Unknowing and Curiosity- Steve Sangapore

You might remember Steve Sangapore from the New Haven Open Studios. He was kind enough to share some more of his paintings here on ALSO THAT. His work is striking and surreal and usually painted on unconventional canvases and panels. It branches out across walls or bulges in three dimensions, toeing the line between painting and sculpture. The level of detail in his work is astounding and can only be fully appreciated in person. 

Visit his website here.

Follow him on Instagram here.

It is the duty of the 21st century artist not to represent the world as mankind already sees it, but rather how we feel and think about it. Instead of directly representing life, it is the painter’s obligation to represent what a setting or object subjectively feels like in that moment. In the digital age of science, technology and reason, I can think of no grander creative subject than exploring the nature of reality and conscious experience. I dub my work as Sci-Surrealism; a contemporary take on the surrealist approach while fusing themes in science and philosophy. The mysterious and inherent duality between consciousness and matter is the direct subject of my latest work. Using metaphor to convey relationships between identifiable objects and forms, I illustrate a sense of universal oneness: connectivity between matter and the conscious experience in contexts of micro and macroscopic spaces. Using a hard-edged and illustrative style, these dense themes demand a disciplined technique and great attention to detail. Each painting connects the tangible impermanence of matter with transcendental, spiritual unity through shape, depth, texture and arrangement. As a result, the works will rouse the audience to unearth and illuminate mankind’s indelible state of unknowing and curiosity for what we experience as life and reality.


Good Fortune - Manny Blacksher

You may remember Manny Blacksher from the ALSO THAT Poetry Contest I held last year. You may also remember him from the ebook of his poetry I published here on the site. I'm proud to share his beautiful words with everyone today. 

Manny Blacksher is an editor, freelance copy writer, and researcher living in Birmingham, Alabama. His poems have appeared in Measure, Unsplendid, Works & Days, Digital Americana, and The Guardian's Online Poetry Workshop. He had the exceeding good fortune for Mick Theebs to design his mini-chapbook, earthly Sharpness, in 2015. He is now revising a full-length manuscript.


Check out this video of Manny reading his poem 'The Procession'.

Editing for Heartache

In Chapter 3, you mastered the “Old-New Contract”
and combined it with strong characters and actions
to give a gas utility shut-off notice
clarity and grace. Think of how a typical
“Dear-John” letter obscures purpose and fixed resolve
with abstractions and meaningless modal phrases:

    Hey, I know things haven’t been good lately. I mean, 
    we tried what Dr. Floss advised. I think we both
    know it’s just not working out. God, I’m sorry, but
    I’ve got to go away. I need some time alone.
I’ll bet you’re shaking your head. The lover has missed
a chance to tell the dumpee they will never fix
concrete problems, and the dumper cannot be swayed
to go on with their irreparably damaged
coupling. The letter needs help from a confident
prose editor. Let’s sink our teeth into this draft
and make the story both lucid and dramatic.

    Dear Aubrey,

            I have been thinking of us. A lot.

    We agreed with Dr. Floss to give ourselves six
    weeks to make the important changes we discussed.

You still don’t clean the tub. I found more pubic hairs.
You forgot to pay the electric bill. Again!
Last week, I went down on someone from Marketing.

    Clearly, neither of us wants this relationship
    to change. I hold it annulled by common consent.
    Appeals will be considered for forty-eight hours.
    Please contact me with any questions. 

                        Yours truly,


Precision Finish by Cimex

Good that you and I should like surprise.
Repaved, familiar speedways feel new
to old drivers. We gauge each other through
quick looks, customary jokes, apprise
the field: road-worn but going odds are under-            
valued. We’ve bright eyes, firm smiles. We’ll
take Manhattans, and, later, should we feel
the itch, a room to run that circuit. Blunders
of drifting hard through curves have taught us all
the risks incurred by transport on strange beds— 
but what bed’s not strange if one doesn’t park
alone to cool beneath clean sheets? Infested
mattresses race with other bodies, remark
jumping thighs, fast times never bested.


The Procession

When they had rested, Jesus left that place,
But Ethel came behind him saying, Lord,
You’ve left your coat, and he replied, I’ll get
Another coat in Pergamum to last
For all the ages. Blessed be the fleece
Of Pergamum. All praise the tailors there,
The skillful needles. Narrow eyes can see            
How best to sew a button. Dust rose up

Before their watchful feet and kissed the sky.
When they had reached the hill where is a well,
They saw a multitude of Pharisees
All spitting beans at ghosts and crying out,
Leave us, Accursed! The Chosen One beheld
These fearful scribes and laughed aloud. He said,
You must not vex the dead, but come away
With me. They went with him but brought their beans.

Upon the road, a stone rolled hard against
The thigh of one whom Jesus loved. Hold up,
I’ve hurt my leg, said the Disciple. Wait,
My thigh is very sore, he told the Lord.
Let’s see how bad it is. The Son of Man
Put forth his hand and touched inside the wound.
I fear I may not walk. But Christ said, Thou
Will soon feel better. Don’t be a baby.
Later, they approached a market where
Was every kind of good thing on display,
All very keenly priced. The Lord said,
How difficult it is for wealthy men
To enter heaven, but I really like
This coat. What does it cost? The merchant said,  
Lord, if thou command, how can I not,
But I must sell this wondrous coat to you

For only thirteen silver pieces. Hear
Oh Sons of Judah, Jesus cried, how great
The faith of one who sells a decent coat
To me for six. Forgive your servant’s sin!
The vendor pleaded, Ten is this coat’s price.
Be healed, said Christ, and go in peace with nine.
He bought the coat and both were satisfied.
Ethel said, That coat looks good on you.

When they were on the road, the sun drew down.
The sun was broad and shone upon the fields.
Its light was gold on trees and stones, and wind
Bestirred the grass to din like distant cymbals.
The one whom Jesus loved was muttering,
It’s grown too hot, but Ethel looked about
And said, It feels like keeping promises.
And Jesus said, I know just what you mean. 
Later, when they had reached another hill
Where is another well, a crowd of men
Possessed by ducks accosted them and waved
Their arms in fury. Rabbi, have you come
To foul our nests? The hour is at hand,
The Lord replied, when nests will be subsumed
In cypress boughs, and rivers cover all
The bank, and catfish eat your eggs. Fly south.

The sun was low. Christ said, Those ducks were nuts
—What a world. The Disciple who loved
Him said, You are the meaning in my life,
And Ethel said, You’re my inspiration.
Christ replied, Give thanks to God, it’s been
A perfect day, but I could eat a goat.
Let’s get inside. They shook the dust from off
Their coats and entered into Pergamum.    

Guest Post: Enamored with the Medium - Tessa Junas

I'm excited to share the amazing ceramics of Tessa Junas. The things that really strike me about her work are the intricate patterns and the vibrant colors. Keep an eye on this rising star as she builds her already impressive body of work.

My name is Tessa Junas. Ever since I was a little girl I had a fascination with ceramics. My grandmother had a collection of pieces displayed in her house and every day after school I would study the designs on the pots in sheer awe of what someone out there could create. I took my first ceramic class at Amity High School and became enamored with the medium. I went on to study Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics at Southern Connecticut State University under the instruction of Cort Sierpinski, Josaphine Rossomondo and Gret Cochenet. They have all aided greatly in my education and helped me nurture the style which I have developed. It is reminiscent of the Ukrainian pottery I loved so much as a child yet I wanted my pieces to be vibrant and interesting with a life of their own.

Guest Post: Perceptual and Conceptual - Katrina Castro

I'm pleased to share the work of an up and coming photographer named Katrina Castro.

This collection of work I present to you is a representation of my summer as well as my growth as a photographer. When I returned home to New Jersey for a few months, I had the opportunity to intern for a bit under a wedding photographer. I was able to learn plenty about different sources of lighting, how to utilize it, and giving it a purpose in my photography. I was also able to see a little “behind the scenes” of shooting weddings, with all the hustle and bustle. But what really stuck with me the most were the small conversations about perspective I would have while working with the photographer. He had such great appreciation for what he learned from watching documentaries and reading articles about science, famous people, etc… It really inspired me to get back into reading as well as watching shows with substance. What I really took out of my experience was to stay open minded, don’t be afraid to take risks with your work, try something new instead of keeping the same technique/style. I used my summer back at home to my advantage photography-wise. As you can see from my work, I pretty much take pictures of anything, but my main forte is photographing portraits. I was never a really big fan of taking pictures of landscapes, architecture, or basically anything that didn’t have a face. But I would say I’m pretty versatile with what I do. Eventually, I would love to photograph weddings. This month I had the opportunity to learn a bit from those who did enjoy photographing my least favorite things. We head back to the topic about perspective once again. Photography is perceptual and conceptual to me. What can you physically see that some people may see differently? What can you feel emotionally from a photo that some people may feel differently? I find that’s the beauty of art, there’s no right or wrong. An artist is constantly learning, discovering, and thinking. As an artist myself, I am still learning, discovering what I am capable of with my photography.

Guest Post: Transitions - Helen Brechlin

The fabulous Helen Brechlin makes her return to ALSO THAT with new work. 

Check out her Behance for more work. 

This collection of work was created over the course of my senior year at MassArt. I set out with the idea of painting hair. My previous post explains that hair stemmed from a project where I was making paintings to break stigmas of rape survivors. I wanted to create cogent discussions of how survivors are viewed and treated, whether it be by their school, community, or the media.
Hair is a substance that is full of metaphor and meaning. To individuals it can stand for opposite ideas. It is revered when attached to a person, and then the instance it is taken from the setting of the body it is thought of as disgusting and dirty. A stray hair on anything means that thing has been contaminated.
To me, hair is a recording of personal histories. Hair grows with you through your experiences, whether they are struggles or triumphs. In my paintings I focused on the hardships and depicting emotionally traumatizing events with hair. How will the hair manifest itself when the person it belongs to is a rape survivor?
My concept comes before my preferences; I am a representational figure painter who has forgone both the body and observation to better express my ideas. As this project has continued there has been a slow transformation from strictly observational studies to purely abstracted realities of swirling colorful tendrils. The hair I paint tangles within itself to ebb and flow as it fights its way to completion.
My most recent paintings, many would say, do not resemble hair at all. I gave myself my last semester at school to be a period of painting where I step away from my preferences and politics and begin to dig deeper into the medium of painting itself. I still think of hair when I am creating paintings, but not in the literal sense when I first began this project. Instead, the hair is referenced in the brush strokes, line and form. These works I call “Transitions” to reflect my emergence from school and observational painting. With these works, I hope to gain better insight into the kinds of paintings I wish to create in post-grad reality.
— HB

Guest Post: The Guitar Can Thunder by Stephen Bak

I've known Stephen since kindergarten. It's been a journey watching him (and his beard) grow into the artist he is today.

Give his tracks a listen below, and make sure to check out his Soundcloud and Facebook page.

Stephen Bak is an indie-folk-rock-inspired singer and songwriter hailing from Milford, CT. As solitary guitar-wielding singers go, the guitar can thunder, or lay a light sprinkle of raindrops on a tin roof. The voice can rip the air or it can drift along lazily like its little brother. To put it simply Stephen Bak is a thundersprinkled rip-drifter. As a music-maker, he performs frequently in his home state, and sometimes in New York City (and occasionally even beyond).
— SB

Guest Post: I'd choose to be good- Richard Rensberry

Richard is a fellow blogger and writer whose work smacks of the beer-soaked musings of Charles Bukowski. Keep an eye out for his book of poetry The Wolf Pack Moon to be released this June. Check out his site and blog.

Richard Rensberry is the author of The Wolf Pack Moon, a book of modern poetry that will be published this June and available on Amazon and at http://www.quickturtlebooks.com.
His blog is http://www.richardrensberry.com.
His poetry has appeared in several journals including The Midwest Poetry Review,
Touchstone Press, and Impact Magazine. He resides in Oakland, California.

     The Big House

                           If I were San Quentin,
                           I would hold the key
                           to everything evil.
                           My heart would beat
                           with the tattooed fists
                           of men sentenced
                           into my keep, boys gone
                           crazy as their crimes.
                           I’d feel like guilt
                           most of the time.  I’d be a maze
                           of whispers and lies.  Truth,
                           if it existed at all, would arrive
                           in shackles, whimper and fold
                           on death row.
                           I’d have rats for eyes.
                           I would hold you close
                           and gnaw on your will.  Time
                           would stagger, stumble and fall 
                           still as their victims. 
                           If I were San Quentin,
                           I’d have an IQ
                           of ten.  I’d clatter and clank
                           the whole night through.
                           I’d hone my shank
                           and lower my pants.
                           I’d show you the sorriest
                           crack of an ass
                           if I were San Quentin.

From The Wolf Pack Moon by Richard Rensberry
to be published this May by QuickTurtle Books®


           A Bloody Mess

                          They came on stealth feet,
                          two of them like animals,
                          with hammer and screwdriver
                          they pried into my treasures
                          of sleep, privacy, and dreams.
                          It was their intention
                          to steal them, haul them away
                          in paper bags, spend them
                          on something worthless as crack
                          cocaine.  They crept like time
                          ticking through the house
                          with flashlights up the stairs.
                          They spoke with two voices,
                          one male and one female
                          stinking of beer.  I could taste it.
                          It was bitter and acrid and rank
                          enough to fill me with fear.
                          It was never in my head to think
                          of empathy, poetry or love.
                          I thought of blood and guts
                          with gun poised and ready
                          to kill.

            The Gamble

                 If I were luck,
                 I’d choose to be good.
                 I’d live in your pocket
                 and kiss your fingers
                 long before you roll the dice.
                 I’d blow on your hands and help you out
                 with a flippant flip of a silver coin.  If I were luck,
                 I’d pick from the deck 
                 the ace of hearts.  You’d hit the jackpot
                 of love and friendship.  We’d trick the devil
                 and outwit gods.  If I were luck,
                 you’d beat the odds.

From The Wolf Pack Moon by Richard Rensberry
to be published this May by QuickTurtle Books®

Guest Post: A Resting Place- John Davis

John Davis is a ridiculously talented painter who is in his senior year at MassArt. Funny enough, he recently co-hosted a gallery showing with Helen Brechlin, another ALSO THAT Guest Artist.

Check out his website here: John Davis Fine Art

From the infinite amount of color possibilities to the ability it has to act as a sculptural material, paint, as a medium intrigues me. Through painting, I explore these possibilities and am always looking for new ways to realize its sculptural potential and to alter the color palette to address the mood of the paintings. While experimenting with the building up and layering of this pigmented paste I re-­‐ present my subjects and give them a chance to be reintroduced.

My handling of the paint often becomes more significant than the subject matter. I view my paintings as many abstract moments that are assembled into representational images. The neutral areas of color act as a resting place allowing the more saturated hues to distort the reality of the space.

Whether I am painting an interior that few people are intimately familiar with or a single object that most viewers could easily recognize, my intention is to alter the ways that viewers both experience and perceive these mundane subjects, to distort the line between perception and reality.
— JD