Esquire on the meaning of “paraben-free”

a48665d90en jack.jpg Esquire on the meaning of “paraben free” terrible things personal parabens medicine malicious lotion as long independent headlines halt the growth flash video flash everyman jack culture citrus report art

We use Everyman Jack products because our significant other tells us we have to use grooming products that are “paraben-free,” because parabens give you cancer. So then Esquire did some research for us and found…

Surveying the drug-store shelves, we’ve noticed that brands which make shave creams, deodorants, and moisturizers are increasingly ditching parabens — a group of preservative chemicals that’s been used in creams and lotions for the last 70-odd years. Unless you’re obsessed with reading labels (which, let’s be honest, you are not), you have probably never even heard of these. Until, of course, companies began to tell you they’re no longer using them. Should you even care?

Well, they have been found in terrible things like cancer tumors. More so, there exists evidence that they’re bad for the planet once washed off — waste manage facilities have been unable to clean them, and that’s led to them being found in fish and other sea life. Still, no scientist has yet proven that parabens cause the negative effects — breast cancer, testicular cancer, obesity, a lower sperm count — with which they’ve been associated. And, ironically, parabens were originally added to grooming products in order to halt the growth of nasty bacteria and other malicious microbes that would otherwise love to develop within the dark and moist confines of your medicine cabinet. Most recently, in March, the Independent Cosmetics Ingredient Review (which the FDA cites) deemed that parabens are safe.

Still, if you’re at all concerned, there’s good news: Personal lubricant companies seem to be the category-leader in removing this stuff from their products. And, more seriously, ingredients like grapefruit seed extract and potassium lactate have also been found to protect products from bacterial growth. These new solutions won’t preserve your lotion as long as the parabens might, but they are mostly being used in higher-quality grooming products you’ll want to burn through pretty quick anyway.

Painting, Bombing, and Buffing LA’s Freeways: Lecture @ Los Angeles Public Central Library

89eb0940e900x450.jpg Painting, Bombing, and Buffing LA’s Freeways: Lecture @ Los Angeles Public Central Library photography photo friends photo personal Los Angeles headlines citrus report art angeles public

Straight from South Willard’s great blog:

Sat, May 12th ~ 2pm
Los Angeles Public Central Library

Stefano Bloch will discuss the birth, life, and slow death of L.A.’s iconic Olympic Festival freeway murals. His talk is based on in-depth ethnographic research conducted on the graffiti community and historical research conducted on L.A.’s Chicano and mainstream muralist traditions. Bloch argues that two decades of bad policy, belligerent graffiti abatement, and combative freeway bombers conspired to turn aesthetically inviting freeway walls into alienating beige eyesores. He will also be showing images from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection and sharing excerpts from his personal archive of interviews, images, and reflections that focus on the appearance of L.A.’s public walls.

Sponsored by the Photo Collection and the Art, Music, & Recreation Department, presented by Photo Friends

Parking is available at 524 S. Flower St. Garage (show your LAPL library card at the Central Library’s information desk to receive a validation for reduced rates). Handicap accessibility available.

Los Angeles Public Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium
630 W Fifth St
Los Angeles, CA, 90071

From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Merkley???

f9207d7d05ure 10.png Merkley??? work style random plans photos photography personal News models

James Pawlish talks to San Francisco photographer Merkley??? about his influences, nudity, Mormons and new book entitled ZZZ??? Zebras, Zeppelins & Zucchinis.

JP:Who is Merkley??? Tells us a little bit about your personal life and upbringing.

Merkley???: Hey, that’s ME! I’m Merkley??? I grew up Mormon in Utah with two step moms, two step dads and 17 siblings some of whom share DNA and others who are merely Steps a.k.a “invaders”.

I am The Heavyweight Sleep Champion of The World and I eat my own weight in mexican food every 20 minutes. Old Faithful ain’t got shit on me.

Even though I make pictures of mostly naked people, the subject of sex or eroticism still gives me the heegeebeegees.

Yes I reinvented that word to pay proper homage to The Bee Gees without whom I would be completely lost fashion wise. Blame nobody but yourselves. Blame nobody but yourselves.

BTW, I am STILL technically a Mormon. I think that’s pretty fucking cool.

I baptized people in Brazil you know, Yeah, LOTS even. I’m still good friends with my favorite missionary companion there. He is now married… to a MAN.

I think he too is still technically Mormon.

You asked.

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You have a pretty unique sense of style? Where do you get those three piece corduroy suits of yours? I heard you have a different color one for every day of the week.

Ha, this means I get to talk more about The Bee Gees. I have stolen most everything I am from those fine brothers and you know what? My father claims that we are RELATED to them. I know right? I can’t prove it but there certainly are a LOT of Gibbs in the bloodline. From Whales even. I don’t know if the Gibbs in the Bee Gees have welsh ancestry, I’m told they do but you can google if you want.

Anyway, yeah I actually have 31 suits all the same. There is a nice lady in Hoi An Vietnam that makes them for me. We do everything over yahoo video chat. You all can Skype as much as you want but Thuy ‘n I like to keep it old school.

I once talked with her about The Bee Gees when she was making the pattern for the first suit.

I wasn’t planning on this being so much about The Bee Gees, I swear.

1adcd5bf03ture 3.png Merkley??? work style random plans photos photography personal News models

A lot of your photos incorporate props and uniquely crafted installations. How would describe your creative process?

You know how when you are five years old, Mormon, upper lower class and you don’t have a lot of toys so you play with groceries, sticks, bugs, cardboard boxes, dead rodents, dead batteries, dead plants, Broken radios, Upside down TV’s, neighbors pets and stuff from your mom’s closet?

No?

Well it’s exactly like that.

e304738347ture 6.png Merkley??? work style random plans photos photography personal News models

Your work has this sarcastic/fuck you attitude to it that’s hilarious. Tells us about this side of your personality.
I have no idea what “sarcastic” means.

My turn to Google. hold on.

Ok, I just read what that means and FUCK YOU for saying it.

I’m totally sincere about everything always and forever infinity.

ecf64605ebture 7.png Merkley??? work style random plans photos photography personal News models

When did you first pick up a camera. How has your style evolved over the years?

I’m guessing I probably picked on up as a baby at some point although I probably just slobbered on it and tossed it just out of reach. Then I probably crapped my pants and cried.

I don’t remember much about my infancy so lets skip ahead to the year 2000 when I bought a palm pilot attachment that let me make digital photos that were about 300

Coffee with 40x Caffeine

a002abf9c7fee550.jpg Coffee with 40x Caffeine work regulations personal imagination heart attack funranium labs earth done the most culture coffee caffeine coffee caffeine 40 times the caffeine

A Bay Area scientist has gone and done the most irresponsible thing a scientist can do: created coffee with 40 times the caffeine of regular drip. The drug is called Black Blood of the Earth and is the creation of Funranium Labs’ Phillip Broughton. He says via email to SF Weekly:

“It is my job to make sure people work with radioactive materials and radiation producing machines (i.e. x-rays and accelerators) without hurting themselves or others. On campus, I am specifically responsible for the machines, radiation detection instrumentation, special nuclear material and…well…weird shit. When something strange is found in storage closet or research applications start wildly exceeding the imagination of the regulations, you call me.

An example: the personal papers of Marie Curie are a treasure, but Marie & Pierre were a bit messy in their work. All of their lab papers were soaked with radium solutions. They are a special collection that the library must curate, but they’re also contaminated to high heaven with radioactive material. Tricky, but fun for a given value of fun.”


From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Stacey Rozich

51b9b0798e05x806.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design

Fine artist and illustrator Stacey Rozich makes work inspired from many different folk and indigenous traditions that is very unique.  There is just something about the beastly shamanic figures that pulls the viewer directly into the scene.  Many of the images conceal emotions and angst behind beautiful renderings of mask and costume.  Her precise use of color and gesture articulate these emotions perfectly.  Not every image is so heavy, some are friendly and whimsical, some make you think, while others make you laugh.  Stacey’s unique ability to connect with her viewers on a personal and emotional level, are what sets her work apart. —Ronnie Wrest / The Citrus Report

What does a normal day look like for you right now?

I’m sort of in an odd transitional state right now: I just finished up design school here in Seattle and immediately (literally at 7 am the next morning) I caught a flight out to Georgia, then went to Los Angeles and now am back. I’m still reeling and trying to gather my brains so I can get started on a mountain of work that has been waiting for me. Since my days are trying to re-adjust themselves, I’ll give you what I’d like a normal day to look like for me. Wake up around 8 am, fix myself a little something to eat then get to some e-mailing. Probably check out a few of my favorite blogs (Forme-foryou.comNomealone.Blogspot.com, Design Sponge, among others), watch a couple kitty videos and then see whats on the project roster for the day. If I’m on schedule with my work I’ll allow myself to go out that evening and meet friends for a drink or watch a movie. If I’m off, well, you can bet I am not leaving this table until I am finished or I am in big trouble.

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You obviously welcome being busy, but is there a limit? Do you like having multiple projects going at once?

The last two years of juggling a really intense school program with still trying to stay relevant in my personal work was tough and really showed me what a busy schedule would do to my life. Luckily, after some snappy outbursts at roommates, family, etc. I have perservered and found a good balance to work and not being a lunatic. I think I might be addicted to the busy, if I find I’m not as busy I actually get panicked and don’t know what to do with myself. It’s interesting how the psyche can adjust to one pace of working and can go into malfunction mode once it’s diverted. I do enjoy working on several projects at once because it really pushes me to expand my inspiration and creativity to different places I didn’t even know I could go.

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I know you put a lot of research into work.  What are a couple traditions that have inspired your work lately?

While I was in LA, I set aside to have a museum day where I went to the Getty and the LACMA. At the Getty I was totally enthralled with the pre-Renaissance era religious imagery of Northern and Central Europe. It is so ornate and beautifully patterned, and I love how all of the figures in the artwork all look so sad. On the other end of the spectrum, at the LACMA they had an exhibit of indigenous Pacific Islander artifacts and that also got me running around snapping photos for inspiration. It was a whole different take on cultural traditions, this one deeply rooted in tribal spirituality portrayed in minutely detailed wooden carvings and (real!) chained human skulls.

f210f1834905x897.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design
Some of your work provokes strong emotions, is this a part of your plan or is some of it personal reflection?

Well, I am honored any time someone approaches me with a certain emotional reaction (luckily, always good ones). Truthfully that is never what I set out to do, I think that is why I am still so pleased and humbled when a viewer does take away a personal feeling that my work gave them. I think a lot of it personal. I’ve always had an imagination in turbo-drive ever since I was a kid but it was always very private for me. This constant internal narrative has shaped me into how I operate today and how I approach different pieces that translates itself into work that is evocative to others.

aad421594705x815.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design

I read that you are a bit of foody…top three meals?

Oh boy, I’m going to put away the Sweet Tarts I’m eating and think about this. Number 1: Fresh shucked oysters on Hood Canal, about an hour and a half outside of Seattle. Surprisingly being in the land of incredible shell fish, a lot of restaurants around here can really screw up a good thing.  When you get it straight from the source it’s incredible. Number 2: When I was in Georgia, my boyfriend and I visited his brother and his family and he is quite the self-taught chef. He hand-made fettucine and marinara sauce which you’d think would be a pretty standard meal. But no, oh no, it was light and fresh and one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever eaten and I don’t think I could ever recreate it. Number 3: Anything my father cooks outside that the whole family can enjoy on a warm night on the deck. It seldom ever gets warm enough to eat outside here so anytime we can it’s memorable.

5d5994f15c05x801.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design

What are you working on right now?

Simultaneously working on Earth’s vol II artwork, work for a solo show at Portland’s Compound Gallery opening August 6th, finishing up a large commission for a collector in Malaysia and putting the final touches on a few graphics for Upper Playground t-shirts.

What else do you have planed for this year?

A few big projects I can’t make public quite yet, but they will be amazing, wonderful and very exciting. Aside from branding my work onto useable/wearable commodities, I’ve got a few shows in the works, commissions and — fingers crossed — a trip of the International variety. You can always stay in touch with me here: http://blog.staceyrozich.com

6f1264dc6a15x165.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design
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c0fb83f2b415x165.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design
07aa2048a715x165.jpg Stacey Rozich work stacey seattle project personal News malaysia Interview inspiration images georgia earth design
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From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Sarah Folkman

8475595b3705x401.jpg Sarah Folkman The Citrus Report sarah reference personal nicely balances media Life flight darker culture beautiful aforementioned

Sarah Folkman
Fight to Flight
By j.frede

It’s fair to say that most humans on the planet have felt the effects of love at one point in their life. They’ve felt both the highs and lows, as love is a package deal that comes with the possibility of the beautiful feelings we naturally associate with love as well as the darker side: pain, loss and devastation, which are as fundamental to love as the beautiful feelings.

Sarah Folkman address’s the darker side of love in her new body of work, titled Experiments in Flight that is part of a three-person show, Flight and Fable, opening at Corey Helford Gallery on May 21st in Los Angeles.

d79ba7fb6f05x904.jpg Sarah Folkman The Citrus Report sarah reference personal nicely balances media Life flight darker culture beautiful aforementioned

00c47c2b4105x404.jpg Sarah Folkman The Citrus Report sarah reference personal nicely balances media Life flight darker culture beautiful aforementioned

Noting the dissolution of her marriage as the catalyst for the paintings, the result is something of a journal of her journey from torment to destruction to rebirth finding herself on the other side of what anyone who has lived through it knows it’s something that seems like an impossible or impassable time.

The paintings deal with singular emotions and struggles of the subject. Experiments in Flight presents nude female figures lying vulnerable and in transition coupled with a variety of birds that both assist and loom, depending on the painting and likely depending on the struggles Folkman was experiencing while the work was being created, as the work was painted during the collapse of her personal life that the work addresses.

The torment which is seen in Static Propulsion as the figures seem to writhe in the struggle as many of us have done on sleepless nights in the throes of heartache. Arranged in seemingly propeller-shape, one can see the reference to flight as well as the dizzying spiral of descent.

3a11d7693d05x908.jpg Sarah Folkman The Citrus Report sarah reference personal nicely balances media Life flight darker culture beautiful aforementioned

630e378ba905x904.jpg Sarah Folkman The Citrus Report sarah reference personal nicely balances media Life flight darker culture beautiful aforementioned

Transparency seems to find its way into many of the paintings, most apparently in Glider, with the wood grain of the painted surface showing through, leading us to question the fragility of love or perhaps the fading of tragedies that were once vibrant. The slight hint of blue veins can be seen in most of the women’s exposed skin, adding an additional element of transparency of both human nature and the fragility of humans, as well as their aforementioned love.

Folkman’s use of birds comes from the apparent references of freedom and departure and is strengthened by her strong love for birds, that she described as almost obsessive. This nicely balances out the heavier aspects of their portrayal as a means of escape in Lift Off and even as patient vultures acting as oppressors in Grounded.

This beautifully painted body of work takes us through various stages of the artist’s emotions and perceptions that are easily relatable and will surely force reflection of your own experiences with love.

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Flight and Fable
Sarah Folkman, Krista Huot and Isabel Samaras.

May 21st – June 8th
Opening Reception May 21st 7-10pm
Corey Helford Gallery 8522 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 T: 310-287-2340

Press and Media Inquiries Angelique Groh | Charm School angelique@charmschoolcie.com
T: 323-363-9338
www.sarahfolkman.com
www.coreyhelfordgallery.com

From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

KMNDZ

4bc354f30fure 61.png KMNDZ work rodriguez johnny personal kmndz rodriguez kmndz johnny kmndz johnny kmndz rodriguez heaviest Gallery francisco flash video flash citrus report alignnone size full

FIFTY24SF Gallery just posted a few images from KMNDZ setting up The Heaviest, his solo show that opens tomorrow, Thursday, April 7, 2011 at our San Francisco gallery….

Upper Playground and FIFTY24SF Gallery are proud to present a collection of works by Los Angeles based artist and graphic designer, KMNDZ. The exhibition will run from April 7th – May 19th with an opening reception being held at 7pm on April 7th.

KMNDZ’s personal artwork has consistently drawn from his own experiences and the honesty of his work his gained as much notoriety as it’s form. For ‘The Heaviest,’ KMNDZ builds upon a quote from Bob Marley, “Every man thinketh his burden is the heaviest.” Taking from this quote a sense of faith and purpose, KMNDZ has constructed the personal works that make up this show. Playing with the mediums of wood and found paper he has constructed a variety of small and medium panel works which have given his artwork a chance to have fun and breath a new life.

The Heaviest will run at FIFTY24SF Gallery from April 7th – May 19th, 2011.

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Johnny “KMNDZ” Rodriguez
“The Heaviest”
Opens tomorrow, April 7, 2011
FIFTY24SF Gallery
San Francisco, Califorina

From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Alp Klanten

Where do you Live?

Right now in Istanbul, looks like I’m moving to NY this summer.

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What do you take pictures of?

Landscape and people

b521d65a00ure 86.png Alp Klanten Summer stephen shore pierre verger personal mpagi sepuya less boredom influences hasselblad future shared friedlander battle at 3 a.m. alignnone size full What kind of camera do you use?

My Hasselblad for the personal stuff. Still loving the square.

12cc1e7212re 851.png Alp Klanten Summer stephen shore pierre verger personal mpagi sepuya less boredom influences hasselblad future shared friedlander battle at 3 a.m. alignnone size full Are you classically trained in photography?

I took a basic course 2 years ago. Starting an MfA this fall.

250cf6aaa8re 841.png Alp Klanten Summer stephen shore pierre verger personal mpagi sepuya less boredom influences hasselblad future shared friedlander battle at 3 a.m. alignnone size full What are your influences?

Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander, Wolfgang Tillmans, Pierre Verger, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Slava Mogutin amongst others.

f35871e58dre 831.png Alp Klanten Summer stephen shore pierre verger personal mpagi sepuya less boredom influences hasselblad future shared friedlander battle at 3 a.m. alignnone size full What makes you happy?

Being alive, driven or flowing. So many things, as long as there is less boredom, more discoveries and a future shared with friends.

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Posted from Battle at 3 A.M.

Bret Easton Ellis, author of “American Psycho,” on Charlie Sheen

ad455c555a563943.jpg Bret Easton Ellis, author of “American Psycho,” on Charlie Sheen public piece personal moment headlines gaga flash video flash easton ellis daily beast creator charlie sheen bret easton ellis

We think our favorite line that Bret Easton Ellis wrote in this piece on Charlie Sheen is “What Sheen has exemplified and has clarified is the moment in the culture when not giving a fuck about what the public thinks about you or your personal life is what matters most—and what makes the public love you even more (if not exactly CBS or the creator of the show that has made you so wealthy).”

Because that is what makes Sheen, Kanye, Gaga, or Barry Bonds so famous… they don’t give a fuck, and we pay attention because of it.

From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Megan Van Groll

Posted from The Citrus Report

7127e6ea7533 PM.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

Megan Van Groll studies her own relation to body, function, and gender through her neo-realist interpretations, and does so in a way that feels mundanely human while rendering each piece particularly poignant and oddly evocative. Her ability to recreate scenes where egos and their respective bodies collide is truly a gift, especially since she uses it as a personal reflective tool, not as some thrift store badge of pseudo-hipsterness. Instead, her artwork serves as an honest intersection point – a place, outside our dreams, where we’re able to relive and rework the dynamics at hand, all the while cuddling and cajoling the aspects of personhood that some of us would surely like to see go by the wayside. Her unabashed undertaking of food and femininity sets the stage for work that could spiral off in various directions, and we’re glad to have caught up with her while she solidifies her current approach.

As masks of identity are peeled back by Megan’s culinary art, her intense, seemingly over-pixelated images are so real that they veer over the top; all the while allowing the viewer enough space to come to a variety of conclusions. If you need something more abstract, off you go… but when it comes to food for thought, Megan Van Groll has an appetite.

by Evan La Ruffa


EL: Your work admittedly prods at the way women relate to food….for as much as it appears in your work, would you rather people make their own judgment, or is there a specific message you’re trying to get across?

MVG: This is a tricky question. Some people feel that all art is political — that it’s impossible for the artist to separate herself from her beliefs or opinions when creating a work of art. Others feel that art with any kind of agenda is propaganda, not art. I want to make art that asks a question, not that delivers an answer. I want to make art that inspires introspection among its viewers. I don’t have answers to my own questions, if I did, it wouldn’t be interesting enough for me to base a painting on. The process of creating the painting and hearing the perspective of viewers inspires a better understanding of the topic at hand.

EL: Your aesthetic is fairly honed in. All your stuff almost feels like part of a series. Has your work always followed a theme?

MVG: The questions and topics that personally interest me certainly play a role in determining what kind of art I choose to make. I often work by deciding upon a theme or approach for an entire series at one time, and write down examples for possible subject matter, along with a first draft for a future artist statement. Only after much writing and introspection will I begin work on the first painting in that series. It takes a painfully long time for me to uncover a pattern or theme in my ideas that I feel has a solid chance of becoming a series, so there’s usually a long period of thinking, digesting, and waiting…but when the time is right, inspiration will come as a flash and within thirty minutes or so I’ve begun to plan every painting in the series.

a0bee54c4305x453.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

EL: How do you think you came to settle on your aesthetic? What aspect of your life made your particular expression what it is today?

MVG: I love to make visceral images that immediately engage the viewer, and for my work, a neo-realistic or narrative style is the most effective for this. I also love the process of painting realistically. My left brained, perfectionist, list-making side, absolutely loves the hours agonizing over the tiny details of the human form, and the countless brush strokes that finally achieve a human likeness. My work is definitely a stylized form of realism, and one of the things I want to explore with future paintings is how I can more effectively use this disconnection from complete photorealism as a communication tool in and of itself.

EL: It feels to me like you’re trying out real-life situations through the fantasy of painting yourself into the scene, kind of like a dream…how do u view it?

MVG: There’s an element of surrealism to this aspect of my work. I of course wouldn’t be able to have a fight with myself, or walk around naked in public spaces. If I could, photography would be the most effective medium for me to use. I enjoy the fantastical result of creating a painting of something you can’t photograph. That’s been an effective tool for visual engagement, it’s also pretty fun.

7a7beb193f05x453.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

a7eca23a9005x370.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

EL: “Bakery Brawl” seems like a scene you were actually a part of, in fact, you describe it as a “double self-portrait”…explain that…

MVG: I love to watch my initial ideas unfold into something unexpected. Every painting I make turns out, in retrospect, to reflect whatever is going on in my world or my mind at the time that I make it. Bakery Brawl is a great example of this. I found a photo of two prostitutes at the beginning of a catfight and that was the basis for the pose of the two women in that painting. I recreated it with new reference images and I ended up using myself as the model. I didn’t intend for it to become a double self portrait when I first planned the painting, but I think it’s interesting that it did. The aggression reflected on a personal point of tension in my life as a young person — and a young painter — figuring things out, figuring myself out and where I fit in this world — and particularly the art world. When I became cognizant of this, I realized that this personal dialogue parallels the rather complicated current state of gender roles. In its own way and without intending to, Bakery Brawl marked the expansion of my artistic focus from the personal to the interpersonal, exploring identity construction within the framework of female relationships and communities.

EL: In your artist statement, you say “I’m fascinated by the obsessive, erotic, and somewhat dark role of food in the female consciousness.” How do you see food as both erotic and dark? Can they be so at the same time?

MVG: Food is such a sensual matter. Even just texturally speaking; it can be soft, lush, sweet, dripping, messy, fleshy, warm, spongey… It nourishes us, and satisfies our hunger and cravings. We have a complicated relationship to our food, especially women and especially American women. We both crave certain foods — and are even addicted to these foods — and fear and loathe them. A cupcake, to name an example, is not just a cupcake. It’s a loaded cultural symbol — for guilty pleasure, for excess, for reward, for personal responsibility, broken goals, self-loathing and for everything we don’t like about ourselves. For everything personal we know is in our power to change, and we can’t get there.

de5e8fbec705x409.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

EL: Do you find that people are often perplexed by what you’re getting at, or do folks usually interpret your work the way you do? how does that affect what you decide to do next? or does it?

MVG: I want people to be a little perplexed. I don’t want my work to be a one-liner. I want it to be both accessible enough that you don’t need a Masters degree in Art History to feel that it holds cultural value for you, but complex enough that you feel compelled to explore the visual and psychological space of the image. That’s the challenge of painting semi-realistically and the anxiety of realistic painters: that the image might only be interpreted literally.

The process of choosing what to paint next is a natural evolution of my past work, the interpretation of it by others, and the dialogue that results. Hearing the perspectives of other people about my work has helped me understand new dimensions I didn’t anticipate. That’s the best part, for me – engaging the viewer in a dialogue, opening a portal for discussion. I encourage feedback. The interpretations of viewers does make its way into my future painting decisions, and any artist who claims otherwise is either fooling themselves or lying. However, it’s a delicate balancing act to choose when to listen and when not to; focusing too much on the potential reactions of viewers is paralyzing, unproductive, and clogs innovation.

EL: Besides making a commentary on food as it relates to femininity, what other aspects of your world view inform your art?

MVG: My father was in the Army for over twenty years so I moved around a lot when I was a kid, spending five of my earliest years in Germany. Constantly readjusting to new places every year or two and not having one place to honestly call a hometown resulted in a fascination with the psychology of identity formation. How we become who we are and how we come to understand ourselves relative to other people, societies, and cultural expectations such as gender roles or racial stereotypes is an underlying theme in all of my work.

6e915e196105x453.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

EL: Are there other social dynamics, internalized or otherwise, that you look forward to engaging through your work in the future?

MVG: Absolutely. I’m very interested in exploring themes of identity — and my future work will likely be more immersed in this topic than my last few paintings, and probably in a more personal way.

a67edea08933 PM.png Megan Van Groll time shot 2011 02 07 realism psychology power personal News mind Life food culture artistic artist

EL: What are you working on now?

MVG: Just this week I had one of the aforementioned flashes of inspiration and began planning a new series. I’m not yet ready to talk about it more than I have, though. I’m still in draft mode.

EL: Name one artist or musician we should check out…

MVG: I’m really enjoying the intricate, colorful paintings of Michelle Hinebrook. I recently purchased a print of one of her pieces titled Sugarcoat from 20