors of Pierce's world. Almost colors are rooted in alchemical symbols - Red is tied to the the alchemical symbol or Iron and Mars, Gold off of Gold, and so on. 

The Red Sigil, playing with the
 alchemical symbol for Iron/Mars

The Gold Sigil

The Blue Sigil. Blues are the navigators
and pilots in the spacefaring society.

The White Sigil. Whites are the doctors of
Pierce's world. 

The Violet Sigil. Violets are the
artists and creators in Red Rising.

The Silver Sigil. Silvers are the third tier,
tinpot police and soldiers who keep the lower
colors living in fear. 

A look at all of the color symbols from Red Rising side by side.

The Red Sigil even ended up on the spine of the book!

I've had a complete blast so far working with Pierce and the wonderful folks over at Random House on this project. It's certainly a dream come true, and I'm ecstatic that this is the 1st of a trilogy as I can't want to take a crack at the next two.

A huge thanks to Pierce Brown, Joe Scalora and Caroline Cunningham.

Friday, November 22, 2013

AMC's The Walking Dead

Also belated. below are a few images from the AMC's The Walking Dead show at Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles. 

Daryl Dixon drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips
Daryl  |  42x94in  |  2013  |  Charcoal and Graphite on Paper

For the show I created a lifesize drawing of Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus. It was a blast working on this show, and I was able to be at the opening in person and meet some amazing Los Angeles art aficionados and Walking Dead fans.

Daryl Dixon drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips

Daryl Dixon prints by Joel Daniel Phillips
Limited Edition prints of the Daryl drawing

Hero Complex also made a 40 piece limited edition series of 12x24" prints of my piece for the show. In an exciting turn of events, Norman Reedus (the wonderful actor behind the character as well as Boondock Saints) saw the piece on the interwebs and stopped by the gallery for a print. As of this writing there are a few prints left, located here.

A big thanks to the folks at AMC and the fabulous Adam Smasher of Hero Complex Gallery for inviting me to participate. Stay tuned for more shows with them next year!

Belated Beyond Eden

Far overdue, but better late than never! Here's a quick walkthrough of October's Beyond Eden Art Fair in Los Angeles with Hashimoto Contemporary. The fair was a blast, and included artists from Hashimoto ContemporaryThinkspace GalleryCopro Gallery and C.A.V.E Gallery

Blue with a Bicycle | 60x65in | Charcoal and Graphite on Paper | 2013

Blue is one of the most present members in the social fabric that makes up my neighborhood. Always cruising around the block on his chosen mode of transportation, the 6th and Mission mainstay is a delightful combination of gruff and humor-filled. I met Blue through the talented artist Hugh Leeman, who recently showed an interactive mural work that Blue participated in. Blue and Sam's tent, (below) was a part of the exhibition and gift from Hugh after the exhibit. 

Sam in a Tent | 60x80in | Charcoal and Graphite on Paper | 2013

Sam, Blue's partner, balances Blue's gruffness with a quiet calm. During the initial photo-shoot while Blue danced around swinging his bicycle chain and grinning his ears off, Sam watched quietly with a patient smile. My goal with this diptych was to capture the dynamic interplay between the two. 

Clarissa, Sleeping | 18x24in | Charcoal and Graphite on Paper | 2013

Bernard, Sitting | 16x24in | Charcoal and Graphite on Paper | 2013

For the show I also created two smaller-scale pieces continuing the same series as Sam and Blue. The series, titled Home, is an ongoing exploration of the way Homeless individuals use objects to retain a sense of ownership of their spaces. Feel free to read the full series statement here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Califas opening at Intersection for the Arts

I was recently asked to participate in a really exciting show at one of San Francisco's oldest art spaces, Intersection for the Arts. Califas, a group show exploring the communities that make up California, opened on October 2, and runs through December 21st. 

For my part of the show I brought three life-size works - a new drawing as well as two pieces created last spring. 

(L) Heather, 2011 (Center) Napalm, 2013 (R) Unknown No. 1, 2011

About the show:

If California were a country, as of 2012 it would have been the 9th largest economy and the 34th most populous nation in the world. California is the most populous state in the United States, home to 1 out of 8 Americans. This exhibition is inspired by the countless stories and people that make up the state – from the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz to residents a block away on the corner of 6th and Mission Streets, from a senior synchronized swimming team in Orange County to a youth Scraper Bike Team in East Oakland. Califas features work by Andrea Blum, California is a Place: A Documentary Project by Drea Cooper & Zackary CanepariMia NakanoJoan OsatoJoel Daniel PhillipsSF Postcard Project, and Jenifer K. Wofford & Kyle Herbert.

More information can be found here.

Napalm, 42x94in, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, 2013

Heather, 42x94in, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, 2011

Unknown No. 1, 42x94in, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, 2011

The pieces are a part of my ongoing series 'No Regrets in Life', (see and read more here) exploring the fragmentation of society and the way individuals deal with ostracisation.

A big thanks to Intersection for the Arts for including my work in the show and to Ken Harman of Spoke Art Gallery for his generous lending of Heather for the exhibition. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Self portrait after Leloir: NSFW

I recently completed this drawing after some 4 months of it hanging in process on my studio wall. It was a bit of a labour of love as it's not particularly for any show/body of work, but more of a technical and emotional exploration.

A third of the way into the drawing the paper fell off the wall and was too damaged to repair so I had to start over - subjecting my poor studiomates to a couple more months of seeing my me naked (twice) every time they walked in to the loft. Sorry, guys.

Drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips
Self Portrait After Leloir, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, Approx 6x8ft.

Alexander Louis Leloir
Jacob Wrestling the Angel, Oil, Alexander Louis Leloir, 1865
Drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips
Detail. My favorite bit ended up being the hand on the chin and the cast shadow from the forearm. 
The drawing is lifesize, (approx 6x8ft) and was an attempt to explore the tension between current and past understandings of faith and religion. The image is a loose recreation of Alexander Louis Leloir's incredible panting Jacob Wrestling the Angel (1865).
Drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips
Detail 1. My favorite bit ended up being the hand on the chin and the cast shadow from the forearm. 

Drawing byJoel Daniel Phillips
Detail 2

It was a really fun technical exercise to do a self portrait, it'd been a while since I'd done that. I photographed me wrestling my younger brother and then changed his face and differentiated features to my own when drawing. 

My sincere apologies if my nakedness scarred anyone. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro

Travis Bickle has a way of taking over the room.
Ken Harman, curator over at the fabulous Spoke Art Gallery, asked me a couple months back to make some work for the gallery's upcoming Martin Scorsese tribute show in New York.

Scorsese: an art tribute opens tonight at Bold Hype gallery in NYC, and runs through the weekend.

For the show I made two pieces. First, a lifesize charcoal and graphite drawing of Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver.

Turns out De Niro has nice lats. 

The original will be accompanied by a limited edition run of 12x24in prints, available first at the show and then after via Spoke Art's website.

Stoked on how the deckled edges of the prints turned out. 

Robert Di Nero
At the opening

Drawing by Joel Daniel Phillips
Humbled to be in such illustrious company

75 artists contributed work resulting in a total over 150 pieces. Wish I could have seen it in person. 

The second piece was a bit smaller. I decided to try and tackle a portrait of Martin Scorsese himself, while attempting to avoid the standard sort of approach taken to images of him.

Charcoal & Graphite on paper,  19x24in 

Word on the street is that Scorsese may actually stop by the show! If you live in the vicinity of NY, the show will be a total blast and you should stop by and check it out. Details are here.

Thanks to Nicolas Guerin for the reference material.

**Addendum: Mr. Scorsese himself did indeed stop by the show. He also generously purchased my portrait of him.