BEAUTIFUL STUFF FOR AN UGLY WORLD

Some things that are shaking me up, expanding my world view, and making me remember that the world is full of wonder and unexpected beauty, in the midst of, in spite of, or maybe sometimes as a result of all the bad shit.
  1. Kerry James Marshall
    I saw an exhibit of his large scale paintings at MOCA, and it was one of the most moving art shows I've seen. Marshall's paintings are so successful in illustrating his emotional truths and the way he experiences the world, both as an African American and as an artist. By illuminating the African American experience with his epic works, he successfully creates an alternate history of art that acknowledges his history and culture, making us understand how glaring the omission has always been.
  2. Shit Town
    Wow I had no idea what I was in for with this crazy beautiful convoluted complicated thing. More than almost any media I've ever experienced, it made me question my assumptions, and respect how complex and strange and unexpected people are, if you'd just listen to them. Earth-shattering, heartbreaking and fascinating.
  3. Beyoncé's Lemonade
    Old news maybe, but still doing it for me. When I heard/saw this music/film the day it came out last year, it felt like a pop culture game changer. A cornerstone of contemporary feminism, a celebration and deconstruction of black history, of personal and cultural history, a reinvention of the personal narrative. While watching that first time, I honestly had the thought: what a time to be alive. The world has changed since then and i'm even more grateful for this beautiful battlecry.
  4. David Shrigley
    The hilariously grotesque, slyly insightful, and cynical yet big hearted artwork of David Shrigley is full of beautiful contradictions. His sparse, simplistic and crude lines somehow accurately convey all the complexities of the world.
  5. American Honey
    Andrea Arnold's film is a beautiful wander across America. It's ugly and sad out there, but also exhilarating and full of possibility, a place where a 17 year old runaway girl can be invincible and bad pop songs can be transcendent.
  6. Pictures From Home
    I just bought myself a present: Larry Sultan's Picture From Home, in which he takes startlingly moving yet mundane photographs of his parents in their home and writes beautifully about why he is compelled to do so, and also talks candidly with his parents, who don't really get it, and don't see any truths about themselves in the images. Nostalgic, full of longing, honest and fascinating in how it captures the perspective of photographer and subject, parent and child.
  7. Richard Brautigan
    This guy's prose and poetry of the 60s and 70s is irreverent, whimsical and deceptively complex. My favorite piece, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone, is a weird short story comparing a woman he loves to an educational film about electricity. I read it at least once a month. It is fortifying.
  8. Moonlight
    The reason it is so unshakably good is because it does what all stories strive to do: takes a small, simple story and makes it feel huge, giant, as big as anything. Universal. Personal. Cosmic. Intimate.
  9. Native American Ledger Art
    Artists tend to use the medium most available to them. As buffalo hides became scarce in the late 19th Century, Plains tribes resorted to drawing on the next-most abundant material: paper from accounting books from interactions with traders and missionaries. Now, a new generation of ledger artists are reviving the art form, recalling their cultural history, and the cultural collisions along the way. So beautiful.
  10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
    This YA series of four epic books is not perfect, but it's so damn magical. The second book, The Dream Thieves, is especially easy to get lost in. It's a motley crew of characters banding together in search of wonder, and watching them find it, in various unexpected ways, is thrilling. Also, the audio book version, read by talented hunk Will Patton, is a whole new kind of wonderful.
  11. Nathaniel Russell
    I call him my guru. His art is a perfect combo of philosophy and humor, he's a surfer dude of the cosmos. I think I'd marry him if I could. Reading his text, whether light hearted or deep (often both), I regularly think thoughts I've never thought before. He sees the world in a singular way and I love getting to experience that point of view.