One of the standout galleries in Los Angeles, HVW8, just opened a new exhibition by creative director, designer, and fine artist Kevin Lyons titled Shits & Giggles. Wait, its more of a "collection of Art Stuff Loosely formulated to Make A Show." That is a good description, or better yet, "works on paper, cloth, and glass exploring the far reaching positive influences of St. Ides Premium Malt Liquor on Hip-Hop culture." There we go.
A great collection of installation shots from Lyons in process and the final works, some done in collaboration with Patrick Martinez, Skip Class and Baron Von Fancy. Photos by M. Selsky and T. Gibney.
From the artist...
I have never even had a sip of beer let alone one of the malted variety. No interest and therefore no real knowledge of how fucked up a forty can be. But having grown up in Hip-Hop culture I am well aware of its existence. Old E, Colt 45, and of course, the almighty St. Ides. With its beautiful packaging and Crooked I logo, not to mention that it rhymes easily with a lot of other nouns and verbs, there is no questioning its pop culture reference dominance.
But if it was just another nice bottle, great logo, and frequent lyric that literally was solely made to simply fuck people up, then I probably would not be writing this statement on its inevitable cultural significance.
St. Ides, like Hip-Hop itself, became much more complex and ultimately filled with contradiction and controversy. Like with women, drugs, homosexuals, fighting, guns, gangs, weed, and dealing….. malt liquor is a complicated little topic in Hip-Hop. While in and of itself, it really has no redeemable purpose other than being inexpensive and coming in a big bottle, it played a significant role in the culture that celebrates it. For better, or (most likely) for worse.
St. Ides however went from just another malt liquor to one of the biggest financial supporters and patrons of the musical form we call Hip-Hop. Whoever was running St. Ides or its marketing made a very well informed decision to bring aboard several of the rap industry’s youngest and brightest talent on both Coasts. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, The Dogg Pound, MC Eiht on the West Coast and Biggie Smalls and Wu-Tang on the East Coast. All young, all literally brand new, untested talents, at the very beginning of their careers. St. Ides put itself squarely in the center of the culture. Going with untested, but very talented individuals who would resonate even today, 20 years later. This was an extremely well-timed, very educated guess probably made on the ground by some very saavy marketing people. Like with the Vatican and Michaelangelo, rap had it’s own patron saint. Outside of the Sprite recordings, it would be 15 to 20 years later before we would see rappers used this significantly in a mass-marketed campaign.
Shits & Giggles
Through November 10, 2013
HVW8, Los Angeles