Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Frida Kahlo--20th Century Painter

My interest in Frida Kahlo and her work started in Spanish class in high school when we learned about her. She was a painter in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century and painted mostly self portraits. She stated, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”, which gives insight into her personality.  She had an interesting, and quite depressing life, getting in an accident as a child and having a roller coaster of a relationship with another Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. She also had a massive internal conflict with staying with her Mexican roots versus becoming more mainstream, shown in her work “The Two Fridas”. Her paintings are interesting to me because they align so perfectly with her real life struggles. It was obvious she was an intense person, driven by her mind, and it shows in her artwork. 

This is a general site about the artist Frida. It shows her biography as well as some of her most recognized paintings, with the years she made them. It gets into some of her political affiliations, which was very important in her life.

This is an extremely specific biography of Frida Kahlo, and would be helpful if you wanted to analyze her paintings so you could see what was happening in her life at the time the painting was created.

This is a very helpful website that showcases her most famous paintings. It’s awesome because if you roll over the paintings in different spots it will show you the significance of that detail in the painting that you are rolling over.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shakira: The One and Only

Shakira is a highly gifted and moving human being. I chose the words "human being" with intent and not by coincidence, as she is tremendously skilled in several disciplines. My reverence for her began when I entered into my major at Western, which is Spanish. Shakira is fluent in Portuguese, Italian, English, Spanish and Arabic. This is honestly an art in itself. It is incredibly challenging to learn a second language. I have the utmost respect for Shakira due to this fact alone.

Shakira is undeniably a strong, female icon of the world. She was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. Shakira has a rich heritage, as not only is she Colombian but also has Arabic roots. In fact, her name is of Arabic origin, which means "grateful" and "thankful."

Currently, Shakira continues to entertain her public eye all over the world (quite literally) and also is a judge of the popular show "The Voice." Soccer was truly the thing that "changed her life." This is a direct quote from Shakira and it could not be more true. Soccer was her door to success and it was also how she met her sweetheart, Girard Pique (who is an all star soccer player). In the years 2010 and 2014, Shakira performed for the FIFA World Cup. 

Most importantly, Shakira is a true at heart, philanthropist.  Although her "hips don't lie," she is way more than her renowned belly dancing and exterior. She is an advocate for children and their right to formal education. In 2011, she was appointed and recognized by President Obama to the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Shakira is one of Unicef's Goodwill Ambassadors. There are over 120 million children in the world without any formal education . As an ambassador, she works to increase access and resources for children. In addition, she is the head honcho of the "Pies Descalzos Foundation." This foundation works to improve the quality of life, health, nutrition, and education of children and their families. She created this foundation at the age of eighteen. Last but not least, Shakira is a member of the ALAS non- profit organization. This organization focuses on early education public policies in Latin America. 

This is perhaps the most useful and compelling web page on Shakira. After all, it is her personal  homepage. There are photos, videos, current news, and additional links to view; the sky is truly the limit. This web page connects the viewer to Shakira's pinterest, twitter, and instagram accounts. 

 This is a phenomenal web page because not only does it shed light on the specifics of who Shakira is, (where she was born and her involvement in education advocacy in Latin America for example)  but it also features a interview where she speaks personally about her ladder to success. While I was navigating around on this web page I stumbled upon a quote that was said by Shakira: "Of course I am trying to make my accent not bother anybody but I am not going to drive myself crazy to pretend I am an American girl when I am from Colombia." I think that this quote sums Shakira up in a nutshell. She isn't going to pretend like she is someone she clearly is not and what you see is what you get. I love that about her.

This is another web page that is equally significant. This web page has a more informal tone but is informative in nature because it is a "fun- fact" page about Shakira. In fact, there are fifty facts in all. From Shakira's favorite color to her journey to becoming fluent in English, this website is enlightening. 


Kaskade, or Ryan Raddon, is a DJ and producer from Chicago that I first started listening to last summer. I saw him at a music festival and had not listened to him before that. Although I knew none of his songs, he automatically pulled me in and it felt like I had heard all of his songs before. That set gave me feelings of nostalgia in ways that I had never felt from listening to any other artist. I feel that he is worth sharing because his music resonates deeply with many people that I know. He uses a variety of styles that can capture the attention of any listener, and can create thousands of emotions with just a few simple lyrics. Even without the lyrics, his music can put you in a trance and make you feel safe and at peace. When I go through hard times, I listen to him and his music reminds me that I am in control of my own happiness. His song “Room for Happiness” is one of my favorites. This one simple line “don’t be fooled by your emptiness, there is so much more room for happiness,” has genuinely helped me find peace in different situations. I know that house music is not for everyone, but I am sure that everyone can find at least one song that resonates with them and strikes emotions in ways they have never felt.

Get to know Kaskade...
Here are some links:

This link provides all of the information needed to know about Kaskade. It features a lengthy biography that explains his music, career path, background, and so on. This is where you can buy his music or download free tracks. You can also find all of the latest news, his tour dates, merchandise, photos, and videos.

Youtube is a great informative link for getting to know Kaskade because aside from listening to his music, you can see and experience his live shows. He does a variety of different shows, from festivals, to small shows, to “Redux” where he plays only his older music. You can also watch interviews and get to know his personality.

Soundcloud is the ultimate place to find Kaskade’s music. You can listen to his original songs, remixes by other artists, his own remixes, festival music, live sets, and more! You can also buy music from this site, as well as download free songs. 

I chose to feature Izumo Kato on my blog posting because I am very interested in the way he combines sculptures and paintings together as one, but also separately.  Izumo Kato in the past few years has started to gain more and more attention in the art world.  He uses interesting and unique methods of creating his art pieces so I thought it would be a learning experience to examine him for this blog posting.


This is an article about Izumi Kato from the "Wall Street International" but I thought it was very informative.  They described Kato's way of using interesting tools like spatulas and his fingers to create his pieces.  They also expressed that painting is like an extra-natural experience for Kato.


This website is interesting because like most others it includes Kato's works of art and his biography, but unlike other websites this one includes his auction results and events featuring Kato.


This was a pretty general website centered around Kato, but it features all of the important elements that are needed to understand his artwork like a biography, images, text, exhibitions and news.

Dark Was the Night - Cold Was the Ground

Blind Willie Johnson was born in born in Brenham, Texas in 1897. He wasn't born blind, some say his stepmother threw lye in his face after he told his father of her affair.

With simple slide guitar melodies matched to his solemn tenor or striking false bass voice, Johnson grips every bone and trembles them. The profoundly smooth blues riffs shudder the spine while Willie's voice conveys a longing beyond this world. Apt then that the Voyager spacecraft's Golden Record has Blind Willie's classic lyric-less Dark Was the Night - Cold Was the Ground on the first side.

This site contains information about Johnson's life as a musician including his upbringing, influences, and recording career.

Here is a website that provides information on Voyager 1, including the song list of 'Music from Earth' on the Golden Record.

This is an excellent example of Willie's  powerful voice, classic blues melodies, lasting lyrics, and beautiful harmonies.

Willie's music resonates with me because it is so naturally infused with and driven by his raw emotions. His eagerness for a better world, sadness at its state, and ecstasy at its beauty construct his music's core. Blind Willie conveys  the obvious but taken for granted truths in the universe, and he does it poetically and harmoniously with seemingly no effort.


Over the pass years I was unexpectedly introduced to a different type of music generally called "K-Pop". Which is weird to think about listening to songs that is in a different language and has a different style than the majority of the songs in America. Vixx is one of those bands that are unique and creative. Each song has their own story and style with dance moves that coordinates with the lyrics. So even if someone isn't able to understand Korean just watching their body movements is a way to translate the meaning of the song. When watching Vixx their dance moves are very sharp and precise, and along with their facial expression can leave one in awe after watching one video.

Vixx is a six member band with the leader being N, rapper Ravi, vocals Leo, Ken, Hyuk, and Hongbin. At the beginning of their debut in 2012 the leader N mention on a music talk show that he really didn't want to become an idol which shocked all the viewers. Soon later  his mind was changed when Vixx quickly became famous over the past 2 years, they were able to win 2 awards in South Korea and had performances on famous shows such as Music Bank and Show Champion. They also have concerts around the world including an upcoming one at K-con which is in California. ( I shall be attending the concert to see them! ). Their songs are able to captive their audiences, and their voices and looks seem to fit perfectly together. This group was selected to be together through the company so the members didn't know each other until training days before their first debut. After years past the group is now close friends with each other as seen on their show Vixx T.V, at the beginning there was a sense the awkwardness of the band, but if you were to watch the videos now you can see how close they are to each other.

The songs that Vixx performs have deeper meanings in their lyrics and have theme to each video. One of the recent songs that came out is called "Eternity" which is about how they wish that there dream about the one they love will last forever. In the music video they dance moves resembles a clock and their facial expression is able to convey the loneliness and sadness they feel as their dream is slipping away. Another music video is "Voodoo Doll" that sounds creepy but I think it is one of the most interesting ideas for a song. The lyrics are expressing that they love the person to such as extent that they are willing to act like a voodoo doll. Other words the girl they love treats them any way she wants and they are just accepting and going along with whatever she wants.

Vixx Voodoo Doll music videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmrNMf_jzkE
As I mention above this is a link to the live version of "Voodoo Doll". The reason why I chose to the live version and not the music video is because in the video is the whole dance and close ups to show their intense facial expressions. Also, you will notice that all their movements are sharp to resmemble a voodoo doll being controlled, and when one of the members are pinned they all react in the same way. When you are done watching the video maybe search the same video with English sub-titles to have a deeper understanding.

Vixx Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VIXX
The wikipedia page has information on how the band was created and each reward that Vixx has won. There is a list of music videos and T.V programs where they were guest stars. Also, some of the members have side jobs as actors and has a list of dramas and shows of their performances.

Vixx Fan pagehttp://kpopcolorcodedlyrics.wordpress.com/vixx-members-profiles/
The fan page has information on each member which include their whole name and what position they have in the band. For each member there are interesting facts about them and you can get to know their personalities more.

Salvador Dali


This first website is a fairly straight forward biography on the great Salvador Dali. This shows his upbringing, his influences and some of his greatest works including The Persistence of Memory which may be his most renown piece of art. I enjoy this site because it shows his journey through life and how he evolved as a surrealist and it details his early life up to his death at the age of 84.


The above site is a great access point for Dali's surrealist paintings. He does so many paintings that display trickery to the eye which are so interesting and vivid to behold. Dali creates paintings in his paintings and in an 'Inception' style type of way. He has many optical illusions where he paints a face but in the face, other shapes or people are formed.


Although this is a Wiki site, it shows the great Dali with his surreal painting of just so many different objects and animals but all being connected somehow. It is odd and beautiful at the same time. Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening is enough to describe the painting itself.

All in all, Dali became my favorite artist by accident. My college roommate had multiple posters of paintings by Dali and I happened to stare at them every day over the course of the year. Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening was so intricate and detailed yet simplistic enough to view with a naked eye and see the different optical illusions it presented. To this day, I still don't understand his art to its full potential but I embrace his surrealist paintings with an open mind and they never cease to impress me.

A young H. R. Giger at work on a mural entitled "Hierogliphics."


Please click on the above link and then click on 'Home' in the middle of the page and you will find my original blog that did not post here for whatever reason. These pictures give you an idea of some of Giger's amazing work. Thank you :)

 This is a picture of the alien design that won Giger an Academy Award in 1980, and the work known mostly by mainstream society.

 This is a picture of some of the incredible sculptural work in one of the 'Giger bars.' Absolutely stunning architectural work as well in these bars.

This is one of my favorite pieces of Giger's. The design, detail, hues, contrasts, form, and content are arresting to me. I had seen Alien, but I did not know the creature was created by a man with so much artwork already permeating the art scene. I was working in Los Angeles, CA in 1991 and the bookstore I was managing got in copies of Giger's Necronomicon. I became a fan that day.

Please return to the top of the page and click on the link to see the rest of the original blog posting.
John Williams

In the sixth grade, I joined band where I played the clarinet through the rest of my middle school years. In band we played a variety of types of music ranging from classical pieces to jazz. At the end of each school year we would put on a spring concert which was always my favorite concert to perform at as for this concert we would choose a variety of compositions from popular sources such as movies, television shows, and video games that we would vote on as a class. Every year I was in band at least one John Williams piece would be chosen, and John Williams quickly rose to become my favorite musical composer.

John Williams has written a variety of movie soundtrack compositions that I have highly enjoyed, and I believe that tons of movies would not have been nearly enjoyable without his work. Some of his more notable work includes tracks for Pirates of the Carribean, Saving Private Ryan, and even The Emperor Strikes Back. From what I've noticed, movies are generally mostly known for their acting performances, story telling abilities, and special effects. However, any movie I've seen with John Williams composed soundtracks, are especially renown for their musical backings, as John Williams is able to enhance movies through music in ways other composers strive to follow. For this reason, I chose to write my blog post about him. 


The official John Williams website would be a great starting place for one to find information about his life and work. It includes a full biography, which I particularly enjoyed reading. In it is also a list of all the different movies he's done work for. This link is definitely worth viewing!

IMDB is a great website for any movie related celebrity. It has information on all the movie's he has been a part of. What I found especially cool, is there are tons of reviews of the different movies as well and you can even post your own!

John Williams official fan website is a where I would go for all the latest news about his life. Wondering what he is working on next? This would be an awesome place to look, and even discuss with other fans what you think of John Williams. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

August Alsina

August Alsina

August Anthony Alsina Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His date of birth is September 3, 1992 making him at the young age of 21. He is fairly new to to the music industry and 2013-2014 was his breakout years. He was nominated for four awards on BET music awards and won two, Best New Artist and Coca-Cola Viewer's Choice Award.

I grew up listening to all sorts of rap, hip hop, R&B and even some Motown. As time has progressed what I noticed about the evolution of many of these genres is the limitations of the subject matter of their music. It seems as if most rappers and hip hop artists only talk about women, drugs and money. There are the few artists that took a leap and their careers are blooming due to it. August Alsina is one of them. He is of true inspiration, the way he can turn his hardships into beautiful compelling is indication of true talent. He writes his own music, in which you can feel the heart and passion he has for his music. His story of drug addict family members, destruction of his home after hurricane Katrina, and death of his father and brother, he has a lot of bent up emotions that he expresses through his music. Although, he may rap and sing about those experiences he also does not detour completely away from mainstream topics. He carries himself in a mature manner and his songs. His music is well crafted, and songs that you are catchy that you just want to play on repeat. If I am having a bad day, he is one of two artists that I will listen to in order to lighten my mood. Not to mention, he has such an interesting appealing, strong voice that I can listen to for hours and hours. This is also a different flavor then I am used to because his rap and song style is southern and I am a bigger fan of West Coast music.

August Alsina Fansite: http://www.augustalsina.com/
This is a link to August Alsina's fansite. This site is a reference to keep current on August Alsina's career, it provides a tour schedule, accomplishments, awards and news about August Alsina. The site also provides other artists on the same label that fans of August Alsina may appreciate as well.

Madame Noire: http://madamenoire.com/420370/august-alsina/
Madame Noire is a cutting-edge web publication that is geared towards African American women. They provide insight on black hair care, relationship advice, fashion trends, entertainment news and parents tips, etc. August Alsina was recently interviewed, and for being a new artist his stardom power is still limited but this interview shows his depth, maturity and how humble this young artist is.

MTV: http://www.mtv.com/artists/august-alsina/
This is a link to MTV's August Alsina artist page. Here you can further explore music, videos, interviews, tweets, photos, tour dates and discography. You can buy tickets to his concerts on this site and download music. There is even a feature in which matches August Alsina to similar artists for fans to checkout.

Written by: Jade Parker

James DeWitt Yancey (J-Dilla)


          James DeWitt Yancey, also known as J-Dilla or Jay Dee, was a Hip-Hop producer that in my opinion was and still is the greatest producer of Hip-Hop to ever have lived. J-Dilla mastered the technique of using a sampling machine, called an MPC. J-Dilla had an extraordinary ability to take music, often lost pieces of music that would never get noticed by people, and make something new out of it. The reason I believe Dilla is one of the greatest producers, if not the greatest of all time, is that he could hear a song, chop up a sample, and make a beat in a matter of 10-20 minutes at most; and they would be instant classics. Many artists and producers look up to J-Dilla as a pioneer in Hip-Hop.
          James Yancey was born in Detroit, Michigan February 7, 1974. He was raised on Jazz at a young age, and soon took an interest in making music. Dilla learned many instruments as a kid, such as piano, guitar, cello, flute and drums, but as he grew older, he took up the MPC as his main instrument. J-Dilla made music for many popular artists, such as Common, Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, Pharcyde and Erykah Badu as he grew older.
          In 2004, James Yancey was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Lupus, in which the body’s immune system begins attacking itself. He did not let this stop him from making music, however. J-Dilla spent the last few months of his life in a hospital bed making music, and he released his third solo LP entitled Donuts, on February 6, 2006, just three days before his passing at the age of 32.
          J-Dilla’s music continues to live on to this day, and will forever be my favorite music to listen to, due to the amount of diversity and quality of it. There is so much depth to his music, and I am still finding new music of his to this day, and different aspects to his music that I had not noticed before. This music has inspired me, and it has changed the game of Hip-Hop forever.
This site offers a biography, discography, inquiries and other various information about the artist for fans of him. The site is updated frequently, and includes recordings of some of J-Dilla's music and other short stories about the artist and the music.

This website offers information about the artist, photo and video galleries, music and discography, as well as news and a store, where you can purchase CD's, vinyls, clothes, etc.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, more commonly referred to as J.S. Bach, is one of the greatest composers of all time.  I am compelled by Bach because he was not even recognized as a great composer during his time but later was recognized as a giant in classical style music.  He was considered an excellent player and teacher of music by his contemporaries, but his compositions weren't fully appreciated until the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin started using his works as inspiration.  His reputation actually declined after his death because his work was considered "old-fashioned" compared to the emerging galant style that was becoming popular in the middle of the eighteenth century.  The three prominent composers I mentioned above, along with Schumann and Mendelssohn, greatly admired his keyboard work.  Beethoven even described Bach as the "original father of harmony."  It is because Bach and his work was largely dismissed by fellow composers, and then later appreciated and made famous, that I so greatly admire him.


I found this site very interesting because it includes a detailed biography of Bach and also includes his complete works and recommended recordings.  The biography link is great because it shows a map of the places Bach lived and has tells about how each place he lived influenced his work.  It is interesting to note that Bach lived in a very small geographic region throughout his lifetime.  During his time, it was unusual for a great composer to stay in such small area, and this could have been a factor in why his music was so under-appreciated during his lifetime.


This webpage is very enjoyable because it features a video that condenses a lot of important information about Bach into 3 minutes.  The Bach historians tell how he and his music was deeply influenced by his religious Lutheran upbringing.  Bach himself wrote many hymns.


This article titled "Why Bach Moves Us" written in the New York Review of Books tells how musicians, composers, and listeners of Bach's works have had to speculate on much of Bach's inner, personal life due to the little information about his character.  He left very few written accounts of his feelings, thoughts, and his life outside of music.  Because of this we are forced to shape our perceptions of his inner life by paying close attention to his music.  The elements of his music provide us with some clues as to how Bach felt about life, but much of it is left to speculation through his compositions.

Miranda Lambert

I used to be impartial to country music. Now I can't get away from it. Miranda Lambert is one of the reasons why. She's beautiful, strong, fiery, and fierce, which is why I love her. I can appreciate bad ass women, and Miranda Lambert is a bad ass to say the least. As I've grown up, my Mama taught me the value of strong women. I have always grown up as such, and I respect those who have as well. I chose Miranda Lambert for this reason. Strong women deserve attention and respect and she is tough but still has a gentle side. This is why she is so intriguing to me.

This site talks about the different songs that Miranda is famous for. She is most famous for her songs that reflecting her as a tough girl. "Kerosene" is about burning down an abusive boyfriends house."Gunpowder and Lead" is about loading a shotgun to greet a cheating boyfriend. The site also talks about Miranda's soft-side. She has songs in which she is vulnerable through her music, for example "The House That Built Me" talks about the house where she grew up and how it shaped her. Miranda Lambert

This site talks about random facts about Miranda Kerr. Miranda's parents were private investigators who brought abused women home to protect them from their husbands. Obviously her parents is where she got her tough-girl side from. Miranda Kerr also admits to having poor grades all through high school, and almost not graduating. Miranda Lambert is married to Blake Shelton and their first dance was to Neal McCoy's "No Doubt About It." 10 facts about Miranda Lambert

Miranda is a lifetime member of NRA and is an avid hunter. Her father taught her to use guns at a very young age, and taught her all about the safety aspects Miranda's drink of choice is Bacardi with crystal light. She talks about her tattoo on her arm of two pistols with angel wings, and how her father was mad at her for getting it. She says that her tattoo has become her logo and she doesn't regret it since has been a kind of signifier for her which she puts on all her backdrops. Miranda Dishes

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean
               By: Madeline Chavira

Christopher Francis Ocean, better known by his stage name Frank Ocean, is an American singer/ songwriter. He is a very talented and aspiring artist that has achieved so much. He truly started from nothing and worked hard on his own to get where he is today. He is most famous for his lyrics that deal with themes of love, misgiving, nostalgia and longing. The reason why I believe he is such a great artist is because his music is so soothing and enticing I can’t help but keep listening. He has received two Grammy’s for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/ Sung Collaboration and has even been nominated and won various prestigious European music awards. With only two albums out (Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange), he is at the top of his game and is still recording.
Frank Ocean was born in Long Beach, California but soon moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where was influenced by the local jazz scene and loved music ever since. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit his hometown and destroyed his recording studio. With nothing left in New Orleans he decided to start new in Los Angeles. He got a songwriting deal and began writing songs for artist like Justin Bieber, John Legend, and BeyoncĂ©. As much as he liked writing songs he wanted to be a songwriter and perform his own songs. He began to record his own mix tapes. He joined rap groups and was featured in songs with big named rappers until his breakthrough single “Thinkin Bout You”.

http://frankocean.net/ · Frank Ocean Fansite
This is a link to Frank Ocean’s fansite. It is an online source for information and news about Frank Ocean. The website is frequently updated with information about his new music and collaborations. It has tabs with links to music, music vidoes, lyrics, photos, concerts, and more.

· New York Times Article 
This link is to an article by Jeff Himmelman for the New York Times that was published in 2013. I really liked this article because it shows how real and down to earth Frank Ocean is. It also goes through a little bit of his history along with some samples of his music sprinkled throughout the article.

http://frankocean.tumblr.com/ · Frank Ocean's tumblr
This link is to his personal tumblr where he posts pictures of his performances or just recreational pictures. He also posts some poems, links to ticket for his shows and merchandise, videos, and sneak peeks to his new music. It is a great way to connect to his fans on a personal level.

Dance 108 Blog – Frank Stella

            Even though I could have focused on a painter, signer, dancer, etc. that I was already a fan of I thought it would be more interesting to find a new artist that I liked to focus on.  I like abstract art, so after searching the Internet for abstract artists, I found Frank Stella.  Frank Stella makes some of the most unique, interesting pieces that I have ever seen and I was immediately drawn to it.  His artwork not only includes paintings but also elaborate sculptures of all different shapes. I really enjoy his use of lines, shapes, and colors.

This was a useful website because it broke information about Frank Stella into different sections so it was very easy to read.  There are sections like Frank Stella’s key ideas, his biography, and his legacy.  My favorite part is at the end, which includes multiple different Frank Stella quotes.

This was my favorite site about Frank Stella to view all of his different, wonderful masterpieces.  You can scroll down the page looking at hundreds of his pieces with the title and year of the piece and which gallery it is placed in.

This website had a detailed description about Frank Stella and shows very interesting sketches by Stella for different sculptures that I’m sure he intended to create.  The best part is that you can view a slideshow of his work.