Tuesday, October 28, 2014


CONNECTION TO NOHO: Makeup Artist at the 800 Gallery for "Elements of Art and Fashion Show" 

MEDIUM: Cosmetic makeup and face & body paints

WEBSITE: www.RockStarFaceArt.com

We’ve all seen it at birthday parties, festivals, and school events––eccentric butterflies, cuddly kitty cats, and treacherous pirates­­––children’s faces metamorphosed by the wonderful art of face painting. It should actually be called the art of making joy because nobody does it more joyfully than Alma Magaña.

Alma’s that rare occurrence where everything about her and around her is somehow touched by creative energy. You’ll agree once you’ve read her resume and found she's held two fashion degrees, has designed anything from menswear to lingerie, studied cinema makeup, and patented cosmetic tools. But her real love––what feeds her soul––is the art of body painting.

Face and body painting has been a part of our history for a long time. Once used primarily in the theatre, it became more popular during the 1960s hippie movement when people painted themselves with symbols that showed allegiance to the movement and a protest against the war. It wasn’t until the 80s that face painting really took hold and became a way for kids to enjoy themselves––or for Alma to enjoy herself today.

I met Alma during my day job, which turned out to be her day job too as a film costumer. We did the usual––you know, the "I do this/you do that" chitchat. And then she blew me away with a photograph of her most recent face painting session. That’s when I found, to my utter amazement, that while this petite woman endures the demands of TV production––the long hours, multiple clothing changes, continuity, and actors’ insistent comfort requests––she simultaneously creates and plans her other life as face and body artist. And it all began, she said, with her interaction with kids and the reward she felt as she watched their expressions and little eyes grow big with the pure excitement of being transformed into a fantasy character. But the joy doesn’t stop there––not after you’ve seen what Alma’s art does for us big kids.

With Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) upon us on November 2, Alma has been creating face art that touches not only the recipients of her fine hand, but her soul as well. By transforming bodies and faces into whimsically painted skeletons, she memorializes the death of her own mother who lost her life way too early for both of them. Based in this wonderful Mexican tradition, death is a positive step forward into a higher level of consciousness. Painting one’s face and body into a skeleton is a chance to overcome the fear of death and to embrace the souls of the deceased. Alma only wishes that her mother were here today to see the beautiful work she does.
Courtesy of

When asked how it makes her feel to do her art, Alma told me she's stimulated by the creative collaboration between the subject, the photographer, and herself. It never feels like work to her, but a creative outlet. She said "it's my element, my zone" and expresses all her art values while bringing happiness to all involved at the same time.  

As the world turns out negative events and challenges us daily, I'd say we could all use a little more happiness. Alma Magaña will be painting joy onto the faces of young and old at The 14th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival in Canoga Park on Sunday, November 2 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Whether you're embracing a personal loss or just wanting to say "boo!" to it all, let Alma lovingly transform you! 

Follow Alma on Facebook or on Instagram @RockStarFaceArt.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


CONNECTION TO NOHO: Her former "office" was at Republic of Pie and she has facilitated the creation of murals in and around NOHO 

MEDIUM: Photography 

WEBSITE: http://www.erin-stone.com/

That “place on the other side of the hill,” otherwise known as the San Fernando Valley, has always held a stigma of being uncool or, at worse, the land where porn was born. Thanks to Erin Stone and the rest of her comrades at 11:11, 818 might very well become the new 213 when it comes to the Los Angeles art scene.

So, who is Erin Stone? Her person is often times synonymous with 11:11, a grassroots nonprofit organization she co-founded to focus on San Fernando Valley’s creative community. Even I had trouble pulling her out of that mix so I could explain what makes her tick. Erin is a photographer and a great one at that. Her portfolio runs the gamut; commercial work, family portraits, events, headshots, and album covers, but personally, I think her conceptual art is her core. That’s because Erin is a true artist and visionary––someone who dreams. But compared to ordinary people, her dreams come to life, whether it’s a 2-D photograph or a 3-D organization that's gonna change the Valley’s reputation forever.

At the time of our interview, we talked at length about her thought-provoking piece called “Teeth: A Reoccurring Dream” which hung at 11:11’s semi-permanent pop-up gallery on the corner of Yolanda and Ventura. I hadn’t known, until Erin filled me in, that dreams of losing one’s teeth are quite common, and Erin had been having that same dream for a long time. Anybody can Google “dreams of losing teeth,” which I did, but somebody like Erin decided to make a photographic story of her experience instead. I guess you can say she sorta faced her demons by doing so and made an effort to understand why she kept having that dream. My Google search told me why or at least it gave a general answer. Losing teeth in a dream is a common symbol of anxiety. Teeth represent power and losing them, according to what I found, is attune to having a sense of powerlessness. I can’t say what goes on in Erin Stone’s head, but I can say there aren’t many of us who can do what she is doing for the Valley and not have some kind of anxiety about it. But, if you take a good look at the series of photographs that make up “Teeth,” I betcha you’ll find the answer.
Pictured first a woman holds several oversized teeth in her muddy hands. By the smudges on her cheeks and the disheveled clothes, she appears to have been run through the mill. The look on her face is one of terror, maybe even panic.  As Erin explained to me, the model is emoting embarrassment for the loss––as if she’s involuntarily lost control of a situation. 
In the next photo, the teeth are in the process of being buried by her. At first glance, you think she’s ridding herself of the evidence when in actuality she’s planted them. This is symbolically illustrated in the last photograph. A tooth, once hosted by a living soul, has been reborn––rooted in the mouth of Mother Earth where a new life has been generated.

There is no getting around the fact that Erin’s conceptual photography is indeed exploratory. Her artist statement reads that her goal is “to share her understanding of experiences and questions around intimacy, sexuality, insecurity, loss, and personal growth.” It’s a known fact that anxiety tends to come up during times of transition and often points to concerns experienced by the dreamer in waking life. Perhaps with Erin Stone, she has had some anxious moments in her life. I’m sure her thoughts and ideas have been entertained and discarded, they’ve come alive and died––birthed and rebirthed. Whatever the process is, I’m sure glad Erin Stone is dreaming because we are about to have one rockin’ art scene and it’s going to begin with the area code 818!