Synesthetes’ Breakfast w/ Anna Cruz & Adam Lavigne

As separate artists, Anna Cruz and Adam Lavigne are both savants of color, creating beautiful paintings, drawings, and zines on whatever they’re inspired by that day–whether it be fruit, light, or in the case of a recent zine (released under their co-founded publishing company Lemon Press), a Kanye West interview. As a couple, they are GOALS, bouncing ideas off of each other, building the other one up, and crafting unique work as a summation of their own talents.

I caught up with the two as they were installing their latest duel exhibit, titled “Synesthetes’ Breakfast,” at the freshly opened Gallery Eola in Thornton Park Gallery, open Thursday & Friday 4-7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Enjoy.

Upcoming Events:

July 20 – August 11: Synesthetes’ Breakfast @ Gallery Eola


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matthew warhol: I wanted to start—before we get into like high level art talk—by asking you something I was curious about. We’ll definitely dive into both of you as individual artists, but I wanted to know… how did the two of you meet?

Adam Lavigne: Uh, drawing class.

Anna Cruz: We met in school, 2011 or 2012. We had drawing class in 2012, and I had a crush on him. We were just acquaintances; we never really hung out or talked to each other much. I went to his roommate’s house one night with Paul Finn and got reallllly high and threw up and had a really bad anxiety attack. Thankfully, he didn’t see any of it.

Adam Lavigne: My roommate told me about that afterwards and I was really jealous that he got to hang out with her.

matthew warhol: Did you like each other’s work to begin with?

Adam Lavigne: Definitely, it was pretty clear—in class—that we were fans of each other. We had critiques and the other always had something to say.

Anna Cruz: And I feel like both of our works—when you go to school you see a lot of people that do student work—where at that point we already had a language that was developing. I think seeing each other’s work, and how different it was, really made us interested in each other.

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Adam Lavigne: There was something more cartoony about what we were doing that everyone else shied away from, because of this formalist attitude towards academic drawing. I just remember always being really impressed with Anna’s figures.

Anna Cruz: Same.

matthew warhol: How long into your relationship did you start working together?

Adam Lavigne: That was 2013, so it must have been three years later.

Anna Cruz: We didn’t see each other for a couple of years, but I knew you were still in town. I had a show in 2015 at Canvas Gallery, and he came to see it. He had been lurking my Tumblr. I was like, “I hope he comes.”

matthew warhol: Did you have one of those apps that let you know who visits your page, or was he liking stuff?

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was liking stuff.

matthew warhol: Oh, so you weren’t even being subtle about it. [laughs]

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was reblogging.

 Anna Cruz: And then, we had our first show together at A Place that year, but none of those works were made together. Being together a lot last year, it happened organically. I’m working; he’s working in the same space.

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matthew warhol: So you started creating stuff together, but individually?

Adam Lavigne: We did after that show. I would come to hang out with Anna and we would work on drawings together. It was really cool because we are both left-handed so I could sit right next to Anna while she was drawing and we wouldn’t bump elbows or anything. That was really exciting. [Anna laughs] We were getting more and more interested in print, making zines and stuff, so naturally, we were like, “We should make something together.”

Anna Cruz: The first actual time that we worked together, collaborating on one piece, was when we were making flyers for the A Place show.

matthew warhol: When you’re working on something together, how is the process different from when you’re by yourself?

Anna Cruz: I think it’s a lot more messy—in a good way. When I’m drawing alone, I have a specific idea of how I want something to look. Once I get there, I stop and I’m happy with it. But with him being there, we draw a bunch of stuff and pass it to each other.

Adam Lavigne: We also work on mylar and vellum, so a lot of times I’ll be able to ink something Anna’s drawn or vice versa. We can change the line work or the drawing that way—we work in layers.

matthew warhol: When do you know it’s done? Are you ever stripping things apart after?

Adam Lavigne: It just kinda piles up. We’ll never scrap something entirely, but there will definitely be a discard pile and one for the keepers.

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Follow Anna Cruz: Instagram

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matthew warhol: Individually, take me through your process of working on a painting. [To Anna] I noticed in your work that there’s a lot of different elements.

Anna Cruz: I know I have a specific idea but it’s more like an intuitive idea—in like, I know how I want the painting to feel. I go on Instagram a lot and ever since they added the tag option, I’ve collected a lot of images of things that made me stop and look. It’s never copying a specific photo. It’s more like collaging with different photos I’ve collected. It’s very intuitive. I never know when I’ll be finished, but I KNOW when I see it. With portraits, it’s when the person feels real. It doesn’t look real, but it feels like a real character that exists.

matthew warhol: What about you, Adam?

Adam Lavigne: I guess I don’t tend to use reference material as much, but I have a lot of sketch books that I keep ideas in, so when I sit down to work on something I’m not pulling my hair out to do something new. Through drawing, you build a language that’s your own. It’s like a vocabulary you can draw in. I think about themes and symbols that I’ve generated over time and pull from those to make new work—maybe change those themes. But, the paintings have been more about the in-the-moment act of painting, responding to color, not really planning as much.

matthew warhol: When you’re separate, do you tell each other your opinions on what the other is doing?

Anna Cruz: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Yeah? How does that work? Because I know that can be a touchy area. Do you wait for the person to ask, “How do you think about this?”

[laughs]

Anna Cruz: It’s a tricky conversation at times. I feel like I’m very bossy—I usually know what I want things to look like, even if it’s not my own work. But it’s really whatever he wants it to look like. I tend to just shoot ideas. Lately, I’ve been doing that, but you always have a limit where like, “I need to think about this and process this without taking in what you’re suggesting.”

Adam Lavigne: It’s always much appreciated because I have a lot of respect for Anna’s opinion and for… the feedback that she gives me. I take it to heart and consider it, greatly. We’ll sometimes get really excited about what the other person is doing and not be able to contain it. Like, “Oh my God, that looks great.” Or, “DAMN.” There’s nothing else you can say. “You’re killing it.”

Anna Cruz: Those are really good moments. And the great thing about having those moments, is I didn’t show my work to anyone while I was working on it, I would never know when to stop. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear that it looks good the way it is.

matthew warhol: Maybe you were thinking about adding something and like, “Oh, this is great,” and you’re like, “I don’t need to change anything.”

Adam Lavigne: That’s happened to me a lot, where I think I want to do something else and Anna will be like, “Don’t touch it!” [laughs] That feels good, to know that someone can see it before anyone else and give you this really powerful feedback.

matthew warhol: How do you each other’s work has progressed since you first saw it?

Adam Lavigne: We’ve really developed as artists through each other. The best shows I’ve ever had have been our duel shows. When we’re at the studio, it’s like this unavoidable influence on the other.

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matthew warhol: Well, I think in any relationship, something you love about someone is seeing that person grow. Specifically, as artists, how have you seen that in each other?

Adam Lavigne: When we started working together, it became so much clearer what we wanted that vocabulary to be. And we could inform each other’s vocabulary. I definitely make more paintings now then I did before. I always resented the permanence of a painting, so for a long time I just made drawings. Through my relationship with Anna, I’ve been more excited about making paintings. And we both just started doing murals together.

Anna Cruz: With me, it was the opposite. I was making so many paintings and treated them like these precious objects. When I met him, his style of work was all about quantity. Seeing his sense of freedom encouraged me to work that way as well.

matthew warhol: What do you think the difference is between painting versus making something like a zine?

Adam Lavigne: It’s pretty huge. You’re like using different parts of your brain. Painting can be so nonverbal.

Anna Cruz: Painting is very direct. If you don’t react the first time you see a painting, it probably doesn’t even matter. When you’re reading a book, you might look over it today, but tomorrow it’ll mean something different. A painting is more visceral.

matthew warhol: Where with a zine, it’s more solid. There’s words.

Adam Lavigne: There’s definitely something tactile about holding books and reading zines. That’s drawn me to zines.

matthew warhol: You’re exploring it.

Adam Lavigne: I’ve found I’ll really torment myself when making a zine. And making a painting is the exact same way. You’ll sit in front of it and do nothing for like two hours, wondering if you should destroy it.

Anna Cruz: I think zine making is less scary for me, because I always have this closet of imagery and data I want to pull from. I never really feel alone. There’s always options.

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matthew warhol: I think there’s a little more structure with zines. Everything has to flow and feed off each other. Painting is just one thing. Here it is! Can we go through some of the paintings around us and talk about them a little bit?

Anna Cruz: Let’s look at the moons! They’re Adams.

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, so when I started making paintings again, I got really excited about the stretching and building of canvases. I never really thought about the options I had. These just started out as exercises in difficult canvas building. This is a twelve sided canvas.

matthew warhol: So why the half earth?

Adam Lavigne: I think it’s more like a rising earth. There may be a horizon line where you can only see part of the earth. Those photographs where you can see the earth from the moon, I’ve always been drawn to those as a symbol of our era. As an artist, you’re always looking for symbols that define the time you live in. The earth from the moon never existed before we traveled to the moon.

Anna Cruz: It’s really cool because I see a lot of that shape from painters that I follow on Instagram, but it’s usually a rainbow or watermelon. But like, I’ve never seen half an earth. It’s really cool.

matthew warhol: What about you Anna? What in here is from you?

Anna Cruz: These two. I usually am drawn to very warm, earth colors. These paintings are pretty much just about color. I hadn’t painted this year. I was scared to start again, so I bought all this new paint and started playing with the colors. Line work has always been part of my style; I continued with that.

matthew warhol: What do the colors in these pieces mean to you?

Anna Cruz: I think of them as times of day. This one is called Sunset Potrait, just thinking about being at the beach and it’s almost dark. This one is being in a jungle in the middle of the day, but not actually seeing the sun. And I put a pear because I love fruits. [laughs]

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Swirlsss Interview Orlando music
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ART OR DIE: The Colorful World of Swirlsss

Swirlsss cares about Orlando more than most people. Even though she’s currently living in Kissimmee, she’s booking weekly events at Vinyl Arts Bar that feature local music, art, vendors, and more. Outside of that, she’s an incredibly talented painter whose swirls of color incorporate emotion and movement like those of the great expressionist painters. I wanted to meet up with this local person-about-town to talk all that shit and takes some pics of her and her art. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

Swirlsss hosts a night of music, art, vendors, and spoken word every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar.

Thursday, 4/6

Thursday, 4/20 (feat. Tiger Fawn)


matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music. Swirlsss: Not really. matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it. Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there. matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either? Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So it went literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs] matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: What were you going to school for? Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociolgy teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society. matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.” Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it. matthew warhol: This was the same teacher? Swirlsss: The same teacher. He was not havin’ it. He was like, “Okay well, I know that you feel that way but I’m going to let you retake the final.” And I’m like, “I do not want to retake your final. I didn’t take it in the first place.” [laughs] “I don’t know why I showed up here. It’s the last day.” If I didn’t show up, I would have failed the class entirely. He would have withdrawn me from the class. matthew warhol: Did you pass the class? Swirlsss: I bullshitted the whole thing and got a “D.” I didn’t fail though. I don’t know if that’s better than failing. [laughs] matthew warhol: It definitely is. So you were saying that you wanted to focus on art. What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do. Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career in the beginning wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art. matthew warhol: What were you making? Swirlsss: At that point I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to do events which is what I’m focusing on now, coordinating events. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s no where to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on. matthew warhol: But your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it? Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people, so I jus throw an event and ask them to come. So they don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places. matthew warhol: How I know of you is through Instagram. I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities. Personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already, but want to know more about them. And be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh … you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people. Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but… matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist. Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live there life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram, that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through. matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like painting was? Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always … different! [laughs] I was always the weird quite girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there’s so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck. matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool, like you said, you want to take risks. Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art. matthew warhol: Isn’t it. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for what we independently do and how it coincides together. Swirlsss: I feel like if everyone followed their passion, like bro, the world be so much fucking better. We would always be happy doing what we do and collaborating with people. matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now? Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events. matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar? Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night. matthew warhol: How has it been? Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistant people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people. matthew warhol: At your events you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these seperate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out. Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit. matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting? Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding. matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are these them ? Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished. matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting? Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground. matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it? Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did a random layers over the whole thing. These two go together. matthew warhol: Diptych? Is that what’s it called when two paintings go together? Swirlsss: Sounds really sexual. Sounds like “dick.” I feel like these three (see photo) I was experimenting with. These are all new. I don’t have my older pieces. matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot? Swirlsss: Yeah, I usually do the first layer on the ground. But I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer. matthew warhol: Because of all the white? Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like this one is different. I don’t want to finish the whole thing. I just want to have a main focus. matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting? Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.” matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions. Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like. matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful. Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into. matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel. Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see. matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work? Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there was some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did. matthew warhol: Who did you pull from? Swirlsss: I don’t know any names. I would just look up, “famous abstract artists.” matthew warhol: On Google? Swirlsss: On YouTube. And I would just how they would paint and watch interviews. matthew warhol: That’s poetic. Swirlsss: A lot of female artists too. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion. matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff? Swirlsss: I just don’t take pictures of them, and I don’t really showcase my work anywhere. I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music.

Swirlsss: Not really.

matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it.

Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there.

matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either?

Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So I literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs]

matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you going to school for?

Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociology teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society.

matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.”

Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it.

matthew warhol: What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do.

Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career, in the beginning, wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you making?

Swirlsss: At that point, I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to coordinate events which is what I’m focusing on now. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s nowhere to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on.

matthew warhol: Your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it?

Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people. They don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places.

matthew warhol: I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities, personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already but want to know more about them and be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh… you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people.

Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but…

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist.

Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live their life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram — that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through.

matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like the painting was?

Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always… different [laughs]. I was always the weird, quiet girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there are so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck.

matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool. Like you said, you want to take risks.

Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art.

matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now?

Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

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matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar?

Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night.

matthew warhol: How has it been?

Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistent people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people.

matthew warhol: At your events, you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these separate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out.

Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting?

Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding.

matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are those them?

Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished.

matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground.

matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it?

Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did random layers over the whole thing. These two go together.

matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot?

Swirlsss: I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This one, I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.”

matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like.

matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful.

Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into.

matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see.

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work?

Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there were some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did.

matthew warhol: Who did you pull from?

Swirlsss: A lot of female artists. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion.

matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff?

Swirlsss: I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

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Orlando Hannah Spector Art
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Moments, Moments, Momentum w/ Hannah Spector

Hannah Spector is a good kid who makes a bad grown-up. Her artwork is hypnotic, in no short part due to its playful colorful and shapes. It ignites flickers of memories that only appear before they hurl you into a dream.

(Note: This interview was recorded a few days after A Place Gallery, a DIY art venue by Time Waste Management, closed.)


Andy Andrade: I think the first time I became interested in your work when you held an exhibition titled  Moments, Moments, Momentum with Orlando-based artist Jacob Bailes at A Place Gallery.

Hannah Spector: Yeah I was really happy with that show, I love working with Jacob. His ethic is planned and methodical. When he approaches a work he’s precise and knows what he’s going to do, which I admire. When I do something, I don’t know when it’s done until it’s done. I make him loosen up and he makes me tighten up. We provide the pops of color that the other needs. We share the same aesthetics. He’s my favorite collaborator.

Andy Andrade: Are you from here?

Hannah Spector: Yes, but I’ve lived in DC for five years and some other places, France for eight months and Thailand for 3 months; by the Burmese border.

Orlando Hannah Spector Art

Andy Andrade: Was it a humanitarian effort?

Hannah Spector: Yeah, I was teaching art/music an English language to kids. Most of their parents were still in Burma, so they’d come here after school. It was a community center kind of deal.

Andy Andrade: How old were you when you did this?

Hannah Spector: I was a sophomore in college.

Andy Andrade: So you’re a yoga teacher, a musician, a poet, an artist, a humanitarian … what else am I missing here?

Hannah Spector: *pause* I think I’m pretty good at dancing.

Andy Andrade: Who inspired you to become an artist?

Hannah Spector: I think it was more of a slow building process. I was just good at art. I won the Winter Park Sidewalk Festival when I was in kindergarten. But I think it all started when I learned how to write. I would carry a little Hello Kitty notebook around my neck and only talk to people by writing what I was thinking or needed.

Hannah Spector Orlando Art

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Andy Andrade: How do you feel about the art scene in Orlando, given that we now have lost another DIY space?

Hannah Spector: It’s really sad. They had just made me a curator. There was a lot of people who would have helped out but just couldn’t.

Andy Andrade: That whole part of town is being heavily gentrified, what do you think the next move is for DIY spaces and culture in Orlando?

Hannah Spector: It’s going to just start being in everyone’s houses. That’s what I would do in DC, I would just throw gatherings in my apartment building. Bad things are happening in the Milk District too — landlords trying to get money left and right. There’s not a lot of funding down here for youth-oriented art anyway. The members of the art board, they fund particular artists … old established flamingo painters. It’s all about what can be consumed, what can they sell, and what people want in their houses. No one is going to buy the cage that Jacob Bailes and I created for Moments, Moments, Momentum. They don’t support the youth. Those board members, they’re stuck on this line of “Oh, as a kid you do face paints and then as you get older all of that is irrelevant. You paint landscapes and get rich.” Somewhere I got mad in that process. This is not why I’m making art. I don’t just want it to sit in people’s homes.  

Orlando Hannah Spector Art

Andy Andrade: When did you come to this conclusion?

Hannah Spector: I was meeting with a gallery’s board, and I kept meeting people that were in charge of their funding. It was a dinner and I started noticing how much they didn’t care about the artists, only about the wealth and profits that are coming from the work. I felt disturbed, kind of like in Fear and Loathing — when everyone was a lizard and laughing.

Andy Andrade: Do you usually represent yourself?

Hannah Spector: Yes. Always. So I can be unedited.   

Andy Andrade: What made you move back from DC?

Hannah Spector: I Just liked it better down here.

Andy Andrade: Why?

Hannah Spector: The people. They’re genuine; they care. They’re more genuinely creative. It’s a friendly competition, a community.

Andy Andrade: Everyone knows each other too. You can ask someone if they know so-and-so and they’re bound to say, “Oh, I write for that person. I paint with that person. I make music with that person.” 

Hannah Spector: I love that. I am happy to be here, in this moment. 

Andy Andrade: So what’s your current style? Preferred medium?

Hannah Spector: Painting and screen printing. They’re two different parts of my practice. Screen printing, minimalist color theory and focusing on shape and color, that’s it. I have a catalog of shapes that I’m going to stop using so I can be progressive. Screen printing is meticulous. You have to be virulent about your hands being clean, watching for the paint to not dry. Then painting, it’s chaos. Sitting with globs of paint … there’s still love for color theory, but it’s an amorphous color theory. It all depends on what medium I want to use in my next piece. That’s been my goal over the last four years, master the mediums through intense study. So when I have an idea, I can use the software, printmaking, woodcutting, music, whatever I need to get the idea out. I want fluidity. 

Andy Andrade: So if you had to pick, would you be a poet or a painter?

Hannah Spector: I really like the place I go with writing. If a voice asked me in the middle of the night, ”What must you do?” I would say, “I must write.” But it’s all part of the same feeling, I have to make things or I get upset.

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Hannah Spector Orlando Art

Side C - "bitter//sweet"

Side C – “bitter//sweet”

Side C is the moniker of Orlando producer, Kevin Cruz. Kevin is the guy at the front of the stage with the dope flat top, dancing like he’s got the fever. As Side C, he ices that fever and turns it into cool, groovy, expansive instrumentals. His latest is “bitter//sweet.”

The initial elements of the song are minimalist tones that float above a sample of crashing waves. Before the ticking beat is introduced at 0:25, I’m pulled into the same headspace that Brian Eno evokes: calm introspection. I don’t stay there for long, though. The song is filled-in with the aforementioned beat, dreamy melodies, and gentle cymbals.

Two minutes in, the music fades. Pieces slowly drop out until we’re left with the few sounds we had at beginning, bringing the song to its apparent end. But silence only lasts a second, and we are introduced to a short, ice cream truck-like jingle. This is again built upon. The whole story feels like an entire day spent unknotting at the beach.

The tart side of “bitter//sweet” is that it serves as Kevin’s farewell to Orlando. This is expressed in the soulful keys and emotive flute of the second half. It’s an overall happy send-off, but is slightly tinged with sadness, kind of like driving back to home after our day at the beach. I have no doubt Cruz will continue to make great music in the future, and he’ll always be covered in the stench that is Orlando. It doesn’t watch off.

Why Was The Space Important?

It’s been a few weeks since The Space closed its doors. It was weird. One second we were putting on our first show at The Space, and in what seemed to be a blink of the eye, it was gone. I didn’t feel the shock. The Space closing didn’t really seem to surprise anyone, and I think that’s because we had been expecting the fall for so long. Back in December, I remember hearing rumors that The Space wasn’t going to be around much longer. And more and more, it seemed that Meg McNash – The Space’s de facto booker – was fighting to keep the blood pumping. And she should be proud. Orlando should be proud. The Space was never meant to be The Social or Backbooth. It wasn’t, or at least didn’t feel like, a venue. The Space was more of a creative celebration or a social experiment, meant to see what Orlando was capable of.

“So they burned it down, so build another one. Don’t go on to me that they burned it down, BUILD ANOTHER ONE. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONES THAT ARE GONNA DO IT!”

– Patti Smith

After a extended stay in denial, this Patti Smith quote, delivered by local spoken-word artist Young Moon, pushed me directly to acceptance. The excerpt is from a piece he read at the final edition of Speakeasy, a monthly poetry and spoken-word night at Will’s Pub that ran for over 13 years. In a city where bars and venues close down so suddenly, how could this line not resonate? Because avenues of expression may die, but as long as we keep pushing, the creativity within the community will continue to thrive. We should remember The Space for what it was, what it meant to everyone who visited. To some, it was a hot as shit venue. I, in a previous article titled “Why is The Space Important?,” more lovingly described it as, “… a prime location to witness Orlando’s growing cultural impact” and, “[An] artistic mecca home to a variety of celebrations and group expression.”

But I agree, it was hot as shit. And we didn’t care. Some of my best memories since moving to Orlando were at The Space: my best friend crowd surfing during a packed Me Chinese set, seeing Tiger Fawn for the first time at SPACE FEST 2, putting on my first show with all my friends! The Space was great. It left its mark on me. And I know everyone reading this right now has stories like mine. You’re marked too. And hopefully, you’ll want to keep this artistic community alive by starting your own iteration of The Space or supporting local venues like The Space Station, Uncle Lou’s, or Will’s Pub. So thank you to The Space, Meg, and the entire Orlando community. The Space will always be the place.

“The idea of a place for us to teach in, to rehearse and play in that is kept afloat based on the efforts of the community is such a next-level, foreign concept for us. Maybe this is our chance to evolve as a unit and directly support each other’s passions and art forms.”

– Addison Muha (Orlando Singer-Songwriter) 

Indigo People – ‘Glasshouse EP’

Around this time last year, I did a review of an ethereal jazz artist who goes by the moniker Chris Topher. He had just released his fourth EP, Green Machinea release that featured Topher collaborating with Silvia Plath, Carl Sagan, and Jackson Pollock. A year before that, I did my first review of Chris’ music on Introspective. The reason I bring up Chris Topher in the first place is because he has a new moniker, Indigo People. And as Indigo People, he’s expanded the single he released last September into a complete EP. enjoy.

Glasshouse starts with “Daydreamer,” a piece that incorporates a familiar element from Chris Topher/Indigo People, some scholar discussing our universe. These audio clips have always drawn me to his music. They’re thought provoking and really make the aura of these songs. Next is “Silent Film.” This was the single from last year. So far, we’ve got a new name, but not any changes to the music. Let’s continue.

“Passeig de les Aigues” knocked me out. It’s where the new sounds finally emerge. The song starts with a mandolin line, something that I’ve never heard in a prior EP. The direct words of “Daydreamer” are replaced with the singing of birds. It’s very folk-era Zeppelin. A bass line hits that brings thunder into the forest. This is followed by strings and tambourine on the tail end of the song that are some other forrest-y thing. This is a brand new world for this artist. This is Indigo People.

But, Topher’s piano lines are still present, leading us through this new territory. “Keukenhof Gardens” somewhat returns to space, but takes an electric drum kit with it. The outro on this one beautiful; the pianos and guitars delicately bounce off each other. The last song is “Blue Box.” And we’ve got more new elements, glitchy synth and tasteful beat-boxing. “Blue Box” jumps around way more rapidly than the prior pieces. Paino, guitar, kit drums, more glitches, and a funky bassline all enter and exit at leisure. The three-and-a-half minute coda feels long, because we’re hit with so much, so quickly. It’s another large step forward for this artist. As long as he keeps experimenting and his music keeps intriguing me, he can call himself whatever he wants.

Young Thug VS Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the 1980’s, a young, African American painter emerged onto the New York art scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the brightest, and most unique, artists in all of America. He took the expressionist style of the Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and combined it with tribal African and street art that reflected his urban surroundings and the plight of the African American community. 

Since Basquiat’s 1998 death, his art has grown increasingly popular among hip hop artists. Both Jay Z and Swizz Beats are known Basquiat collectors, and he has been referenced in verses by hip hop heavyweights Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross, Danny Brown, J. Cole, and A$AP Rocky. 

jean-michel-basquiat-boy-and-dog-in-a-johnnypump-1365102287_org
Does Young Thug appear in this Basquiat painting that was made years before his birth?

This reoccurring homage continues in the music video for the Young Thug/Freddie Gibbs/A$AP Ferg collaboration, “Old English.” Well before this video came out, this track blew my mind. Three great verses linked together by one thick chain of a hook. A$AP Ferg especially shines with one of his best verses to date. He tells a narrative of a young, hispanic girl who turns to selling Molly as ends to support her sick mother, along with the rest of her family.

But getting back the video, it’s not too difficult to see the Basquiat connection. The crude line work and the bright colors harken back to Basquiat’s work – his signature crown even makes an appearance. This sort of gritty depiction expertly juxtaposes with the trap instrumentals and dark lyrics on street life.

I think this is why Basquiat’s art resonates in hip hop. Artists like like-minded artists. Basquiat, like Jay-Z or Young Thug, was born with nothing and worked his way to notoriety in a system that fought against him. His art reflects a story that too many African Americans live themselves. One encompassed by poverty, drugs, violence, and systematic suppression. Out of this struggle however, comes wonderful art and music. These artists reflect their surroundings in their art and hopefully, educate their audiences on the circumstances they and so many have experienced.