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I will not stray from the truth, 2016 has been a bittersweet year for the United States. As a whole, we have suffered from an outpouring of hatred, political piracy, and deaths of beloved people. While, I could expand upon these issues, I won’t, I would like to focus on the positive, the events making 2016 good.

To start out 2016, I had left 2015 behind with many new paintings and an application submitted to graduate school for the 3rd time. I was burnt out. I began drawing again which has been the most pleasant experience for myself and inspirational. Painting is always a stressful media for me to use, being a perfectionist about my art and knowing with oils, I could easily modify, I would freak myself out over getting everything just right. When I went back to drawing, it forced me to let go of perfection and to work with mistakes. I also got to explore observational ideas as well instead of setting up a stage. This was a much needed transition for me artistically and payed off very well in helping to lead me to the next step. I played pretty low, didn’t participate it shows, just gave myself a break to work and solve artistic problems without putting myself in a strenuous mind set.

I also have been continuing writing poetry, my poetic expression expanded into short story writing. As I have been working on a poetry for the past eight years, I’ve now added a short story manuscript. This seems like a heavy load, but really its therapeutic and a work as I go type of process, not a commitment at the moment. With this, my songwriting has increased, there had been a death in the family of a person who was musical and had encouraged my music. It was unexpected for this person to pass on and came a week after I wrote my first song of 2016 to be recorded on a short demo. Somehow, I think he was passing his musical energy onto me. When these songs come to fruition, they will be dedicated to his memory.

Meanwhile, my cousin gave birth to a cute little boy whom I refer to as my nephew. He has been a joy to be around and watch grow. Talk about one of the happiest babies I have ever known! He smiles, giggles, plays, and now he’s trying to walk. He loves to play with my jewelry, I don’t mind at all. My Aunt Rosa used to let me play with all her breakables when I was a kid and never blinked an eye, with my nephew, I feel the same way. I trust my nephew to handle the jewelry with care and I make sure he knows what he can do with it in a proper way. (Of course he still has to learn boundaries, he’s a good little guy though.)

Over the summer I went to see Weezer, which I may have previously posted about. I got to hang out with our Weezer Fan Club Family. We all enjoyed the show, the guys did an amazing job as usual. What has been so great about being involved with Weezer is the wonderful people I have met and gotten to know. Everyone is friendly and although we all have our agreements and disagreements, it does not get in the way. What I have realized over the past couple years is community is extremely important and it doesn’t matter if they are right next to you or in a totally other state or country, as long as you build bonds with people and can communicate, you will be in a healthy place.

After the show, I had a slated move date to Los Angeles, I was set, I had bags packed, I was just trying to seal a deal on a lease. I couldn’t get anyone to lease a place to me due to not having a job in the state. There were so many obstacles getting in the way, it was to the point I had to go back to my job. This was not the only reason, I needed to keep my health insurance, then my Grandma’s health was threatened and I had to help my family get her back to a good state (She is doing better that ever now!), and then Frida Kahlo also had a hand in keeping me around. As much as I wanted to leave and finally start my new life and career, Big G had other plans, the Insurance provider had other plans, and Frida had her own plan too. I do believe there is a reason for everything and I know these are the reasons. I would have loved to have started my life again, but I guess my work here just was not quite finished. I get to see Frida this coming week for our visit. This was a long time coming and I cannot wait for our visual communication conversation.

Another reason keeping me in town was to make sure I did the best possible work on a poster commission. My good friend and former Screenwriting professor, Lorraine Portman had me create a poster for her comedy short film, Endangered!!! It was my first commission and one that would be at film festivals. Working in collaborating on the design was an awesome experience as Lorraine passed on her ideas and I brought them to life. This is a big deal for me, never did I think I would fulfill a dream of designing a real poster nor think it would get to be at film festivals and promoted online. Ten years ago, if I knew this would happen, my younger self would have been crazy excited! That girl would be proud of what I have gotten to do with Endangered!!!

This year also charged me up politically, my whole life I have been a Feminist. I’ve always been involved, but the unfortunate events have inspired me to expand my voice. In 2017, I plan to embark on artwork centering around people who feel victimized by hatred. I want to visualize them and write their stories to share with the world. I also want to be active in lending my voice to rallies, speeches, any public speaking engagement. I may be a powerful writer, but I am a charged up speaker as well and this passion needs to be channeled to the nation. Also, the plans to relocate to Los Angeles will happen for the sake of my future and health. With this, I would also like to get involved with the Girl Scouts and volunteer with a Troop. My students have inspired me to take action on this long pondered dream. I would share my stories about being a Girl Scout with my students and they would remind me of all the fun and prosperous activities they engaged in. I feel it would be a good group to be involved with again. I’ve also reapplied a 4th time for graduate school, I hope this time they will see I am an excellent pick. If not, I have so many plans, I know I will not be idle and my talents will be going to work for the greater good.

I sincerely hope we will have a good four years to come due to our fighting against the evil raised. Do I fear whats to come? Yes. This is why we retaliate with our votes, our voices, our art, our communities, everything, but peacefully, civilly. We must not be the hate we dislike. Do not turn yourself into a monster to fight the monster. Be a hero/heroine. Be a leader, be a role model, be positive, and support one another. If you see bad things, call it out, do not stand idle and be an enabler. Take back the good of this world and reject bigotry in all of its forms.

Happy New Year to all! There is light amongst the darkness, do not be afraid to walk through. Stay strong, be brave, enjoy the beauty of this world, do not forget it exists, do not believe it has died. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the manipulators.

-Johanna Falzone Dec. 31st, 2016

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So this is very exciting, 3 of my paintings have been featured of Words Dance Issue 14. I have provided a link bellow of which you came buy either a digital or print edition. If you purchase a digital edition, I will receive 50% of the commission. It’s beautifully put together and features great poets, so check it out! 🙂

Words Dance Issue #14 

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So before I formally respond I would like to note that the book “Art and Fear” and myself have a long history dating back to a couple of years ago at the St.Augustine Barnes and Noble store. I saw this book titled “Art and Fear” which I as a young naive artist would say to themselves, “I’m afraid of the art world, this might help me”, as I read the first part of this book I closed it quickly placing it on the shelf and began to run away (not literally runaway, but mentally), it scared the shit out of me. Lets face it, I have a problem with fear and this book was acknowledging that and I didn’t like it, so I find it quite funny for this book to be a required reading for Portfolio because it is the very book that made me want to cry in fetal position in the back isle of Barnes and Noble.

1. What work have you made that seems most yours? Why?

– This is hard to answer, but I feel very closely bonded to my Marie Antoinette drawings, Cyclops’, drawings of people who inspire me who suffer from mental health problems, my Sylvia Plath paintings, and That Fucking Bitch series. The Marie Antoinette drawings along with the people who inspire me just come naturally they are people I love and era’s of art that I love, anything rococo or pop-culture themed gets me excited especially when I am drawing it. The cyclops’ and other related characters are inspired from my childhood and everyday life and have humor attached and being a lover of comedy I am extremely influenced by that and what to show it in my work. The Sylvia paintings are very personal, reading her journal just made my summer, it was amazing to see how I could relate to this woman. Finally That Fucking Bitch series is just the most fun and hysterical short filming I have ever done, and its great despite how offensive some people think it is, as they say “Don’t apologize for your art”. I could never pick one work that seems the most mine out the ones I have mentioned because they are all pieces of me.

2. What do you care about?

Puppies, Exercise, Eating Healthy, Fashion, Music, Poetry, My Mom, Cousin Elizabeth, My Dog Little Larry, Ruby (dog I babysat), Monsters, Crime, Politics, Feminism, Gun Control (get rid of em!), Mental Health Problems and all their sub-categories, Books/ Literature, Life in General, Writers Block, Artist Block, Money, My Personal Health and Hygiene, Pop-Culture (celebrities and all that crap), My Thyroid, Punk Rock, Cleanliness, Religion, Pro-Choice, Pro-Meat/ Carnivore and proud of it, Men (hot guys who are funny, outgoing, nice, polite, pays for dinner, male feminist, in case anyone wanted to know although im pretty verbal about this), Telling the Truth (lying only when needed), Not getting raped, Getting Married and having Kids (who would have thought?), Punching out a Republican (verbally or physically, both would satisfy), TV shows like True Blood, Criminal Minds, Project Runway, Grimm, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Roseanne etc etc etc, Comedy, Ballet, Modern Dance, Photography, Painting, Drawing, Lifting Weights (get pumped get huge)

3. Which of these ideas resonates most with you, and why? If they all resonate, how do they differ?

-Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, well, I was not excited about this question… because I feel I don’t create in the world, I mean I create in my world people just happen to be in it. I guess it is something I do about the world because I address real people and real life issues and interpret them either comically or just as a simple visual. I want people to know there is a reason, a method to my madness, only I seem to have little faith the world could see that sometimes. I don’t make art for the world, I feel that’s more of a graphic design advertising type philosophy, I need to like what I do before other people because if I did not like what I make then I would never make anything shrivel up like a raisin sitting in a dry southwest summer and die.

4. Who are artists that are making work that relates to you? Are there other influences? How are they connected to your work?

SO MANY, MUST ORGANIZE!

btw: Matthew Barney scares the fuck out of me, don’t expect him to be on this list despite my love for cremaster 1.

These people mentioned bellow are connected to my work in childhood nostalgia ways and basically I like what they do, what they stand for, how they came in this world and how they left it. The journeys these people went through to get to their places intrigue me, I love reading biographies and journals to learn more about these people, I love watching interviews, I love watching them perform or looking at their art. Each person has a unique personality and ego and I learn from their qualities not just their work. I try to incorporate my similarities with them into my work whether it be a punk rock theme or a rococo theme or a cinematic theme.

Visual Artists: Tim Biskup, Mark Ryden, Edgar Degas, Marion Peck, Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Nicolas de Largillière, Bernini, Roy Lichtenstien, James Rosenquist (not just because he lives 30 minutes from my house, it would be a mericale if he actually came out of his house!), Andy Warhol, Janine Antoni, Vadis Turner, Judy Chicago, Audrey Flack, Cindy Sherman, Peter Max, Bob Masse, Makode Linde (genius), Jessicka Adams, Ray Caesar, Eric White, Heather Horton, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Camille Rose Garcia, Dame Darcy, Chuck Close, Bobbie Russon, Marilyn Minter, Richard Avedon, David LaChapelle, Barbara Morgan, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Shawn Barber

The videos I have posted are of Tim Biskup, I am choosing one person from each category to elaborate on. So Tim Biskup, he was the first artist to bring me into this Pop-Surrealism movement, he did some artwork for The Space Twins albums and that was the first place I saw his work and then I googled him and got hooked. It’s amazing he really gets my point of view on the art world, I always say he’s the one artist I could sit down with and have a 3 hour conversation about bashing the art world (this would be awesome in real life, yes Tim Biskup I am hinting that I want to get coffee and talk art even though I have never met you and I’m some strange art student). I always felt like I was an outsider because of my views until I watched interviews with Tim and now I’m like yeah, I have this opinion and I’m not the only one with it!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/34840282″>VOV WITH TIM BISKUP AND ERIC WHITE</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/madeblog”>MADE</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Comedians:

Roseanne Barr, Chelsea Handler, David Letterman, Larry David, Bill Cosby, Weird Al

Roseanne Barr, genius of all women comedians. She has inspired me to go as far as I want with comedy. What else more can I say, its pretty obvious.

Filmmakers/Screenwriters:

Wes Anderson, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson, Peter Jackson, William Goldman, Brian Grazer, Sofia Cippola, Joe Wright, John Lee Mahin

Wes Anderson films have always stuck out to me because of their narrative, I like when filmmakers tell meaningful stories that are new rather than something generically bad Rom-Com like for example Brides Maids ewwwwwww. Anyway, the characters have quirks which I like in my own work, quirks make things interesting, fun, and relatable. I also like that I have to think about Wes Anderson films, after seeing Moonrise Kingdom I spent a long time thinking about the film and all the little parts that one will look over when watching the film for the first time. I can also relate to the awkward characters and their problems unlike other films by generic film/screenwriters who shall not be mentioned.

Musicians/Bands:

Babes In Toyland (Kat Bjelland/ Katastrophy Wife), Hole (Courtney Love), Nirvana (Kurt Cobain), No Doubt (Gwen Stefani), Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney, Veruca Salt, Letters To Cleo, Mazzy Star, Band of Horses, Spice Girls, Katy Perry, Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), R.E.M., Radiohead, Weezer, The Relationship, Space Twins, Alice In Chains, The Beatles, Blur, Bob Marley, Carnival Art, The Clash, The Cure, The Smiths, Rage Against The Machine, Green Day, Interpol, Jimi Hendrix, Kenickie, Mint Royale, Led Zeppelin, Credence Clearwater Revival, Madness, The Specials, The Mamas and The Papas, Manic Street Preachers, Massive Attack, Meat Puppets, Metallica, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mika, Green River, Pearl Jam, Pixies, The Police, The Rentals, Save Ferris, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime, The Verve, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, The Temptations, L7, Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney

Babes in Toyland have to be one of the most influential bands for me next to Hole. Kat Bjelland is so powerful and her stage presence is like no other with her high pitched voice and screams and crazy eyed look. She’s gifted at writing and playing and I love her for everything she is. I aspire to be a woman like that, I’ve always loved music and writing and seeing women in the music world like her is the best kick in the butt to get going! Kat expresses anger musically and that’s something that I would love to do. I was not the popular kid, I had quite a lot of enemies as a child (bullies) so many that loooong before facebook I would draw pictures of the people who bullied me and would pin them to my dart board and my brother and I would take turns throwing darts at them, only now instead of throwing darts I’d rather throw out words.

Poets and Writers:

Eric Erlandson, Sylvia Plath, T.S Eliot, Robert Lowell, Shakespeare, Charlaine Harris (oh true blood), Jane Austen, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allan Poe, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, E. E. Cummings, Flannery O’Connor, Dante, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Donne,  Joyce Carol Oates, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreou, Nathaniel Hawthorne, C.S. Lewis, Chekhov, Dorothy Parker, Tony Hoagland

Sylvia Plath has always been my favorite poet since I bought her collection Ariel in high school. I always felt a connection with her poetry and recently read her Unabridged Journals along with the Bell Jar. I posted an interview with Plath because I always find it funny that she was so bubbly and happy and carried an ego on the outside when in fact she was the opposite on the inside. She manipulates her voice in my opinion to be so proud and I think Plath behind closed doors was very light. I always try in my own poetry to be honest and more confessional than the confessional poets, Plath certainly put me in that direction, I feel people are ready for even more honest poetry that will strike people at their most vulnerable spots.

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