Friday, August 16, 2013

Sean Boyles - the Cyclorilla Lives

Sean Boyles is a San Jose art legend. He may not admit it, but the guy has so much history within the art community of San Jose you'd be hard pressed to find someone who wasn't familiar with him or his work.

He and his lady, Roan Victor, own The Arsenal, an art supply shop that, uniquely, is run by actual working artists. Because of this, The Arsenal actually feels different and functions different than your typical art supply shop. The items in the shop are chosen based on function, not cost. And thats function gained through experience, an attribute that most clerks or owners in an art supply shop can't attest to.

Sean is a member of the old Crab Shack crew, out of Oakland. Some extremely talented artists lived together while going to the California College of Arts and Crafts, and they lived above Arts Crab Shack on Broadway. Included in this amazing bunch were Sean, Joe To, Rob Sato, Ako Castuera, Ryohei Tanaka, and David Choe.

Sean has always surprised me at the high amount of work he can produce, and at a consistently high level. It seems like every week he has some project he's doing, some live painting event to participate in, some mural piece to finish. You'd think a guy running his own business would take it easy on his own personal art, but its like he's actually increased his output. I was very pleased that he included The Last Cat art show in his schedule and I asked him a few questions related to his pieces, and about him and the shop in general.

thelastcat: So how long have you been in San Jose? I'd assume your whole life.

Sean Boyles: Pretty much. I lived in Oakland for about 6 years, that's how I met Joe, Dave, Rob, Ako, and Ryohei. But there's no place I've lived longer, or would rather live. I grew up here. It's home.

thelastcat: Tell me about the Cyclorilla. How did you come up with him? Does he have a back story?

 Sean Boyles: I started painting them a few years back because they made me laugh a little. I was painting a bunch of monsters and zombies, and I remembered this painting from that thick-ass-heavy art history book they make you buy in art school. The guy's name was Odilon Redon, and he painted a giant, dorky looking perv, cyclops, creeping out behind a hill, spying on a naked lady sleeping. It made me want to paint a giant cyclops, but I made it more beastly and less pervy, and still kept it dorky. It sort of came out like King Kong, but it had bright white male tits(well really more nipple than boob), and a matching beer belly. That was the godfather to the cyclorillas.

Sean Boyles: I like to think of them as being part of the planet of the apes mythology. When the monkeys get smart enough to start running the joint, they'll explore their cave monkey days, and come across some one eyed gorilla paintings, and since humans are stupid filthy animals, they'll figure a monkey painted them, and I'll be in the ape art history books.  probably as an unknown monkey, because I always forget to sign my paintings.

thelastcat: How long has The Arsenal been around? What gave you and Roan the idea to open it?

Sean Boyles: San Jose has some things going for it. There's a drive in, a couple good flea markets, some good people, a lot of artists...but it's always had shit for art stores. There's a michaels and Aaron brothers here and there, and there's this other corporate chain store, but they're based out of palo alto, so they're overpriced, uppity, and for old hobbyist. Me, Roan, and other artists would always go up to Berkeley, Oakland, or San Francisco to buy non generic art supplies. See when you're an artist or creative person from San Jose it's harder for you. The city doesn't really have a rich history of supporting artists, or have a ton of venues like San Francisco. There aren't a bunch of affordable live work, studio spaces, or artists communities like in Oakland. But there's a ton of talent here. I mean there's over a million people. So as an artist you have only a few options. Option one: deal with it, meaning take occasional trips to Oakland, San Francisco, or Berkeley.
Option two: move.
We chose option three: build your own, support your own community, make our city the way we want it. All my favorite San Jose people are doing the same thing: making our own galleries, our own shops that sell what we like, our own clothes, music, whatever. When people say "San Jose sucks, there's nothing to do, I'm moving to the city", I always think, cool. You won't be missed. Go be entertained in the city, or wherever. This city isn't for everybody. It's for people who take what they need, and make what they want.

thelastcat: Why did you guys start doing art shows at The Arsenal?

Sean Boyles: It's funny, when we first opened we never wanted to do art shows. There was already too much to figure out, and too much to do opening and running an art store. I've been tired since 2011. That first year was my least productive year as an artist. I think what's changed is, we're trying our hardest to make the store great, but with us just doing it on our own, it's going to be a marathon. So on our way to growing our store to meet our vision, we can do other things we're good at: teach classes, print shirts, host pop up shops, and have art shows. We also have some good people around us. Regin, Roan's sister knows the system better than all of us, and Augie can do anything. He's helped build walls and shelves, painted signs, and knows his art materials.

The thing I like best about our art shows is that there's no pressure to seek out the next big trend. We don't have to count on selling out our shows to pay the bills. The art store is for that. This gives us the freedom to show artists we like based entirely off of their work. So far the art shows have all been busy and the art sales have been good. We're proud to be hosting The Last Cat Art Show, and I can't complain, I got to be a part of it.

The Last Cat and The Arsenal were recently able to collaborate on a mural in SF. The Last Cat sponsored it, and let Sean Boyles (with the help of Joe To) do his thing on the massive 15ft tall 18ft wide wall.

Its in Taber Alley in the South Park area of San Francisco, off of 3rd street.

Defintely go check it out on the way, take a pic in front of it, enjoy it. We'll be working on some more projects too, so you'll see some other murals soon.
Sean Boyles work can be seen right now at The Arsenal, and online at:
Email me at if you're interested in a piece.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aaron Martinez - friend to cats everywhere

First off, to get this out of the way and in the open, Aaron Martinez is my brother. You could say I've known him a long time. And in that time, he's always been drawing. Always, always, always. He's probably drawing something right now, on a napkin at a restaurant, taking in the conversations around him and forming them into a visual narrative. And its probably also a good bet that there will be a cat in there somewhere.

In Aaron's work, you'll find a reflection of the world around him, through an imagination influenced by such elements as comic books, prowrestling, sci-fi aliens and robots, saturday morning cartoons, LA culture, NBA basketball, mexican culture and food, dinosaurs, low riders, classical art, video games, and of course, cats. To look into Aaron's work is to flow down the stream of his thoughts and see all the combinations of these elements interlocked together. And it all surprisingly fits. It makes sense in these combinations.
thelastcat: How long have you been doing art? (pretend I don't know)

Aaron: I've been doing art for a really, really, long time. Since I was a little niƱo. I always loved drawing and it's all I ever wanted to do. I bet most artists share this same exact story. To keep it short, I'm just going to say that I attribute my love for art to having a creative and supportive family. If my family didn't encourage me as a child I wouldn't have kept drawing and who knows what I would be doing right now. Maybe I'd be working at the Blockbuster Video in South Pasadena, I don't know.

thelastcat: Except all the Blockbusters are closed now, so you'd be out of a job!

thelastcat: Talk about your use of art in the professional world. What have you been doing for work, and what have you been doing lately?

Aaron: I've been working in the Fashion Industry for the last 10 years. I started as a Graphic Designer at a sporting goods company in Burbank, called Buddy's All Stars, where my Dad works. Since then I've worked as a Graphic Designer for Element Skateboards, Forever 21, and currently I'm an Art Director and Designer for the band Odd Future. From creating a clothing and merchandise collection to designing album art, websites, and tour flyers, my job keeps me super busy. When I'm not working I'm hanging out and having fun with my girlfriend, Hilliary, all my friends, my family, and my two cats; Chico and Chyna.

thelastcat: What is the story behind Los Gatos? How did you come up with them?

Aaron: Los Gatos! Los Gatos is my made-up kitty cholo gang inspired by the stray cats of Los Angeles. These cats don't care about anything but living la vida loca. Haha!

 thelastcat: What mediums did you use for these pieces in the show?

Aaron: I used pen & ink and colored pencils for THE LAST CAT show pieces. I like the bold contrast of black and white and the texture that I can get from fine pencil work. I'm inspired by Comic Book Art, Tattoos, and Lowriders.

 thelastcat: Whats the story behind werewolf boy? And robot kitty?

Aaron: Werewolf Boy is one of my alter egos. I made a portrait of him during his (and certainly my own) High School awkward phase, Junior Year. When I see werewolves in TV shows and movies they're always super buff and good looking guys with awesome powers. I'm more interested in hearing about a down-to-earth, nerdy, greasy haired, outcast - overly stressed from being a teen AND a wolf. 

Robo Kitty has it rough. Nobody wants a Robot Kitty! He lacks all the characteristics that make soft, furry, kitties cute! Poor Robo Kitty - he's on an endless journey to find meaning and purpose for his existence. Who made him? If he's a robot why does he need to nap most of the day?

thelastcat: What was the motivations behind the Batman piece, and the 'minds playing tricks on me piece'(the piece above with the guy smoking)? They both seem to carry deep thinking within them.

Aaron: The 'Batfriend' piece is sort of a self portrait. I'm realizing that most of these pieces are. I can draw characters to illustrate different parts of myself. Batfriend is a 'Kick Ass' type of character who dreams of becoming a real super hero but lacks any traditional super heroic qualities.

'My Minds Playing Tricks On Me'  shows my stream of consciousness. This piece turned out to have a made-for-tv horror vibe so I gave the main character a Freddy Krueger crewneck sweatshirt and filled the background with cutey monsters, unsung villains, and other shady deviants.

Aaron Martinez's recent art can be seen in The Last Cat art show, now at The Arsenal in San Jose. Or seen online at
Email me at if you're interested in a piece.
And you can see Aaron's work anytime you see something from Odd Future, or for that matter, anytime you see something from The Last Cat.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

noa- ~ mounts of ash, time passes, and a sakura ~

noa- is one of the most talented artists working in the bay area today. His style and technique are distinctly his own, utilizing a mix of traditional japanese influences with bay area cultural elements, including hip hop, cannibis, and street art.

He does live painting at so many bay area events during the year, it would be easy to take him and his work for granted. Especially because he seems to create his work effortlessly, kinda flowing out of him. But when the work is done, and you step back to see it, you realize what a master of his craft the guy is. I've know noa- for some years now, and he still amazes me with his art.

thelastcat: I know you now call Oakland home, but how long have you been in the bay area now?

noa-: More than 10 years.

thelastcat: And how long have you been working in the art scene out here?

noa-: About 5 years.

thelastcat: Tell me about the long pieces in the show, the 'good time passes' pieces.

noa-: I was trying to capture the quickness of how good times pass, how they surround me and pass quickly.

thelastcat: Tell me about your sakura piece, I really love use of the petals in it.

noa-: It was inspired by a cherry blossom I saw in Japan with my love.

thelastcat: We have three pieces from your mount of ash series in the show. I think the method you used in making them is one of the coolest aspects of them, can you talk about that?

noa-: All of the pieces are drawn with ash from my days of smoking cannabis either by myself or with my friends. All the themes of the pieces are inspired with a word or slang term from cannabis culture.

noa- 's work can now be seen at The Arsenal in San Jose, or online at:
His Mount of Ash zine and sticker/button packs are also available at The Arsenal, as well as online at

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jonathan Gregg - Armed trilobites - pen on paper

Jonathan Gregg's art invites you to stare.
As you look deeper into them, you can see the level of skill and patience applied in the details.

Each dot has its place, and each dot has its mirror across the page.
Jon was raised in the central coast area of California, and has been in San Francisco since 2005.
I asked him a little about his work, to try and get some background on his style, subject matter, and attitude towards these pieces.

thelastcat: So tell me about your work, why the trilobites?

Jon Gregg: I've always been really into insects, especially beetles, so the love for trilobites just came about over time. Exoskeletons are just the best thing ever, I wish I had one. All the built in battle gear is a really good look, they lucked out. I tend to draw the trilobites surrounded by weapons or tools, which I feel came from setting up my G.I. Joes as a a kids with tons of weaponry at their grasp.

thelastcat: Tell me about the paper you used for these pieces, they seem like old vintage graph pages.

Jon Gregg: Being a lightweight hoarder, I gather a lot of art materials at flea markets, thrift store, and estate sales. Its a favorite pastime. Old supplies pair well with ancient subject matter.

the last cat: Who are some artists that have influenced you, or even any influences for that matter?

Jon Gregg: Favorite artists would be Brian Froud, Lebbeus Woods, Alex Kopps, and Aaron Horkey. Things that influence me are insects, fossils, 80's toys, earth tones, Sade, and old Mobb Deep.

Jonathan Gregg's work can be seen right now at The Arsenal gallery in San Jose, or online at: