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Let’s talk about art for a second…

Art is a funny thing.  It means different things to different people.  Some folks obsess over it and have dedicated their lives and fortunes to acquire it, steal it, or in some cases even kill for it.  Others couldn’t care less and just see it at something to hang over the sofa.  So before we go further, let me define what art is to me so that you’ll kinda understand where I’m coming from and why I felt the need to post about this particular artist.

An artist gives shape and form to ambiguous things like time and emotion… An artist is able to capture these moments through various mediums and frame them in such a way that they,like a mirror, reflect back to us who we are as an individual or as a society ;  Not only the glossy exterior but the nastier, darker bits that lurks underneath as well.

With a dabs of paint on a canvas, the shaping of metal, wood, or stone, or the click of a camera, an artist can show their work and say hey, this is you at your best, at your worst, your most intimate, or most absurd.  These reflections are, in a way, reactions to the past or present.  An artist can also move beyond reflection and engage the audience by provoking a response by creating images that either  inspire or condemn.

I’ve always enjoyed art since I was young and have observed that some of the greatest contemporary artist (meaning alive and working at the time) were great because they were to define the time they were in… they were able to give form to what society was feeling or doing at the time.  Names that stood out for me were Warhol and Peter Max in the 70’s, Avedon, Nagel, Haring and Kostabi in the 80’s.

The 90’s and early 2000’s was a time of artistic drought…my opinion anyway.  I say this because when asked to name a notable artist in that period, I just can’t think of any.  I know shortly after posting this my inbox will be flooded with emails from outraged artsy types giving me their lists of significant artists of the turn of the millennium but as I said in the past, art, like fashion, food, and cocktails, is a subjective thing whose worth is defined by the individual and this individual didn’t see a lot to get excited about the last 20 years…then along comes Tyler Shields.

Tyler Shields is an artist currently working out of LA.  He got his start directing music videos… so Wikipedia tells me.

His work is a mashup of art and celebrity not seen since Warhol you’ll hear that comparison a lot.  His images both dazzle and shock; pulling us into the familiar territories like  love and friendship or challenge us with images of the dark side of glamour.  It’s sex, and violence, celebrity and vice in the context of our lives as we are currently living it; it’s a reflection of us at this particular moment in time.

Tyler’s work, though playful and highly stylized, provokes a reaction and forces you to feel something whether it’s titillation a punch to the gut.   That’s why I feel it’s important, that’s why I’m posting this.  If you appreciate art be sure that Tyler Shields is one to watch.  Yes, there are going to be critics and controversy has a knack of following him with every show.  A photo shoot with Glee star Heather Morris (below) actually resulted several death threats directed at Tyler by some who have mistaken the theme to be the glorification of violence towards women; it was actually supposed to be this crazy Barbie thing.  In the end the matter was cleared up, much needed attention was brought to the subject of domestic abuse, and Tyler, in a gesture to make amends for the misunderstanding, raised significant funds (talkin’ big money) for one the top domestic abuse charities  per styleite

If you are fortunate to be in LA next month, he has a show one day only May 20th.  Open to the public you will be able to see a broader range of his work.  From sexy to sinister, it’s sure to be unforgettable…considering he literally shot someone at his last show… look it up, it’s a great story.

Tyler Shields “Mouthful” 


20th May, 2012 10 am – 6 pm,


Ace Gallery

Wilshire Tower, 5514 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90036

To see more of his work go for more info, go to TylerShields.com    AGALLERY

Xan Garcia

Xan Garcia

Founder and senior editor of VODA. Cocktailian, Journalist, Traveler, and the next Robin Leach.

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