Monday, April 22, 2013

Artist Spotlight: ALDO MONTES

If photographer Aldo Montes had to be summed up in a catch phrase it would be "That's what's up!" Not only is it the spirited yet laid-back response I've witnessed Aldo use in many different contexts, it is his general attitude and approach towards life, and the kind of reaction I believe is achieved when viewing his photos and drawings. I had the pleasure of sitting down and asking Aldo Montes some questions about his life and work. 
He has an upcoming solo show Tuesday, May 14th at the Tin Can. His brother DJ Active will be playing some records and POLYPHASE (Brian Ellis) will be performing a live set.

MAGIC BROTHERHOOD: Where did you grow up? Could you tell us a little bit about your background and upbringing?

ALDO MONTES: I grew up and still currently live in Escondido, East Mission and Grape Street! Still living in the same two bedroom apartment since I was born. I'm the youngest of four. I'm first generation born in the U.S. my family moved from Tijuana to Escondido in 1986 because my sister had cystic fibrosis and the hospitals here had treatments to help her. My mom had her tubes tied before I was born, and I still came out somehow.
I don't want to say I live in a rough neighborhood, but I did see a dude get shot when I was 5 in front of my house and the friends that I would hang out with would do some straight up hoodlum shit, but I was too much of a whimp. While they were shoplifting CDs at the K-mart I was at my house playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. I was a weird kid growing up.
In preschool I would get sent home because I would imitate Beavis and Butthead, middle school I would do stupid shit and did really bad in school, and high school I took the same pre-algebra class for four years. I sucked so much, I had my friends do my homework (shout outs to Sebastian, Victor, and Victor's little brother). I feel like at the end of high school I had an appreciation for art. That's when I started making beats, graffiti, and learned about photography thanks to my friends Devin, Cindya, and David.

(Aldo's sister, mom, Aldo, brother)

MB: When/how did you get your start with photography?

AM: At the end of high school my friend Devin was shooting a bunch of photos with his 35mm camera and when he developed them I was like “Oh snap! The way those look is so clear, way different from my parents photos in our albums.” Then my homegirl Cindya and her boyfriend would pick me up from school and she would show me framed photos and really awesome portraits that she had done. She fucked with film, showed me the legit side of photo, but I think it was also the first time I saw a DSLR too so I was tripped out about that too. Also, my friend David and I went to the same community college and would show me his photos he took at the photo lab during our screen printing class, and that got me into taking photos too. I bought my first 35mm Pentax k-1000 for $10. I hated the assignments in school, I just wanted to shoot people, document the things that I'd see on a regular basis. I won second place for the documentary competition at school but didn't get the money because of my poor GPA. Fortunately I got to work at the photo lab for two years as a lab tech and got to work with the chemical processing, maintaining equipment, and learning about the different formats. All of my work is film never, owned a digital camera.

MB: You also draw... would you say there is a parallel or similar subject matter in your drawing and your photo work? If not, what makes it different?

AM: My drawings are totally parallel with my photos. With my drawings, I don't take things as serious or try to make them look as nice. I just want to be straight to the point, make people laugh, or be like, "Why did he draw that?" Most of them stem from inside jokes I have with my friends, just the weird funny shit that pops in my imagination. I feel like I can do whatever I want with my drawings, I don't need to tell a story. It is what it is. If I want to draw a California burrito dressed up like Boy George I can do it, and I would feel great about it.

MB: What inspires you?

AM: My friends, TV, the internet, the devil's lettuce, jokes, rap music, J.O. crystals, fast food, the finest of malt liquors, trying to show people the dopest, saddest, and funny aspects of life… that's what inspires me.
MB: Who are some of your favorite artists?

AM: Oh man... I have so many.

Chaz Boroquez, Mike Giant, Peter Beste, Estevan Oriol, El Mac, Aroe, Grime, Nas, Three Six Mafia, Twist, Mike Judge, Max Ernst, Chuck Close, So Me, Mark Drew, David Choe, Aaron Horkey.  Dang, wish I could put more.

MB: You have an upcoming solo show, titled CHILL HARD, Tuesday May 14th at the Tin Can. First of all, what can you tell us about the name of the show (because I think that's the best name for an art show I've seen in a while), and what can we look forward to seeing in this show?

AM: Thanks! Chill Hard for me is a way of living and it's a big part of my vocabulary… It means taking life for what it is and not stressing about the bullshit. Drink a brew, smoke a grip of blunts and chill hard. JUST CHILL HARD. And for the all of you looking forward to the show expect funny hamburgers drinking 40s, some girl smoking Whitney Houston's ashes, some hood shit, people in their last moments on earth… some really deep shit, and some funny stuff. You gotta have a good balance of both. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone there. and I hope you guys like it.
Thank you for this awesome opportunity, Danica. You're awesome.  

Friday, April 12, 2013


Thank you everyone who came out to the show on Tuesday, thank you Noa and Sacri Monti for providing endless talent, and thank you Tin Can for letting us put these nights on every month! Super fun, hope to see you next month.





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Magic Brotherhood in San Diego CityBeat

Last week Magic Brotherhood got interviewed by San Diego CityBeat to discuss some of the upcoming projects we have going on. Check it out here!
photo courtesy Amanda Leigh Smith

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Artist Spotlight: NOA AZOULAY

Noa is a rad lady that I recently met and instantly fell in love with. An established photographer, her own photography company (Feather Love Photography), an upcoming show April 9th at the Tin Can... I had a lovely interview with this lady the other day.

MAGIC BROTHERHOOD: Noa, you are an amazingly talented photographer. How did you get your start taking pictures?
NOA AZOULAY: Thank you for the kind words. I grew up surrounded by it. My dad was a photographer for most of my childhood. We had a dark room at home and I was always so intrigued with the entire process. Watching someone love something like that makes you want that experience too. His best friend was this amazing Russian weirdo stoner photographer, and the esoteric conversations they used to have were so fascinating. I think I saw the connection between being an artist and those philosophical, metaphysical, and other strange subjects and I became captivated with all that and have been ever since. I’m really not very into technical or “correct” photography per se in regards to focus, crop, correct exposure etc.
I feel that most of the work I see out there that really speaks to me generally breaks most photographic rules, hitting those other layers that I am so into- as I like to say: give me a choice between Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus, and I’m going with Arbus… My father started to teach me about photography and bought me my first camera when I was 11 years old. I still shoot on it, and in fact many of the photos that will be at the show were shot on that same camera.

MB: Tell us a little bit about your life growing up.
NA: I’m a Sabra (born in Israel) and we immigrated to South Africa when I was 4 years old where I had to quickly learn how to speak English. I always had an intense connection with animals, which we had many of. My sister used to say that on the farm we lived on, when they couldn’t find me anywhere, they would go look in the dog bed where I would be cuddled up with some lovely creature.

Photo by dad on our farm in S. Africa
I moved to the states on my own when I was 15 after a terrible, yet heavily life-altering acid trip, to attend this amazing hippie global consciousness school in New Mexico. We did tons of meditating and walking on fire and standing on ice and past-life regressions and running around naked and stuff like that.
Chris Griscom & The Nizhoni School - Photo credit: unknown
I lived with people from all over the world who are still my friends and anytime I go to Europe there’s always someone there that offers a place to stay, even if we haven’t seen each other in 20 years. It’s really beautiful. I had also attended another international boarding school in South Africa and have the same connections through that until this day.
I was in that school in Santa Fe for a year then moved back to South Africa, but within a few months moved back (ran away) to the states with my family- It was a terribly scary and violent time in that country then. Right after Mandela was released from prison, the “New South Africa”, and the entire government changed and everything was so dangerous, people could barely leave their homes. Our house got shot up by machine guns and well, anyways, we had to bail on that so we moved back to Santa Fe, (which has been my home 3 different times so far in my life). I moved to San Diego when I was 19. I haven’t been back to Africa since we left.

MB: Who or what inspires you?
NA: Most recently, artist/icon/fiery soul Vali Myers has been a huge source of inspiration. I’m reading the biography written about her, written by her lover of 30 years, and the synchronicities between her and I are blowing my mind. Especially the relationship she had with her wild fox/animal familiar “Foxy” – known as the “beloved daughter of Vali Myers”. I had a relationship like that with a beautiful black cat named Russia for 17 years- the love of my life- who died on December 2nd 2011.
Vali’s philosophies on life, her unique style, her quotes and ideas, her incredibly beautiful work, and her fierce spirit both inspire me and connect with me deeply. I feel so much in common with her. “She believed that an artist should never have [human] children, especially a female artist, who should give all their heart’s blood and spirit to her work”. And apparently, she also really loved getting her ass rubbed.  
Another huge source of inspiration to me over the past couple of years has been Larry Moss, one of the top acting coaches in the world, and I have attended 2 of his intensive workshops in LA as an auditor. He truly deeply understands and loves artists more than anyone I have ever been around.

Besides that, there isn’t much that doesn’t inspire me- I’m fortunate enough to know so many beautiful artists, actors & musicians.

This is a little video I shot of Tim & Nicki Bluhm during a photo session I did of them at my home for their Duets album:

Much of my work is heavily inspired by the esoteric, occult, metaphysical, psychedelic, and nature/universal law.

MB: Are there any creative endeavors you would like to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven't yet?
NA: I have made one short experimental art film:
The Alchemical Poisoning Of Magus Sherwood (featuring music by, & starring members of, ASTRA):

The Alchemical Poisoning Of Magus Sherwood from Noa Azoulay-Sclater on Vimeo.
I would love to make a full feature one day. I have also played music in several different projects over the years and haven’t really had the time to dedicate myself to it for a while. I miss it immensely, so I would love to eventually dabble in that again. I’m not very good at either of those things but I still love them. Acting is definitely the art form I hold at highest regard and is simultaneously my biggest fear. I haven’t done much of it but it would be incredible to be able to study and pursue that one day.  
 The most ultimately creative thing to do is travel, and I do that as well and as often as possible.
MB: I'm so excited about your upcoming show April 9th at Tin Can, which will feature some of your latest work! What can we expect to see at this show?
NA: Absolutely my most personal work yet. Mostly featuring images I haven’t shared yet that I have shot over the past year or so, since my entire life has changed drastically, in every way. I’m still making the selections, which may be a combination of some older work as well as the new work. Expect some portraiture shot on film- a study of myself through other people, people who have profoundly influenced my life as of late- friends, lovers, beautiful muses. Each one of them has changed me or inspired me in one way or another. I guess if I had to title this show, I would title it: MUSE.
MB: Any projects we can look forward to in the near future?
NA: Yes. Except for I don’t know what they are yet.

MB: Thanks so much for sharing with Magic Brotherhood, and can't wait to see you and your work at Tin Can Tuesday April 9th!!
NA: I am truly, deeply so honored to be a part of this. Thank you! I’m beyond excited.

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