Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Cool School Los Angeles : The Garden of Earthly Delights

Today, Saturday July 26th from 7 - 10pm The Cool School Los Angeles, in collaboration with Matters of Space, Kat and Roger of K&R Ceramics, Beth Katz of Mt. Washington Pottery, Jo Abellera of KKIBO, artist Nicola Vruwink, Karen Combs of Nama Rococo and many more Los Angeles based artists, will be hosting an inaugural art exhibition and design showcase. Included will be custom designed modern / minimalist furniture, hand-crafted macramé hanging planters, beautiful ceramic planter pots and original artworks.

clockwise starting top left: Nama Rococo, Nicola Vruwink, KKIBO, K&R Ceramics

clockwise starting top left: Matters of Space in collaboration with ceramicist Linda King, more of their work together, Mt. Washington Pottery, Rachael Pease

Everything will be playing off an initial concept that Shannon & Janna of The Cool School Los Angeles had in partnership with Matters of Space: to create a relaxing, indoor nursery-plant environment with botanical furniture. It soon became a broader goal, beyond bringing in local creatives, by putting out a call for entries from the art, craft and design communities outside of their Glendale neighborhood in order to connect with Los Angeles at large.

To complement the show, there'll host botanical-centric, art workshops including Botanical Drawing – where you create your own bamboo reed pens and learn about ink /wash techniques while drawing from their in-house nursery.

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Also upcoming from The Cool School are additional workshops:

Ceramic Bead Making with Beth Katz of Mt. Washington Pottery
August 9, 10, 17 from 1-5pm

Macramé Wall Hanging Workshop with Jo Abellera of KKIBO
Saturday & Sunday, August 23 & 24, 1 - 6pm

If you do both, you can totally work those magical ceramic beads into your own macramé piece!

link to all The Cool School Los Angeles Workshops

And as a mother to two boys, I certainly appreciate that they teach really wonderful Summer Camps and Classes for kids. 

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The Garden of Earthly Delights : A Botanic-Centric Art Exhibition and Design Showcase
Opening Reception July 26th, 7-10 pm
On view until August 31st
The Cool School Los Angeles | 1800 S Brand Blvd, Suite 110, Glendale, CA 91204

all photographs courtesy of artists and The Cool School Los Angeles

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rebekah Miles at Beatrice Valenzuela

Tonight, Friday July 25th, the Beatrice Valenzuela Flagship Boutique will be hosting a welcoming cocktail reception for the arrival of Rebekah Miles Ceramics. (and have you seen the delicious concoctions Bea makes?!)

On her hand painted ceramics:

I am primarily a painter using ceramics as my “canvas”. I started teaching myself ceramics as a way of exploring making paintings as functional, sculptural pieces. I draw inspiration from a seed savers exchange catalogue, an antique loteria set, fruits, flowers and animals. I love putting my personal touch on the age-old artisanal craft of shaping basic forms from slabs, molds and templates. I work in a community center with many ceramicists who have worked for decades.

On her hand painted book covers:

I paint one-of-a-kind book jackets on a range of subjects, specific artists, cultural topics, photographers and authors. The selected books are a reference to art history and the art of literature and libraries. I choose an image to paint for a cover illustration based on qualities such as poignancy and visual graphics. If the book is not illustrated, I find an image that is complementary to its contents. I may also choose to paint my version of the original illustration. The cover text is included in the painting (title, author and publisher) on a hand-cut paper jacket, using a heavy weight glossy paper and acrylic paints. This process gives the book a new essence, and restores it to better shape (I try to find used books). It also makes it a functional sculpture/painting.

Rebekah in the studio

The anqique loteria set that inspired her most recent works

Could you tell me about the selection you'll have at the Beatrice Valenzuela shop?

This collection was inspired by California / Mexican imagery, and specifically an antique loteria set (see above). . . . My process of selecting imagery has to do with the personal meaning of the subject matter, in this case the tradition of a game and the symbols of the cards, mostly natural elements (el nopal, la mariposa, el sol, el caballo) and grouping them in ways that compliment each other. Other series such as the seed savers catalogue pieces have a meaning for me as an ambassador of small farmers and keeping heirloom varieties alive. My work in different series is like a mismatched set of dishes and linens and flowers that are (hopefully) charming when put together.

You ceramic works are so illustrative and specific. It's beautiful to see your paintings translated onto a sculptural object in addition to flat surfaces. 

There is something lighter for me in painting functional objects vs. making paintings. For many years I made paintings, and I still love it, but I enjoy making small pieces that are more accessible.

Who / what / where inspires you?

Georgia O'Keeffe, art history from all times, road trips, listening to country music.

Rebekah also hosts the Municipal Watercolor Club at Municipal Winemakers tasting room in Santa Barbara. (check link for times / dates)

Rebekah's lovely works at the Echo Park Craft Fair this Spring 2014

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and photographs, Rebekah! Have a wonderful reception this evening!

Rebekah Miles Painted Ceramics at Beatrice Valenzuela
Welcoming Cocktail Reception Fri July 25th, 5 - 7pm
Collection will be available at the Flagship Shop
RSVP requested

all photographs courtesy of Rebekah except those taken at EPCF

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Studio Visit : May Sterchi of Himo Art

May Sterchi of Himo Art creates a stunning and unique take on the tradition of macramé from her home studio in San Diego, California. Although, I couldn't make it out to San Diego for a studio visit, May was so sweet to send some photographs and share her story.

May's love of the craft began in 2009 when she found a beautiful vintage macramé piece on eBay (see below) while looking for art to fill her home that she and her husband were remodeling themselves. She immediately fell in love with macramé, and from there, taught herself through vintage pattern books.

May: I became addicted to ropes since then and seems like there is no end to it ;-) It didn’t take long to start making my own designs after I learned the basic skills because I realized that it is much harder to try to recreate someone else's work than to make my own designs! I started my Etsy shop in April 2013. Etsy is such a wonderful place for crafters and artists. All of my opportunities have come through people finding me there. 

What does "Himo" mean?

HIMO means 'string' or 'cord' in Japanese.

What materials do you use in your work? What do you enjoy experimenting with?

100% cotton rope, 100% cotton cords, jute, sisal, various yarns, beads, brass, wood dowels, acrylic rods, aluminum, branches, rings, acrylic paints . . .

The vintage purchase that sparked May's journey into macramé.

May's grandparent's shrine in their backyard

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Most of my inspiration comes from my childhood memories. I was born in and grew up in Japan. As a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house. My grandfather was a priest in Mt. Fuji and there was a shrine in his backyard. It's over 200 years old and was one of my favorite places. I came up with a lot of imaginary stories about the shrine (see photo above): talismans, the gate, the pond. . . . Everything I saw there inspired me to be creative with no limits! I very much enjoy the feeling of being free. I was a weird kid! Those memories remain vividly with me and I will never forget. This is nice since it allows me to feel very close to my grandparents even though they are not with me anymore. And I often find my inspiration from the things I love such as ocean, nature, shapes, colors and beautiful things that catch my eye in daily life.

What artists do you admire?

I love watching movies and often find inspiration from the story or particular scenes. My latest collection for Urban Outfitters was the imagination story that was inspired by the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. I have been a huge fan of his since I was a kid. I get a lot inspiration from musicians as well. One macramé series called “The Rhythm” was inspired by the voice of Bobby McFerrin. I once made called “Fretless Beat” a rope art piece inspired by the one of the greatest bassists, Jaco Pastorius.

Whenever I meet mama artists and designers, I am always so curious about how they balance their work with family. As I've mentioned before, Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo has some really lovely interviews into the work / life balance topic.

How did you meet your husband? 

I met my husband about 15 years ago in my home town in Japan. I was playing a saxophone in a band and he was in the audience. We didn’t speak each other's language back then, but somehow it all worked out and we've been together ever since. We were married in 2002. He was planning to stay only a year but ended up living in Japan for over six years.

How do you balance motherhood with macramé? Is this your full-time practice?

I spend a lot of time on making the wall hangings, researching and looking for inspiration throughout the day, so I could say it is full time. However when my daughter is home, she is the no. 1 priority for me. She just started Kindergarten. I'm so excited but at the same time I wish that time could slow down a little bit. (me, too!)

Does your daughter enjoy making projects with you? 

She likes to see what I made and gives me a lot of encouragement. She'll say, "You did well Mommy! I love it!" It is so nice to see her excitement. She's showing some interest in knotting and I look forward to enjoying this together when she becomes old enough to learn.

What do you do together for fun around town?

I love spending time at the beach with my family.

I've been such a fan of May's intricate and creative take on macramé, play with color, shapes, space and the thoughtful names that go with each piece. I loved getting a peek into her studio and hearing how she manages the balance of motherhood, her craft, creativity and reflections on her journey.

Thank you so much, May!!

Her intricate and beautiful work can be found on her website, and Etsy shop,

all images courtesy of May Sterchi

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Timelessness of Motherhood

Today is my youngest, Reed's 5th birthday. I sigh because he will be starting kindergarten this fall and currently is in summer camp with "big" kids. All of which, undoubtedly, he totally digs. For all birthdays in our family (mine included!), we begin our mornings with a special sweet treat stocked with candles. Above is Reed's cupcake from our local bakery – which he already laid into before the candles went in, thus the schmutz around his mouth.

You may have seen this article floating around on HuffPo or Mashable via Facebook and it was perfect to see today: a Monday that I'm feeling particularly wistful about my youngest losing his baby qualities.

83-year old photographer Ken Heyman discovered in an old storage facility, "stashed inside dozens of old boxes hundreds of vintage prints and thousands of slides from assignments and books Heyman had done throughout his career. In one box was a folder marked “Mothers.” Many of these photographs were done for a book Heyman created with anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1965 called Family, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize the same year."

all photos by Ken Heyman

Needless to say, motherhood transcends cultural boundaries as well as time.

Huffington Post gave some funny quotes on Motherhood. Here's a couple:
"Mothers are all slightly insane." - J.D. Salinger
"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" - Milton Berle

My mother-in-law told me that as a mom, I would love this little being in a way that I had never felt before, and that it will feel so overwhelming and truer than anything else. She is right. Today is also my birthing day of my son.

Now I'm off to shirk work and other duties to whip up some old school rice krispie treats for his buddies at camp . . . which also reminds me about this piece that the Of A Kind gals brought up "on the Millenial take on 'homemaking'" and how it "draws an interesting line between femininity in the 1950s and today."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tehya Shea + Janelle Pietrzak : Woven Secrets, Textural Dreams at BellJar

Tomorrow, Friday July 18th, San Francisco's BellJar will be unveiling new ethereal weavings by Tehya Shea and Janelle Pietrzak with "Woven Secrets, Textural Dreams." Each piece is one-of-a-kind, hand woven with love and affection by these amazing women. The opening party is tomorrow night at the shop from 6–9 pm with the works on display and available for purchase for a month. 

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Tehya is a multidisciplinary artist with deep roots in the foothills of northern California in the old gold rush town of Nevada City, Ca. In childhood she began to experience and understand the attraction and importance of textile arts. Always drawn to pattern and texture, visual aesthetic informed her path from the very beginning. Influenced by her various homes in the west: Colorado, New Mexico, California, she has developed her craft in the spirit of the pioneers from the past, the constant searchers. 

In her recent work she has come home. This is evident in the way that she weaves together her stories, instincts and collected memories into textural landscapes of reflection and transformation. Letting the imperfections of being human flow, Tehya allows for the wild and untamed to inform her creations. She takes the scattered, torn and forgotten and gently brings them together into a graceful and cohesive whole that pays homage to, and even requires, the inherent flaws of the individual pieces. The balance of dark and light, the honesty of rough and delicate gives permission for imperfection to be honored as beauty. Tehya's history reflects a deep connection to the natural world, mysticism and magic. 

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Janelle is a Los Angeles textile artist, working under the name All Roads. After 10 years in the fashion industry, she is now a full time artist. Her work is a nod to the nostalgic fiber art of the mid-century, but with unique color combinations and materials. All Roads is a creative workshop and textile studio in Los Angeles and is a culmination of past experiences and a collective of skill sets. Carpentry, welding, sewing and weaving are trades combined to solve design challenges and create objects and spaces.

opening reception Friday July 18th,  6-9pm
on exhibit through mid August
Bell Jar  |  3187 - 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

all images courtesy of the artists and BellJar

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Knotwork LA Pop-Up at MOCA Los Angeles

Beginning this Saturday July 19th through August 9th, Knotwork LA's beautiful ceramic and wood wares, home goods and little creatures (see cuties above) will be available at their Pop-Up in the Los Angeles MOCA Store on Grand Ave. (Yipee!!) The kick-off will be this Saturday from 3-5pm with the lovely creators and sweet couple, Linda Hsiao and Kagan Taylor on site. Their pieces always make for wonderful gifts to stock up on, but oh so good for yourself, too!

Linda and Kagan took some time to answer some questions about this month-long Pop-Up and their process:

Could you also tell me a bit about what's showing at the pop up?

Knotwork: We will be officially introducing Linda's Porcelain Inlay series in a variety of vases / vessels, large platters and small plates; as well as a large collection of our Creatures, a variety of our handmade wooden utensils and our wooden rattles.

How did the Knotwork LA Pop-Up at MOCA come to be?

MOCA's buyer saw a rattle postcard and came to our house for a visit and to buy some for the store and saw the rest of our work. She suggested a Knotwork LA Pop-up, we were happy to oblige!

Throughout your photography and the practical pieces you create, food seems to be an element when manifesting your work... What are you thinking of when you're creating the ceramic creatures, pottery and wooden objects?

Our work is focused on tools for living, specifically things we ourselves would use and find beautiful. Linda loves growing her own food and cooking and that combined with Kagan's need to spend every waking moment in his shop was what began the creation of our handmade wooden utensils.

Could you tell me about the phrase you have incorporated into your logo, "made in our spare time."

Made in our spare time is how Knotwork LA came to be.
We both have other careers, Linda as a freelance eyewear designer and Kagan as a design / build architect. Knotwork LA started from what we do outside of that, although it obviously draws from our professional experience and expertise. It is who we are – we simple enjoy making things and would be doing it anyways. Knotwork also suggests a certain intimacy with our products: they are things we make for gifts for our friends or as something we need. We don't look at the market and ask, "What is missing? What could we make money on?" We make these things because we like them and continue making them only as long as we enjoy that process. It is after all our spare time.

top photo by Conor Collins

Thanks so much Linda and Kagan!

July 19 - August 9
reception Saturday July 19th 3-5 pm
MOCA Store on Grand Ave  |  250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

all images courtesy of Knotwork LA

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Workshops with Otherwild + Women's Center for Creative Work

The two super rad forces of Otherwild and The Women's Center for Creative Work combine to host a series of Summer Camp Workshops.

images (except top) courtesy of Otherwild

Otherwild is a retail store and graphic design studio here in Los Angeles. The shop / studio is dedicated to carrying beautifully designed and curated selection of goods from "jewelers, perfumers, ceramicists, herbalists, musicians, witches, dancers," . . .  all individual artists and designers rather than companies of mass-made products.

I love how in the bottom image, all the women are working in different mediums

The Women's Center for Creative Work is a collective cultural work space based on "inclusivity, process-based reality and transparency" with the purpose to support female creatives of all endeavors. They are interested in thinking "about how creativity and artistic practice can play a role in all all sorts of work and life practices" and to "create a sometimes roving, sometimes static platform where the idea of being a maker can be explored through the discourse around what constitutes a making practice." (uh YES!) By looking back at previous feminist models like the Feminist Studio Workshop in the Woman's Building in Los Angeles and at other current women's co-work spaces in the U.S. such as Double Union in San Francisco, they are aiming to offer a "collective workspace to provide an environment of solidarity and community, a sanctuary where women with all sorts of small businesses, artistic practices and personal projects can come get some work done within a supportive atmosphere." (again, YES!) more info here.

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At the Otherwild shop in Echo Park, you can learn or just hone your skills in basket weaving with Nanette Sullano, tie-dye with Maricolous, letterpress printed book-making with Bullhorn Press, preserving plant medicine with Homestead Apothecary and fermentation with Emily Ho.

Links and details for all classes are below. But to start, the ladies of Otherwild and Women's Center for Creative Work gave me some insight to this series and their collaboration.

How did Otherwild (OW) and The Women's Center for Creative Work (WCCW) come to know each other?

WCCW: We all knew or knew of and admired Rachel and Otherwild before really getting WCCW up and running. Rachel (Berks of Otherwild) and Sarah (Williams, Managing Director at WCCW & also for many years has with Bettina Korek at ForYourArt) had a chance to really get to know each other and work together when Otherwild participated in ForYourArt’s project for the Hammer Museum’s Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood by creating a crystal bar. And since WCCW’s gotten going, we’ve found all sorts of great ways to work together!

What have you done together in the past? Are you joining forces to bring more focus on feminism in LA together? (yowza major radness!!)

WCCW: Rachel has been an early days super supportive member of WCCW and so generous in making her space available, connecting us with her collaborators and offering help at every turn. We host the ongoing Feminist Reading Group every other week at Otherwild (currently reading Caliban and the Witch) and now we have this series of great workshops.

This is a heavy loaded multi-tiered question, but of course I have to ask: How do you see feminism and women coming together in LA now? (How do you see it in the creative fields? What do you think needs to change, if any, and what is lacking?)

WCCW: One of our goals is to remove the need to apologize or feel heavy about serious questions about feminism. We’ve felt a serious surge of interest in feminism within our contemporary art and design communities. As WCCW reaches out past those initial groups, we also hear it echoed throughout the architecture, writing, film and television communities. I think as people get excited about these ideas, as we did, they make the realization that the only way we can make change and feel less alienated in the world is by forming groups, and creating real connections with people. I think what we all need, and what we’re trying to cultivate with WCCW, are ways of communing with each other – especially across boundaries that would generally keep us separate. We’re doing this with the workshops at Otherwild, with the Feminist Reading Group and Consciousness Raising groups, with the dinners. ... These all bring people together, who might not have otherwise met each other, not have talked about their lives, not have made something together.

How did you come about with this series and how did you pick the artists / makers that would host them?

OW: As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to attend an incredible arts camp in Connecticut, called Buck’s Rock Camp. There you could learn glassblowing, metal-smithing, batik, weaving, woodworking and modern dance, to name a few. Buck’s Rock has always been an inspiration to me and Otherwild. Hosting workshops in a variety of creative disciplines felt like a natural progression of the shop. Everyone wants to buy handmade these days, and many want to also learn the skills to make with their own hands.

Could you tell me a bit about the workshops? And the price ($45 for most classes) is kind of amazing. You don't get much lower than that.

OW: I liked the idea of hosting a Summer Camp at Otherwild, especially since I know so many talented, creative people with tremendous skills. We’ve only begun to scratch at the surface of what Otherwild artists / designers can share and teach. I am interested in activating this space in many ways – and workshops are just one. We have also hosted readings, live music, dance performance, a food swap, vintage clothing sales and the feminist reading group through WCCW. (and I've gone to a wonderful book launch party there, too!) The Summer Camp prices are as low as possible so that hopefully many people find them affordable, while still providing the instructor with a proper fee for the time and skill-sharing.

Lastly, as a graphic designer, I'm a fan of Otherwild's studio design work and love the rad combo logo of OW + WCCW. Is that your genius Rachel? Damn, girl - you are gooood! (more of Rachel's work here)

OW: Thanks, Sherise. The overlapping OWWCCW came out of a conversation between Kate Johnston (Creative Director of WCCW & a freelance designer) and myself during the last WCCW women’s dinner. It felt appropriate to create a logo that reflected the spirit of this collaboration.

(Not mentioned specifically above, but also a team member of WCCW is artist Katie Bachler, Director of Community & Community Programs and currently on residency at The Baltimore Museum of Art.)

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Ashley at Eastside Handmade this spring with her beautiful woven and dyed goods

Tie-Dye with Maricolous
Saturday, July 19th, 2-5pm
Tie and dye has been practiced for centuries and in many cultures; to carry on the continuum, fiber reactive dyes and resist techniques will be used to create fun surface designs.
Ashley Thayer of Maricolous Textiles will be leading this class.

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Thursday, July 24th at 6pm
(currently sold out, but you can sign up for the wait list)
This workshop covers the essentials of preserving plant based medicines including the basics of water-based medicines, tinctures, vinegars and beyond. You'll learn when to harvest and how to use easily accessible plants, get an overview of preservation methods and make a take-home tincture.
Taught by Nicholas Weinstein of Homestead Apothecary. (see more about this lovely Oakland-based apothecary here and here)

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Letterpress Printed Bookmaking with Bullhorn Press
Saturday July 26th 11am-2pm
Who doesn't love letterpress? In this workshop you'll learn the basics of operating a Vandercook letterpress, create a piece to print and then construct into a book without the use of stitching or glue.

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Thursday, August 14th at 6pm
Lacto-fermentation is an ancient food preservation method used to make sauerkraut, kimchi and lots of other flavorful and probiotic-rich foods from salsa to soda. In this workshop, you'll learn how to confidently and creatively ferment food in your kitchen and start your own jar of fermented pickles and ginger soda along with some recipes to try out at home.
Taught by Emily Ho of Roots & Marvel. Emily is a writer, educator and consultant, as well as a Master Food Preserver and founder of the LA Food Swap.

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Basket Weaving with Nanette Sullano
Sunday, August 17th 10am - 4pm
Due to high demand, a second class was added after the first quickly sold-out class last weekend (images of this one directly above).
This is an introductory workshop to learn how to coil and shape a basket with locally foraged pine needles, using the swirling stitch with sustainably grown cotton yarn. It is also a gathering – of learning, sharing stories and weaving your personal story into a vessel holding small treasures. From what is taught, you can use as a foundation for weaving with other plant materials and fibers.

images other than those mentioned, courtesy of OW + WCWW

Thanks much to Rachel of Otherwild and the ladies of Women's Center for Creative Work for taking the time to speak to this and share images! I'm heading to this weekend's Tie Dye session. So, hopefully I'll see some of you there :)

various dates and times listed above

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here Is Me : Debbie Carlos + Cortney Cassidy

Here Is Me is a photo collaboration by Debbie Carlos and Cortney Cassidy, published by CCOOLL. There will be a one-night event at City Limits Gallery in Oakland celebrating the release of this zine, which was created by the photographers conversationally responding to each other's photos and slowly building a dialogue of images. 

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 above images courtesy of Debbie

Debbie Carlos is a photographer, jeweler and runs an online shop of beautifully printed posters and ephemera of her work and other artists. She was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Manila, Philippines and came back to the states to study psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts and photography at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. I had the opportunity to do a studio visit (and awesome day of fun with her and Meghan Bogden Shimek of Native Textile) in Michigan earlier this summer and will posting that in the future.

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above images courtesy of Cortney

Cortney Cassidy is a visual designer, artist, photographer, musician and amateur writer in Oakland, CA. She is a founder CCOOLL, a part-time design studio focused on collaborative projects with a community of internet friends. I met her (left below) at Printed Matter's LA Art Book Fair with Lynda (right below) of La Motocyclette – super rad independent publication on the new wave of female motorcyclists.

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published by CCOOLL, prints and copies of the zine will be available for purchase
book release and gallery show (one night only) : Friday, July 11th, 7-11pm