- ISSUE 2
- FANNY BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- ISSUE 3
- DIORA’S KEY STARRING DIORA BAIRD BY STEPHANIE VOVAS
- TOY STORY REDUX BY TONY KELLY
- ESTELLA WARREN
- SHE LOOKED THRU ME
- EMILY RATAJKOWSKI BY STEVE SHAW
- RITUAL BY SIGNE VILSTRUP
- HARRI PECCINOTTI
- AU LAIT BY BENEDICT REDGROVE
- IOAN GRUFFUDD
- 16 PELL STREET BY STEPHAN WÜRTH
- LE PREMIÈRE FEMME MODERNE
- JENNIFER WEST
- ISSUE 1
- BROOKE BONELLI BY STEVE SHAW
- TERRY O’NEILL
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS THE CASTING FOR TREATS ISSUE #1
- STEVE SHAW PHOTOGRAPHS JASON STATHAM, SPRING 2011
- ELSA HOSK BY ANDREAS KOCK
- RACHEL ROBERTS BY DEBORAH ANDERSON
- SAS BY TONY KELLY
- LAUREN, NIKKI, AMANDA, ABBY & FRANKI
- SHEPARD FAIREY
- KHOSI BY WARWICK SAINT
- DOWN IN THE FOREST SOMETHING STIRS
- THE GARDEN OF SIN & SEDUCTION
- ISSUE 4
- ALBERT MAYSLES
- SESSILEE LOPEZ BY MARK SELIGER
- FALLING BY GABRIELLE REVERE & JO BAKER
- MODERN ARTISANS BY TONY DURAN
- ANTHEA BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- ASTRAL TRAVELING BY PETROVSKY & RAMONE
- GOLD RUSH BY TONY DURAN
- NICO TORTORELLA
- KING LOUIS REIGNS
- ALANA MARIE
- AMANDA MARIE PIZZICONI BY BRETT RATNER
- WATER GIRLS
- TADAO ANDO: THE SIMPLICITY OF PERFECTION
- DUANE MICHALS
- STORK CLUB: THE MOST FAMOUS NIGHTCLUB ON EARTH
- ISSUE 5
- LE PRINCE DE PARFUM
- JOHN VAN HAMERSVELD
- EVA & KELSEY BY LUIS SANCHIS
- CISCO BY DAVID BELLEMERE
- BOB CARLOS CLARKE: THE LAST OF THE MAVERICKS
- TRIPTYCHS BY SAMUEL BAYER
- ZUZANA BY ANNE-CONSTANCE FRÉNOY
- VANESSA BY KESLER TRAN
- THE MAN WHO (ALMOST) FOOLED EVERYONE
- TABITHA BY STEVE SHAW
- JAMES GEORGOPOULOS BY MAXWELL WILLIAMS
- HOLLIE BY MARIANNA ROTHEN
- EUGENA BY JOSH RYAN
- BLACK TONGUE BY SAMUEL BAYER
- TEHILA BY JAMES MACARI
- TREATS! PARTY PICS
- BRETT RATNER SHOOTS AMANDA PIZZICONI
- BLACK TONGUE
- FALLING BY JO BAKER & GABRIELLE REVERE
- JO BAKER – WICKED LINER AND LASHES
- SIGNE VILSTRUP – RITUAL (VIDEO)
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 2 PREVIEW
- “ASTRAL TRAVELING” BY PETROVSKY & RAMONE FOR TREATS! ISSUE 4
- SHORT FILMS
- THE SUMMER HOUSE BY JOE WEHNER
- TREATS! ISSUE #3 LAUNCH PARTY
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 3 PREVIEW
- MARK SELIGER SHOOTS SESSILEE LOPEZ EXCLUSIVELY FOR TREATS!
- “WATER GIRLS” BY HERRING & HERRING
- DIORA BAIRD BY STEPHANIE VOVAS (VIDEO)
- TRICK OR TREATS! ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY
- FRANK W OCKENFELS 3 SHOOTS MAY LINDSTROM FOR ISSUE #3
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI (VIDEO #2)
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI (VIDEO)
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS IOAN GRUFFUDD
- STEVEN LYON SHOOTS “FILLES DE NUIT” FOR TREATS ISSUE #2
- BROOKE BONELLI GETS A TREAT! OF A TAN!
- TONY DURAN, BEHIND THE SCENE PART 3
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE AND MAY – BEHIND THE SCENES
- DEWY SKIN BY JO BAKER
- FILLES DE NUIT BY STEVEN LYON
- TREATS! PREMIERE ISSUE OSCAR PARTY
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS ABBY BROTHERS
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS JASON STATHAM
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE & MAY
- RED LIPS BY JO BAKER
- SHIMMERY SEXY EYES
- METALLIC CAT EYE BY JO BAKER
- JO BAKER MODERN ROMANTIC
- TREATS! PHOTOGRAPHERS
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS THE CASTING: BEHIND THE SCENES PT. 2
- BEN WATTS SHOOTS BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! ISSUE 2 – PT. 1
- TREATS! MAGAZINE ISSUE 1 PREVIEW
- ELECTRIC BY HERRING & HERRING
- AUDREY AT THE GOLDSTEIN RESIDENCE
- TONY DURAN SHOOTS EMILY RATAJKOWSKI IN “LIKE IT HOT” FOR ISSUE #2
- TREATS! EVENTS
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS AMY HIXSON
- BEN WATTS – BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! ISSUE 2 VIDEO PT. 3
- BEN WATTS: THE INTERVIEW, PT. 1
- BEN WATTS SHOOTS BREAKING AWAY FOR TREATS! – PT. 2
- STEVE SHAW SHOOTS BROOKE BONELLI
- TONY DURAN, BEHIND THE SCENES PART 1
- BEN WATTS FOR TREATS! PREMIERE ISSUE: BEHIND THE SCENES
- BEN WATTS – THE INTERVIEW PART 2
- MODEL SCREEN TESTS
- WEB EXCLUSIVES
- RALPH GIBSON’S NUDE: REDUX
- TASYA VAN REE: THE FEMALE GAZE
- ERIC STANTON: IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD
- TREATS Q&A: STEVE SCHAPIRO
- MALIBU’S LOST SHANGRI-LA
- WHERE MODERNISM FOUND ITS HOME
- CONRAD ROSET: THE MUSE IS THE MEDIUM
- DAVID PAUL LARSON: RAW APPROACH
- POST NO BILLS & FAILE
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: SPF SHOWDOWN
- CHIC ROUGH SHINY WEARABLE THINGS
- FIFTY SHADES OF DE SADE
- THERE WILL BE HISTORY
- PROPRIETRESS OF PLEASURE, AKA OWNER!
- THE ZIGGY FILES
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: OLYMPIAN METALLICS
- CARMEL VALLEY INN
- A ROUGE AWAKENING: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIPS
- CAMPGROUND CHIC MEETS LUXURY LODGINGS
- MODEL TALK – DIORA BAIRD
- ACHTUNG, BERLIN!
- SKIN RE’TREAT!
- ARMANI’S CREMA THE CROP
- MR MAXWELL WILL SEE YOU NOW
- PEACHY KEEN: SLIDE INTO SPRING WITH CHANEL’S HARMONIE DE PRINTEMPS LINE
- BELA BORSODI: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHER
- TREATS! Q & A: DAVID BELLEMERE
- MODEL TALK: MAY LINDSTROM
- HELMUT 3.0
- A BALANCING ACT LIKE NO OTHER
- THE CHARMING BENEDICT REDGROVE
- BAKER’S BEAUTY MARK: MON SHU
- YEAR OF THE BUNNY
- ADVENTURES IN RIO: BRAZIL & BUST
- SEX LIT 101: CLASSIC EROTICA
- TREATS Q&A: JARRED LAND
- LA PERLA: COSA C’È SOTTO!
- NICK VEASEY: X MAN
- TOM O’NEAL: MOMENTS IN TIME
- TREATS! Q&A: EDOUARD MEYLAN OF CELSIUS X VI II
- TREATS Q & A: D.A. PENNEBAKER
- 2 1/2 HOURS
- LUXURIANT DESERT JEWELS
- BUTTERFLY DREAMS IN CHINA
- WHO IS DOUG BARTLETT?
- ALLAN TEGER: PEAKS & VALLEYS
- MAKE IT NEW: THE STORY OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE
- GUSTAV KLIMT: THE SHAPE OF A WOMAN
- THE MOST INTERESTING TOWN IN THE WORLD
- JIMMY STEINFELDT: IN THROUGH THE LENS
- FOREVER YOUNG
- TREATS Q & A: JOHN URBANO
With diverse influences - Peter Beard, Coco Chanel, Helmut Newton, Dadaists, Warhol, Nova Magazine – Miami-based drip collagist Sky Farrell pays homage to post-war pop iconography mixed with sex and fashion. TREATS! visits the so-called “diva in training”" to discuss her crush on Jackson Pollock, how she began painting with a toothbrush, the mirror of Venus, and stalking painter Chris Pape for years in Gotham.
by Kenneth Kubernik
“My work is all about sexually charged and confident women who have the power to enthrall,” says Sky Farrell as she slaps paint onto a picture of a curvy model from the pages of NOVA magazine. I’m standing in the darkened entranceway of LA’s Smudge Studios, an unprepossessing photo studio on trendy South La Brea in LA. Farrell has been flown out by the studio to wield her cut-up magic on a few of its walls. The vast wall opposite the front door is busy being transformed from its load-bearing design into a panoptic showcase for the wondrously inventive mind of Ms. Farrell. Running her hands continuously through her sun-streaked leonine mane, she moves with a lithe, balletic grace, radiating a vibrant sensuality that infects the raw physicality of her work. She speaks in a rush of excitement, as if to stop and pause would be to impede the all-important flow.
Unlike so many of her contemporaries, Farrell despises the tidal pull of the digital toolbox, eschewing both electronic capture and computer manipulations—no “Photoshop” for her. Instead, she is armed with nothing more than a lusty blade, some glue, acrylic paint and executive status at Kinko’s, where she generates the endless reprints that constitute her palette of muses. With the whip-sharp precision of Edward Scissorhands, she then slices and dices her way through an encyclopedia’s worth of pop culture iconography. Her world is informed by the haute couture of post-war Paris, mini-skirted “Swinging London,” Dylan’s Greenwich Village, and the psychedelic excesses of LA’s Sunset Strip. They are plundered for their most resonant images and then reassembled onto canvas-like facades of building interiors. The contrasts in form, density, and symmetry, the play of light and dark, imply a palpable rhythm or pulse, suggesting not so much a painterly sensibility, but that of a choreographer. She doesn’t simply cut and paste as much as lift and twirl. All her pieces could be titled, “Let’s Dance.”
Her commission for Smudge finds her working exclusively in black and white—“as expressive as full color,” she insists. The studio owner owns an impressive collection of period fashion publications that are catnip to Farrell’s voracious eye.
“Do you know these books?” she enthuses, holding up two mighty tomes. “When I found them in the owner’s library, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. “H.P.” Harri Peccinotti—fan-fuckin-tastic! He has an incredible way of photographing a woman’s body. Remember, he did the Pirelli calendar. And then there’s this: the NOVA Book from ‘65-’75; this great underground English magazine. It’s like an explosion in my brain. But I would never mess with an image so much that you lose sight of the source. I’m about paying homage.”
Looking around the room and on the floor, the inventory of scanned images is convincingly exhaustive. She gets down on all fours, sniffing out a pattern in what appears to be a massive mess.
“You’ve got to have the right ratio of body parts. I’m not giving you kinky—well, maybe a little. I want to celebrate female sexuality in its purest form.”
Romy Schneider, Jean Shrimpton, Uschi Obermaier take center-stage in this femme feast, all well-cast reminders that they don’t breed bodies like that anymore. And given the narrative cohesion that emerges from this pictorial goulash, one begins to appreciate the firm command of technique required to pull this off.
“There is nothing given over to chance even though it looks like it—no she’s just throwing all this shit against the wall and seeing what sticks. No, sir! I’m a storyteller, I know how to get my subject and predicate to agree. I’ll mix in words, song lyrics, dialogue from movies, advertising slogans, patches of blue ocean, whatever I need to serve the story. And after it’s glued together, I’ll fling acrylic paint over everything—that will blur the rough edges, break down the boxy feel of the photographs into something rounder and bouncier. I’ll use Sharpies to detail some small but significant point. Like Timothy Leary said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your mind to use your head.’”
How did this twenty-something marvelette become a crusader on behalf of an era so far-removed from her own generation’s all-consuming nowness? Given her up bringing, circus girl or African explorer might have been her only other options. Farrell was born and raised in Miami, a moon child finely-attuned to the ebb and flow of oceans, currents, and eddies. Like a water sprite, she was brash, effulgent, dedicated to being the center of attention.
“I was a diva in training,” she recalls, “a young Sarah Bernhardt. I liked having people take notice of me because I wanted to be heard. I wanted to leave something beautiful to the world. But not fame—not interested. I’d been around a lot of famous people, celebrities, whatever, and that world didn’t interest me. I wanted to leave something to the Library of Congress.”
She was initially drawn to acting and music, which wasn’t surprising since her father was an authentic pop music presence himself. Songwriter/producer Wes Farrell had numerous credits: co-writer of “Boys” for The Shirelles, later covered by The Beatles. “Hang On Sloopy,” that summer of ’65 smash hit for The McCoys was another of his co-writes (with the legendary Bert Burns). He was also the musical mind behind The Partridge Family, that frothy mug of teenage soft-serve that unleashed David Cassidy on an unsuspecting public. Farrell was briefly married to Tina Sinatra, which furthered his status as a mover and shaker.
Sky, and her brother Wes, came much later in a subsequent marriage. His death in 1996 left a gaping hole in the life of such a lively and impressionable young girl. “My godfather was (writer/satirist) Shel Silverstein, for Christ’s sake. No wonder off the wall is my idea of normal. Of course I grew up with a great love of music and performance. And I dabbled in the music industry for a while; I did some A&R work for Clive Davis’s J Records. I also studied music publishing and licensing so I could help manage my father’s estate. But fashion and design, the visual arts, that was always going to be my main thing.”
By the time she was eight years old she was pouring through Italian Vogue, writing down the addresses of the couture houses listed in the back: YSL, Givenchy etc. “I remember writing a paper for my fifth grade class on Coco Chanel,” she says like it was yesterday. “I made my mother buy all these glossy European magazines and they were not cheap! Twenty dollars a pop. I’d cut them up and start re-assembling my own version. What I’m doing now is closest to my first memories of having an artistic impulse. I was incorrigible.”
The drip applique that has become her signature touch is clearly a tribute to Jackson Pollock, her seventh grade crush. “My art teacher took me to The Met in New York when I was fourteen. I saw this great big splatter on a wall and thought, ‘Yes!’ I started painting with a toothbrush, big splotches of red and white. I wanted to be ‘Jacqueline the Dripper,’” she says laughing.
Of course it all really began in Paris: Leaving her East Coast boarding school for a summer in Paris at Parsons School of Design led to an adolescent cocktail of frustration, despair and doubt. If it wasn’t exactly Montmartre in the Twenties, her French excursion laid the groundwork for her rapacious visual hunger.
“Everywhere I looked I saw eyes and mouths, like I was living in a Surrealist painting. They became the focal points of my own work—you can find the weakness in a man through his irises. Here, take a look…”
She reveals a tattoo of Man Ray’s “Tears.” It is a particularly apt choice; the original photograph (dating from the early 30s) is a masterful example of trompe l’oeil. A tender, heart-breaking close-up of a young woman in tears is actually a mannequin dabbed with glass beads. The fauxintimacy was a lacerating commentary on the power of images to corrupt and deceive. Like so many other Surrealists—Dali, Miró, Duchamp—Man Ray was deconstructing the perceptual landscape, planting trap doors and false bottoms in what had hereto-for been a consensual world.
Farrell’s signature cut-up method originates from this time, finding expression in the Surrealists first cousins, the playfully subversive Dadaists. Printed texts were filleted into a makeshift language of absurdist poetry. No less than T.S. Elliot’s modernist classic, The Waste Land, embraced the vigorous uncertainties of the cut-up. By the time the Beat Movement arrived in the 1950s, the conventions surrounding words and images were as fully upended as classical physics was by Einstein’s relativistic assaults. The sage, English writer and artist, Brion Gysin, ripped newsprint into a tangled juxtaposition of pictures and prose. His fellow seeker, William Burroughs, observed, “When you cut into the present, the future leaks out.” Even the au currant practice of remixing and sampling in pop music reflects the essentially evanescent nature of the thing itself: eighth notes, sonnets, gelatin prints are no more fixed than the velocity and location of elemental electrons.
Which brings us back to Farrell’s place in the artistic firmament. If her work is not exceptionally original, neither is it pastiche. She wears her formidable influences with just the right balance of respect and youthful insouciance.
“I identify with someone when their ideas are closest to mine, more like a shared discovery than a slavish worship,” she asserts. “David Bailey and Helmut Newton see women the way I do: sexually charged, super-confident. That’s what I strive to be. Or look at Tom Wesselmann’s juicy-fruity mouths—that’s mine. And don’t forget Wingate Paine’s Mirror of Venus. I could climb into that book. In fact, at one of my showings people thought a man had produced the work. Sorry, Charlie, it was all me.”
Farrell’s first showing came in 2009, under the aegis of photographer Leslie Kee, who entrusted her to produce a series of collages based on his pictures that were featured in Re-Quest QJ, a leading Japanese fashion magazine.
In February 2010, she was invited to dress the walls of New York’s Hudson Hotel for Interview magazine’s fortieth anniversary celebration. This was an especially rewarding experience because it allowed her to pay tribute to her greatest inspiration, Andy Warhol, the guiding spirit behind the magazine and the demimonde world of the lurid and licentious that informs so much of her work. She excavated their vault for a treasure trove of illustrations, photographs, and ephemera which were wrapped like fun-house mirrors around the barren space, leaving revelers to imagine themselves transported to Warhol’s Factory, subsumed by its narcotic effect. Soon Spin magazine and V magazine were opening up their vaults for similar collages.
Switching gears next to the garish delights of blue moons and pink flamingoes, Farrell adorned the interior of Arkadia, the trendy nightspot housed in Miami’s fabled Fountainebleau Hotel. This demanded a look more redolent of mid-fifties America, flush with new wealth and promise. Deep tans and French cuffs for the men; halter-tops, bleached-blond coifed, Vargas-shapes for the women. Late nights with the “Rat Pack” in the lounge; afternoons by the pool, as bikini-clad pin-ups lathered themselves in tanning oil. Farrell is not content to just show and tell; there is an immersed quality that stimulates others senses as well. Think of your eyesas ears, she seems to be saying. All her works percolate with a soundtrack (vinyl, preferably) the observer intuitively provides.
This sensibility was on further display at Santa Monica’s prestigious Galerie Anais at Bergamot Station, which presented her West Coast debut, “POP: Power of Print,” to strong critical acclaim. As she transitions from quixotic regional voice into an authentic collagist, precocity will have to make way for a rigorous work ethic that she welcomes—Farrell is ferociously prolific. A new piece, inspired by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, will substitute fabric for photos, tailoring patterns fit for a runway model (albeit one located in a Christopher Nolan movie).
For all her enthusiasm, however, there are no guarantees. Talent without timing, without good fortune, without an annealed inner-strength, can crash and burn like so much space debris. In 2006, Farrell and Chris Pape co-authored Stay High 149, a compilation of the acclaimed New York graffiti artist’s most audacious creations. Emerging from the squalid underground of Gotham’s inner city, this self-styled guerilla painter provided the fertile soil that would later nurture such vital voices as JeanMichel Basquiat and Keith Haring. But as quickly as he surfaced, personal demons drove him back into obscurity for over twenty years. (In fact, most observers of the scene thought he was dead.) Farrell, driven by her own mysterious compulsions, set out in search of this vanquished soul.
“I spent two-and-a-half years just tripping around New York with him, getting him high,” she explains. “People thought I was on the crack-pipe for hanging with this funky old black man in some even funkier places. I learned a lot from him, though; about Vietnam vets, the crazy 70s scene, everybody on the nod, 20 years on junk. I had no idea about this world or about the art movement that came out of it. He taught me to be fearless. I didn’t get that from print.”
Click here to read a Q&A from Sky Farrell.
Kenneth Kubernik is a contributor to Variety and is a former editor of Music Connection magazine. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times and MIXmagazine, where he also served as a contributing editor. Kubernik served as an editorial consultant on Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon (Sterling) and is the co-author of A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival (Santa Monica Press).