Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This morning...

Like many other Washingtonians, I ride the Metro to work in the morning. My commute generally goes something like this; get on the train, put in my ear phones and tune out to my itunes. Pretty basic. Well this morning, my listening to Rick James was interrupted by a most interesting man, who did something so shocking and profound that it caused a stir amongst the other Metro passengers...he started a conversation with myself and another woman that was sitting near him. Yes, he went there and spoke to, get this, complete strangers.
Honestly, I was glad he verbally reached out to me, kind of shook my morning up a bit. We talked about sports in school, the Redskins and the ungodly cold temperatures. Clearly the woman sitting to my right was not feeling him. Not only was she rolling her eyes the whole time this gentleman was speaking she even went as far as to tell him to be quiet. I couldn't phatom the nerve of that bitch. The man was speaking at an appropriate noise level, conversing about sports and the weather and from what I could see was fairly sane.

Not to mention that we were on public transportation.

I mean really folks, when did talking become offensive? When did simply reaching out and saying, "Good morning, hope you enjoy your day" become a personal attack?
As the new year approaches I hope that we can all loosen up and learn to be more inviting to each other.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday Kind Of Love - Poetry Reading/Open mic

People either love or hate poetry readings. For some they conjur up images of smoky coffee shop filled with artsy fartsy people snapping and sub par poets going on and on about love and "the struggle". Luckily, this reading won't be like that. Well, not really it is technically at a coffee shop, but there will be no snapping and the poets are some of the best in the DC area. The open mic will be hosted by Katy Richey and Melissa Tuckey. Poets include Derrick Weston Brown and Dan Vera. If you have no idea who these people are, just click on their names, but trust me they are good!

Sunday Kind of Love will be at Bus Boys and Poets (2021 14th St NW).
On Sunday December 21 from 4-6PM

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beat Grinders

This is the 6th anniversary of the Beat Grinder competitions and this time around they are paying homage to Gil Scott Heron. Wondering what the hell a Beat Grinder Competition is, well it's a Washington DC beat making competition where ten producers will battle for the very coveted Beat Grinder Crown. It is said to be the "only beat making competition that matters for DC" I don't know about that, but it is the only one I've ever heard about. The event is hosted by Grap Luva and DJ's Underdog and Damu the Fudgemunk will be spinning.
Info: Wed. December 17, 2008. Beat Grinders starts at 9PM and goes until 2AM. @ Liv (2001 11th Street NW above Bohemian Caverns)

For more info email underdog@majordc.com

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Strange Bodies: Figurative Works from the Hirshhorn Collection

Remember the big naked guy on the bottom floor of the Hirshhorn? He's back! Along with a slew of other sculptures, paintings, and mixed media pieces representing the human form. The bulk of the pieces were donated by John Hirshhorn. The collection includes pieces by Ron Mueck, William De Kooning, and Julian Schnabel.

Strange Bodies runs December 11, 2008 to early 2010
For more information visit the Hirshhorn Museum

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion...

Just Like A Girl is one of the most interesting anthologies I have had the pleasure of reading. Each piece (all written by women) is so unique in form and content that it's impossible to slip this book into a particular genre. No subject is off limits, from dating thugs to breast, to masturbation. These women are fearless in their creativity.

For more information or to purchase the book visit GirlChild Press

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interview w/ Dionne McDonald

Q: When did you start taking photos?

A:I started taking photos after I had my daughter in 05'. I was on leave, and had a lot of time to myself, it was then I discovered that I had a thing for photography.

Q: What are your inspirations?

A: I love real, raw life; that shit inspires me more than anything else. Human nature and how ugly we can be.On the flip, I enjoy a beautiful person as my subject moving past a "pose" and being their true self. I love working with a person and making them feel so comfortable, they shed the armor and show me their inner self.

Q:Any big projects coming up?

A:I am working on a coffee table book it'll just be images and poetry. It'll be available to the public late Spring ‘09

Q:What messages do you hope to convey with your work?

A:I like to inspire people to think outside of their comfort zones. I want people to find beauty in all aspects of life and to appreciate the struggle.

Q:How do feel when people say digital photography is not real photography?

A:I ignore it; what’s real anyway? With both film and digi you still prop and prep people, you still stage things, and the photos could still turn out to be a hot mess.
I think people who don't use digital cameras, think people that use digital cameras have it easier and in a way we do. Why wouldn’t you want to have it easy?
I could have a piece of shit camera and still catch something beautiful. I do feel its important to learn as much as you can about photography. I’ve actually been experimenting with film a lot lately.

Q:I notice you enjoy taking photos of the human form, why?

A:There is art to the human form. Body language is exciting! Lets someone know if you want them or hate them without saying a word. I think movement is sexy , gracefulness and strength .

Q:What’s your personal creative philosophy?

A:I have learned over the past few years, that I am more comfortable when I am myself wholeheartedly. If I’m feeling sexy and sexual I will more than likely create a photo that represents that vision. I infuse my work with whatever emotion I am feeling at the time.
Individuality drives me. Knowing that whatever I do, will never be the same as what someone else does. Creativity is not a competition, everyone has their own way of sharing their creative vision.. music, painting, writing, speaking, making love, being a parent, we each have our own gifts to share
I also believe in letting go and going with the flow of things!

Q: Where can we see your work?

A:I did all of the photos for SurockBeats.com and Bravenewbreed.com. I also did a spread for H.A.S. magazine

For more info on Dionne McDonald you can email her at Dionne.Marie@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You Broke? You buy.

Aniekan is having a huge art sale. He is getting rid of all his older works to make way for more new and exciting pieces!

For more info email ChocolateMilkDC@gmail.com
Visit Aniekan at www.myspace.com/aniekan

Another event brought to you by the Pink Line Project (Phillipa Hughes). Should be interesting there will be a fashion show, live t-shirt stenciling and of course...a panel discussion.

Friday, December 12
6 - 11 pm
@ Arlington Arts Center
3550 Wilson Boulevard
(Metro: Virginia Square)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mos Def is hands down one of the best hip hop artist of our time. His first release with Talib Kweli under the group name Black Star was packed with soulful jazzy beats and poetic lyrics it quickly became an instant classic. Years later, Mos Def dropped his first solo album, Black on Both Sides which was just s good if not better than the Black Star album. Mos Def is known for touching on spiritual and political issues with deep sympathy and humor. In addition to being a hip hop genius he has bona fide acting and vocal skills. The boy got talent! So, when I heard about him performing at the Kennedy Center with a full orchestra my emotions went from shock to pure delight. It's about time Mos Def got recognized for what he is; an amazing artist.

Catch Mos Def at The Kennedy Center September 21, 2008 at 7PM.
I know this show is months away, but trust me you want to get your tickets as soon as possible!
Tickets range from $20-$50.
For more info and to buy tickets visit www.kennedy-center.org

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jack Davey and Brook D'leau are J*davey, an electro soul force duo with sexy lyrics and colorful visuals. There music is reminiscent of Prince, reminds you of some neo soul shit, but sounds like nothing you've heard before. To quote Quest Love "J*Davey is the swift kick in the ass I've been praying for Black music to produce"...and that they are!

Go check them tommorrow (6/5/08) at Bohemian Caverns (11th and U Streets).
Tickets will run you $15 if you get them in advance (ie, right now)
Show starts at 7PM and ends at 1:30pm
DJ 2 Tone Jones will also be spinning.

For more ticket info check here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Green Apple Festival for Earth Day is throwing one of the best concerts of the Spring. The Roots, Thievery Corporation, Talib Kweli and so many more will be performing on the National Mall. There will also be guest speakers including Chevy Chase (yep, dude from Caddy Shack) and green tech exhibits. The best part about this celebration is that it's from 12 noon until 7pm, so you it will be the perfect time to pack a blanket, a salad and head down to the Mall. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE!

For more information visit: The Green Apple Festival

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you.

I have been neglecting Chocolate Milk for a while, but blame it on my head and not my heart. I am starting a new (creative) gig on Monday, and I have been traveling the globe, well the DC area, searching for cool events to tell you about.

Here is a line up from Friday to Monday.

Friday: The Hirshhorn's Art Night. The tickets are selling out fast though, so if you wanna go, get your tickets right now here.

Saturday: Dissident Display is having a crazy all night Loft party that ends at 5AM! (DJ) Adrian Loving just got back from the Winter Music Conference in Miami and he and a host other hot DJ's are going to show off their skills! For more information or to RSVP email Dissident Display.

If that is too much for you, check out the Money Earnin' Mount Vernon event at the Scion House in BMore. DJ Two Tone Jones will be spinning and there will be complimentary (free) beer and wine.
I just saw some of the installations, and all I have to say is that them AM Radio cats got talent!

Sunday: Lay around and watch reruns of What's Happening.

Monday: Saul Williams is performing at the 930 Club!

There ya' have it. Three events to keep you busy until Tuesday! I will be at the Hirshhorn on Friday, and the Scion house on Saturday, so if you're a reader introduce yourself; I wanna meet you!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I am more than likely going to be covering this event for Richmond Worldwide Underground, so after Sunday I'll write a detailed post on how it was. If ya' don't know about Harriet's Alter Ego's Check out her site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

AM Radio has parterned with Scion to create LOCATION, an interactive art installation in a four story Baltimore townhome. The residence has been completley revamped with original paintings and sculptures by area artist. LOCATION will host a weeks worth of events with a revolving door of DJ's and performers.
For more info visit Inspire Location
Below is the schedule of events and the gallery/LOCATION hours.
Money Earnin' Mount Vernon (Public)
April 5th 6-10pm

Closing Event (Public)
April 12th 7-11pm

Exhibit Closes its Doors
April 19th
Gallery Hours of Operation:Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday Noon-7pmSaturday11am-5pm

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Wreckfest's closing party in the Tiffany Gallery of the Arlington Arts Center is going to be a day and night long event filled with a fashion show, live graffiti installations and panel discussions about graffiti art and the influence of Hip Hop Culture. Jobyl A. Boone, one of the co-curators from the Smithsonian’s Recognize exhibit will be speaking on the panel. If you read this here blog then you already know how I feel about the Recognize exhibit, but in any case, I still think the closing night of Wreckfest is going to be dope.

For more information just click on the flyer to enlarge it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

De La Soul and 9th Wonder

De La Soul will be performing with 9th Wonder at MCCXXIII (1223). Even though the choice of venue is odd to say the least, this show should still be amazing. It's been awhile since De La Soul performed in DC, so this is definitely a treat. The only downside is that Thursday is MCCXXIII's 18 and over night, so be prepared to party with folks that probably don't truly remember who the hell De La Soul is. To be honest 1223 isn't one of my favorite spots in town, let's face it; it sucks and is pretty pretentious most nights, but it's worth the ride for De La Soul!

MCCXXIII is at 1223 Connecticut Ave.
Doors open at 8:30pm
This event is free with a pass/ticket.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The guys over at Laced are doing it again, this with live sneaker installation by SDTV, live art by Greg the Color Slinger, and fashions by Bliki Clothing.

It's going down Thursday, March 20, 2008 at the Cue Bar

For more information visit Sol Source

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Five Senses: More Than Meets the Eye

J. Lewis Takahashi

Sun Kyoun Kim

The Target Gallery of the Torpedo Factory is hosting an exhibit entitled The Five Senses: More Than Meets the Eye. Many of the pieces in this exhibition are three dimensional and functional. F. Lennox Campello of the Daily Campello Art blog curated this event and did an amazing job, I might add.

The Five Senses: More than Meets the Eye runs through April 6, 2008. The opening night is March 13, 2008, 6-8pm. Mr. Campello will give a gallery talk at 7pm.

For more info visit, The Torpedo Factory Arts Center

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Africans Film Festival

The American Film Institute is hosting the fourth annual New African Films Festival. Independent films from all across the continent of Africa will be shown, including the US premiere of Tartina City. Danny Glover will be speaking at the opening night showing of Ezra, the story of kidnapped child forced to fight as a soldier in the rebel’s army. Their will also be a post screening reception hosted by Red Calabash.

The New Africans Film Festival runs from March 7, 2008 – March 17, 2008. The opening night reception is on March 7th and starts at 7pm.

For a schedule of movie times and ticket information for the opening please visit AFI

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lost & Foundling

Eric Pfeffinger’s Lost Foundling is filled with adult innuendos but is animated enough to keep restless children entertained while keeping their parents laughing out loud. Lost and Foundling is a fairytale about a child named Pryce, played by Taisha Cameron who is raised in a mega Price Mart (think Wal Mart). Her family consists of Price Mart a cast of endearing and hilarious Price Mart employees. When Pyce turns ten she sets off to the other side of the store for an adventure that is equipped with monsters; the slasher and the demanding shopper and barriers such as the never-ending line. It’s truly an original play that children (over 6) and adults will love. I went to go see it alone and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s very modern, fresh and even sarcastic at times.

The last showing of Lost and Foundling is this weekend, so pack up the kids (or just your self) and go see it!

Visit the Imagination Stage for more information

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Street Phenomenon

I’m sure many of you have heard about or seen the hip hop exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. I went to go see it and heard David Scheinbaum speak about his photography and his personal experiences with hip hop, and how he was so surprised at the love that he received in the hip hop community, blah, blah, blah. As a self proclaimed hip hop head, I can’t say I was impressed with the exhibit or Scheinbaum. The exhibit seemed a little patronizing. Hip hop has been around for years; it’s one of the most influential art forms in the modern world. Music, dance and visual art have all been affected by hip hop in some way shape or form. So, I don’t get this new fascination with it or everyones late recognition of it, hip hop and urban art has been around for over twenty five years!

The Washington Project for the Arts is hosting a talk at the Katzen Arts Center with Sara and Marc Schiller discussing the influence of “street art” on the modern art movement. They are also giving a visual lecture on graffiti. No, they're not graffiti artist, Sara works in real estate and Marc does digital marketing. They're the creators of the Wooster Collective; a site “dedicated to showcasing and celebrating ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world.”

Ya’ know shit like this doesn’t make me think “street art” or urban art has arrived, it makes me nausea. Yet another art form that is sacred to the artists that make it is being exploited, being pimped harder than one of Goldie’s hoe’s to the mass media.

I am interested to see what you, dear reader, think about all the commercial recognition that hip hop and urban art is getting. Email your comments to ChocolateMilkDC@gmail.com

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Laced: Pete Rock's Album Release Party

Pete Rock will be spinning at his album release party this Thursday at Cue Bar on U Street.
His new album, NY’s Finest, will be hitting stores February 26th. There will also be a live art installation by Aniekan Udofia!

Cue Bar is at 1115 U Street NW Washington DC.

The party starts at 7pm

For more info visit The SolSource Group

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When Harlem Came to Paris

Even though the tickets to this event are $55, it's totally worth it!

Visit the website for more information on tickets and performances.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Urban Code Magazine

Urban Code Magazine is a PDF magazine about art in the Washington DC area. If you haven't heard about it, you need to get a subscription IT'S FREE. Urban Code's online component to the PDF magazine will be launching any day now. In the meantime, Stuart Greenwell (the editor) has created a mass blog of sorts. He has called on bloggers from all over the states to blog about art in their areas. This community blog is a part of the Urban Code online magazine launch.

Check out the Urban Code Blogs here
Check out the blog I write for Urban Code; Parallel Visions

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wangechi Mutu

Go meet and hear Wangechi Mutu speak about her latest collection at the Hirshhorn on January 31st at 7pm.
Mutu creates collage that analyzes female sexuality, cultural tolerance and identity.
This event is FREE. Visit the Hirshhorn online for more information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A few of my favorite things...

That illustration up there is from one of my all time favorite illustrators; Jason Sho Green. I wish I could give you the link to his site, but he seems to have disappeared from the internet.

The New Young Pony Club. I am obsessed with this band, right now. Their sound is so 80's
Check 'em out here

Zatinya. Yeah I know this restaurant has been around forever, but I just discovered how damn good the food is! If you get a chance check 'em out. It's the perfect date spot.

I have also rediscovered my love for U Street. U Street and I had a thing going on for years, but after they built that Starbucks, I had to break it off. Now, we are back to together again.

Plastic Land!!! I love this online store. Very cute, unique stuff. I have recently come to hate the term "funky", if I hadn't I might have used it to describe the clothes at Plastic Land. Visit Plastic Land here

I have also been feeling Jefferson Pinder's performance art and collages. I read about him in The Post a few weeks ago. I wanted to interview him for my blog, but things didn't work out.
Check out his site

Oh and FREELANCE..who will be having his first solo show this Wednesday at the Velvet Lounge. This cat has been putting in work on the underground hip hop scene for years, playing drums, keys and anything else you can imagine. Check him out here

Friday, January 18, 2008

Les écailles de la mémoire

For over twenty years The Urban Bush Women Dance Collective has been telling the stories of marginalized voices through contemporary dance. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar started UBW in 1984 to honor the sassy, multi-dimensional women she was raised around in Kansas City. Jawole has managed to create something so timeless and provocative that UBW has affected how dancers and audiences view themselves and the world around them.

For this particular performance, UBW will be performing with Compagnie Jant-Bi, an all male dance troupe from Senegal started by Germaine Acogny. Jant-Bi is known for tackling hard to address issues such as the genocide in Rwanda through African dance and movement.

These two amazing dance companies are coming together to perform; Les écailles de la mémoire (The Scales of Memory). In this union of traditional African dance and African American contemporary dance they will explore the dynamics of resistance, memory and love

Les écailles de la mémoire runs February 1-3 at the Kennedy Center.

For more information on ticket availability please visit the Kennedy Center online.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kissey Asplund

Internet killed the video, radio and any other type of star you can think of. Look at Tila Tequila, she started out as an internet (Myspace to be exact) sensation and now she has a show on MTV. On the other side of the spectrum is Kissey Asplund; Sweden’s new “it” girl. While Myspace and various radio blogs have helped her create a buzz, this girl actually has talent unlike some of her Myspace musical counterparts. Her style is fresh and creative, her beats are sick and her voice is smooth and mellow. She has collaborated with such musical geniuses such as, Dyno and Papa Jazz, just to name a few. With the on set of her Some What One Girl tour, an EP, and album all due out this year; she is busier than ever. Lucky for me I was able to catch up with her for this mini interview.

C.T.: Who are some of your musical influences?
Kissey: Beat makers influence me a lot! I’m influenced by everything from tribe called quest, The Roots, Waajeed, 90’s radio hits, ELO, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Beatles....I like a mix of things.

C.T.: How do you go about choosing beats and/or beat makers?
Kissey: I've actually heard/found them all through Myspace. Either someone said to me “Hey, you should check him out” or I've sent them a message About how wicked their soundscapes are or beat makers have hit me up and asked me to my voice over some of their beats.

C.T.: So, I know you are on tour, what else are you up to?
Kissey: There's an Ep coming out in the end of February entitled "Fuss'n'Fight", and my debut album Plethora will be out in March. Both on r2 records

C.T.: You are pretty busy. That's good. How long have you been into music?
Kissey: Well...I've played the piano since I was six, sung in choirs and went to music school from ages six till I was about nineteen. After that I stopped for some years and about two years ago I started again. But, music always been a "hobby" never really something that I planned on doing.

C.T.: What made you realize that music was something that you could do full time?
Kissey: I don't know really when...it's more that it just escalated...suddenly I got more bookings, more beats, an album coming out....I recently quit my day job.

C.T.: Good for you! I wish I could quit my day job.
Kissey: I don't know if it's a good idea (laughs), but that’s how it is

C.T.: Your music and your style are heavily influenced by outer space. Are you in to sci-fi books, movies, etc.?
Kissey: I'm a nerd. I watched cartoons all my life (actually when I was younger one of my dream jobs was to become a inker for Marvel Comics). I love movies like Star Wars, 2001: Space Odyssey and fantasy books. I love the way the world is portrayed in science fiction movies

C.T.: I love your style. Have you thought about doing fashion design?
Kissey: I actually studied fashion one year, I love fashion and playing with silhouettes and colors, but I don't think I will launch a line...only if I could do a crazy line, like a line of helmets!

C.T.: Do you write all your own lyrics?
Kissey: Yes! I've only sung 1 song and 2 hooks that have been written for me. I find it's hard to sing lyrics that I didn’t write.. I have to feel it to make you (the audience) feel it.

C.T.: Do you prefer performing live or in the studio?
Kissey: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I love standing in the studio, it's my meditation. But, I also love being on stage, I feel as if everything make sense when I’m on stage. It’s tricky to choose one over the other.

C.T.: What genre does your music fall into?
Kissey: I would call it Electro-soul. because of the electro-sound in the beats. Some put me in the Future Soul family.

C.T.: If you could work with any three artists dead or alive who would they be?
Kissey: Rick James, George Clinton, D'angelo, and Miles Davis

C.T.: I could so see you performing with George Clinton! I think you guys might be from the same planet!
Kissey: I saw him live once when I was 18 and it was heaven!!!
I never really listen to p-funk before that, but him coming out with that hair, his band; Wow!

Photo Credit: Åsa Sjöström for Sydsvenskan

For more information on Kissey Asplund visit her Myspace page

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


A few weekends ago some friends and I went out for drinks at Marvin’s. For those of you that haven’t yet been to there it’s a Marvin Gaye themed restaurant/bar brought to by the Thievery Corporation (the same guys that own 18th Street Lounge). The idea of a Marvin Gaye themed spot seemed kind of corny to me, but I still wanted to see what all the hype was about.

On entering the place there was nothing Marvin Gaye-ish that stood out. It also was missing one key element; soul. Marvin’s has got to be the most soul-less spot in DC. Starbucks has more soul than this place. From the door man, who was wearing huge Run DMC looking glasses, white tennis shoes and an ill-fitting business suit, to the tragically hip crowd of people smoking out on the patio, there was nothing authentic about it. The Belgium inspired menu didn’t help either. Was Marvin Gaye’s mom from Belgium? Did he get locked up there? I just didn't understand what the connection was. So, I did my research, turns out around 1981 Marvin Gaye moved to a small town in Belgium called Ostend. While there he cleaned himself up, got off of drugs and started boxing. He stayed in Ostend for less than two years. This is why Marvin’s restaurant/lounge serves Belgium food and beer. Make any sense to you? Because, it doesn’t make any to me, why would you build an establishment inspired by a prolific entertainer who is known all over the globe for creating soul driven baby-making music and the theme be based on a very lonely short part of his life in a washed up beach town in Belgium.

The crowd, if you dare call it that, was a mix of ex-cool kids and buppies varying in ages between 20-40. By the end of the night, everyone was crowded around the bar; night club style which I totally understood considering the drinks will put hair on your chest. But, that was the only reason to stay. Yeah, there was a DJ and he was good. But, honestly, the place was just too small and filled with to many pretentious wanna-be’s to really get into the music that he was spinning. Considering the scene at 18th street lounge I should have been prepared for that type of thing. Maybe I was putting to much stake in the many rumors that I heard about this place. In its short life span Marvin’s has acquired quite a reputation for housing the “movers, shakers and beautiful people in DC.” And, yes someone actually said those words to me that’s why I put them in quotations. Needless to say, I didn’t see those people there.

Don’t take my word for it though, go check it out and judge for yourself; just get there early because this place has the potential to get packed.

FYI: Dinner entrees will cost you on average around $20. Beers will run you between 7-10 bucks. There is no cover charge or dress code, but I do suspect on nights that there is a line (and I have seen lines at Marvin's) they will get choosey about who they let in, so if you are not feeling especially "hip" that day, avoid the line.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Aniekan Udofia

With the use of mixed media paintings Aniekan Udofia forces you to take off your rose colored glasses and see the world through his eyes. When I first stumbled upon Aniekan’s portraits of hip hop artist, I was impressed, so impressed that I asked him if I could interview him. After our first phone conversation he quickly let me know that he’s much more into his “real” stuff, he goes on to tell me about one piece he painted with George Bush in full gangsta mode with his shirt pulled up exposing a tupac-esqe stomach tattoo that says “Got Oil”. As the conversation continued we talk about everything from how he has been asked to remove his paintings from galleries to why art school sucks. After a series of phone calls ranging in lengths from five minutes to over two hours I figured I had all the info I needed, so I scheduled a meeting to see his work in person.

The very next day I hopped in my car and headed over to his spot. The building was a little sketchy. I had to enter the locked front door with a tenant who pretty much gave me the third degree about where I was going and if I lived there. Then I almost got stuck on the elevator. I was thinking maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. As soon as I arrived at his studio, I knew it was the best idea. The walls were completely covered with paintings; paintings were stacked in corners, in the kitchen, all over. Sketch books were scattered everywhere under tables and other hiding places and there was paint everywhere. This may seem pretty standard for an artist studio, but when I say “studio” I really mean his efficiency apartment. I desperately wanted to ask him where he slept, but I didn’t want to be suggestive. I was there to inquire about his art, not his sleep habits.

Scanning his body of work for one stand out piece was pointless. Each painting spoke to me in some way. It’s obvious that his work is influenced by his views of the world and more importantly life in America. “America is like Disneyland; you come here and forget all about the problems in the world.” Even the most patriotic citizen can’t deny that. America is the land of distraction and excess. I just nodded my head and laughed.

Music is also a huge influence on his work. While growing up in Nigeria, hip-hop culture reached across continents and drew him in. Many of his paintings have hip hop lyrics painted on them, one in particular has a picture of a child with a gun and smaller photo-realist drawings of George Bush, to the left are the lyrics “Why am I wrong if I kill a nigga that punches me but it’s right for you to blow up a whole country?” Messages like this make it impossible for his work not to affect you. He makes you think. Makes you look away from the latest reality T.V. show and say, “something is not right here.” Aniekan himself is just as charged as his work. When asked what his inspiration was he quickly replied, “Dumb people. Stupid ass people, when a grown ass man sags his pants to his knees, when bouncers don’t let people into clubs with sneakers; that is my inspiration.”

For more information on Aniekan Udofia check out his Myspace page.

Photo credit: Jati Lindsay