Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elissa Tracy: Pop Art with a Twist

Photo courtesy of Elissa Tracy

While we are fans of a great variety of artistic styles, it should come as no surprise that we are especially drawn to pop art (our name might give that away). So when we saw the art of Elissa Tracy we were more than intrigued.

Elissa, originally a photographer and designer, paints in several styles but is moving more towards her Andy Warhol-esque pieces. Yet whether she is bringing a pop icon like Elizabeth Taylor or Jimi Hendrix to life or creating a stunning abstract work, her highly stylized pieces evoke an emotional reaction. The viewer can sense Elissa’s fearlessness and rebellion in each brush stroke.

In a recent interview she told us, “I call it industrial pop art because I mix the pop art and the narrative and the abstract all together as one. I do some abstracts that are by themselves but the path I’ve been going down lately is mixing all three — graffiti, abstract and pop art.”

Her subjects have ranged from Marilyn Monroe to Frank Sinatra to Jimi Hendrix. She told us, “I’m really drawn toward old Hollywood. I read a lot about, do a lot of research on, whoever I’m going to paint. I don’t really have a rhyme or reason to [how I pick a subject]. I tend to be drawn to the old Hollywood glamour. There isn’t a lot of people now, to me, that I find that interesting. I find the older icons way more dynamic and interesting than who our icons are now.”

While she enjoys doing a straight abstract piece, she leans more towards creating this iconic imagery. She stated, “I love the abstract because it’s more of an emotional outlet for me. The pop art is very detailed and I’m structured with it. And I’m trying to grasp something from that person.”

She continued, “As a photographer, I mostly photographed models, actors and musicians. So it’s always trying to capture the essence of that person. You’re capturing it in one still life photo… and for me it’s the same way with painting.”

When she created her portrait of Elizabeth Taylor she said it was about her eyes and the expression that we have all seen so many times in Dame Elizabeth’s photos.

Elissa noted that she gets a great deal of feedback on her Marilyn Monroe painting and discovered people were reacting to the addition of the narrative — the date of her death, her age, the $.19 cost of the Life magazine cover. This collage-like feel to her paintings sets her apart from other pop artists.

The artist sites some of the greats as her influences including Georgia O’Keefe, Van Gogh
Tamara de Lempicka and, of course, Andy Warhol. So it was no surprise to us when she said he is the pop culture icon she would choose to be for one day. “I read his diary several times and I’m really intrigued by his personality. His marketing was incredible. He had definitely something to say. He liked being around people as an observer and then would take from that. And I relate to that. I liked that he would be in the limelight but when he was in interviews he said very little but what he said was profound. I would like to be in his head and see what he was actually thinking.”

Elissa also has another pop culture influence, but this one is fictional — GI Joe. In fact she has created an entire series devoted to the plastic doll. She was inspired by the art cards that came with each action figure in the 1980s. She said, “They’re really comical and interesting and I got intrigued by that. There are so many characters to choose from.”

As an avid collectibles fan and seller, she found that there was a lack of GI Joe art and so she decided to fill that void. She also began to cosplay as a GI Joe character — The Baroness.

She began dressing as leather-clad femme fatale, and despite her blonde tresses, bore a great resemblance. While some die-hard fans could not get past the hair color, she adopted the persona of the Blonde Baroness and began painting self-portraits in character.

She recalled, “I painted the self-portrait and I started doing a twist on things. And I did it with the narrative with one of the other GI Joe characters, Cobra Commander. I put a sign with him and I started playing around with that as well. I’m going down that road with my new series. I’m not just painting the action figure, I’m trying to put a narrative with it that’s a twist or comical off the art cards from the ‘80s… It’s another dimension of performance art, another outlet really.”

Elissa would like one thing when people view her art, “I hope that they’re inspired. The feedback that I’m getting is that they find the narrative part integrated with the pop art and the abstract interesting and it makes it more personalized for them. I hope people are inspired. I hope that my painting evokes some sort of emotion. That’s all I can ask for.”

She also has one other goal with her art. “I am hoping to pave the way of artists being more understood. We’re individuals but we still have something to say and maybe it’s not out loud, maybe its through our paintings, or through our expressions of something… A lot of people misinterpret artists either as being shy and unapproachable, but we have a lot to say but it may just be in a different way.”

See Elissa’s work at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Billy Bob Thornton Plays TV’s New Snake Charmer on Fargo

Photo by FX/Matthias Clamer 

The list of actors moving from the big screen to small never ceases to impress these days. So it was really just a matter of time before iconic film star Billy Bob Thornton would join other A-listers in turning to TV. But Thornton didn’t pick just any series for his boob tube debut. He signed on to a reimagining of none other than the Coen Brother’s cult classic Fargo.

After all, even Thornton conceded that getting into TV has become an inevitability, “The fact of the matter is we have to face this, that Baby Boomers, in particular, really have to look to television now, not only the performers and the writers and everything, but the audience.”

Following what he calls a “drought” of good movies in the ‘80s and a short Renaissance for films in the ‘90s, Thornton acknowledged that the features aren’t what it used to be. As a result, the attitudes about working in TV have changed. “When I was coming up it was a bad word.  And now, it has a cache and actors are clamoring to go on television because it’s a place that we can do the things we were doing in movies. There’s a spot that television is filling that the movie business is not.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dr. Lin Brings Beverly Hills Skincare to Your Local Drugstore

Photo by Andrew J.B. Aronsohn

We’re not going to lie. We Passionistas are not really obsessed with our looks. On the average day, we’re make-up free kind of girls. And while we might not be considered great beauties, we’re lucky to have been blessed with good hair and good skin, which makes being lazy a little bit easier to pull off.

Over the years we’ve been very fortunate not to have to deal with a lot of major breakouts. So when we recently went to an event for the launch of Dr. Lin Skincare, we figured we wouldn’t necessarily get much use out of the free Acne Clarifying Treatment kit.

Clearly the universe had other plans.

The very next morning one of us (which one shall remain nameless to protect our individual pride) woke up with a giant… we mean GIANT… pimple in the middle of our forehead — truly the worst zit to ever grace our faces.

We quickly whipped out Dr. Lin’s kit, washed with the Daily Cleanser, dabbed on his Acne Lotion and followed it up with his Acne Spot Corrector. We couldn’t believe that within hours the pimple was shrinking away and the next day it was all but gone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Brian Eric Johnson Puts a New Twist on Mobster Films

Photo courtesy of Brian Eric Johnson

Not many first time feature film directors take on a project that includes a cast with 50 speaking roles and pushes a tried and true genre into a unique format. But Brian Eric Johnson is not like most first time feature film directors. So when the Sacramento, California, native decided to go behind the lens to helm Mobster, he chose to put a twist on crime films by shooting it in the found footage style that has previously been reserved for horror movies. In a recent one-on-one interview, Johnson talked about his path to bringing Mobster to the big screen and why he applied this unique point of view to his debut feature.

Johnson explained that although he often says he was first bit by the acting bug when he was in college, he can trace his interest back even further. “I did the little school plays when I was in elementary school. And my first lead role in a film was when I was 12 years old. My older buddy was taking a film class in high school and he cast me as the lead in his little monster movie.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brian Henson and the Family Legacy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

Photo by Dale Berman/Syfy

As lifelong fans of Jim Henson, we jumped at the chance to get on the phone with his eldest son Brian about the new reality show Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. Since Sesame Street was born not long after we were, Henson’s creations have been a part of our pop culture lexicon since our earliest memories. We’ve seen every movie. We’ve read all the books. And we’ve been impressed with the manner in which Brian and his siblings have maintained their father’s legacy.

But just because we love Jim Henson, we weren’t 100% sure how Brian would answer a question posed to him during a recent conference call interview. “What does it feel like to have a father who’s so cherished and beloved the world over?”