Culture

Protect Your Art: Ahol Sniffs Glue Talks To Us About Art, Accidents, And Rolling With The Punches

Street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue may hold the world record for most eyes painted, ever.

His iconic eyeballs stare out from street corners all over Miami and beyond. A young graffiti artist of Cuban descent, Ahol tagged, painted and stickered Miami to the point that you can’t hide from the omnipresent eyes. His wild talent and dedicated passion have made him one of the most recognizable and respected street artists in the world. In 2014, Ahol found himself at the center of a scandal when retailer American Eagle used his artwork in a world-wide add campaign without asking permission or offering compensation. They settled the lawsuit out of court.

Ahol has played a big role in transforming the perception of street art from vandalism to high art. We caught up with Ahol Sniffs Glue to see what he had to say about life, art and his critically-acclaimed short film Biscayne World.

repost from @bodypaintography

A photo posted by Alouishous San Gomma (@aholsniffsglue) on

Credit: Instagram / aholsniffsglue

What are you excited about these days?

I still like writing my name on walls, and I still like stickers, but that’s kind of automatic. I’m doing jewelry stuff and selling it at the museum over here, the PAMM museum and The Standard. And the short film thing was pretty fun.

I went to SXSW; I did a panel talk with my lawyer regarding intellectual property and things.

About the American Eagle suit?

Not just that, but also going through that and knowing, as an artist, you do have rights and you gotta protect yourself. People’ve been bringing me out to different places to do different talks and empower people, to let them know that you can be an artist. You should stand behind your work and push it to many different boundaries and just know that if someone’s stealing from you, you do have a way of defending yourself with lawyers.

Do you feel like what you went through with American Eagle has affected your art?

I mean, as far as affecting me, it’s made me aware that this can happen to anyone. You have to [handle it] the right way. You can’t just go on the internet and start badmouthing people. Luckily I had a good lawyer, but I look at everything in a different way, you know? I tread lightly. It’s made me a lot more knowledgable about the creative world, the good and the bad, but it’s all punches we roll with everyday.

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Credit: American Eagle, via Miami New Times

You’ve said the characters in Biscayne World are an expansion of the eyeball…

I’m just continually trying to push the characters because it feels like the eyeball pattern and the eye went kinda viral, whereas the characters got left in the dust a little bit. But showing the movie and the story of it, people could see where it came from and my type of humor and approach to things.

What do you think it is about the eyeball that resonated with people so much?

To be honest, I know that the eyeball is something that’s been around forever. People can sympathize with it no matter what religion, no matter what language you speak. No pun intended, it’s iconic. [Ed. note: lol. Eyemazing.] It’s been around since hieroglyphics. There are some places where you wouldn’t be able to paint on a wall where they say, “Oh, no, we can’t have graffiti or murals or anything like that,” but they’re willing to let the eyeballs stay up because it’s like a pattern or a texture. I think people associate with it more because it kind of speaks to them in whichever way they want. The main objective to me is defining style, [and] for people to see it and be like, “Wow, that’s Ahol’s work.”

Credit: Instagram / archesart

Biscayne World features footage of you taking the bus after you got run over, and they totaled your scooter.

Even though I got run over, I still had to find a way to work, you know? It was basically making the most out of that situation. Even getting the footage from the actual [traffic] camera…

The funny thing is that we didn’t grow up rich or nothing. We grew up highly trashy. It’s kinda weird to see that you’re always like, “Oh, you can rely on the police, the police are gonna help you out,” or whatever. And then you get run over, and it’s not your fault. You’re hoping that the police are able to use these cameras that they have up there, and they end up just giving you a souvenir of you getting run over and not helping you because they never caught the lady [who ran me over].

You’re probably the one person that was able to use that souvenir as art.

That’s why I’m so proud of that movie, even though [when it comes to] short films, there’s not a bunch of money to be made or anything like that. But it got into a bunch of different film festivals and it got me to different parts of the world and it showed that people are interested. For Vimeo to make it a staff pick was really humbling. They never caught the lady [who ran me over], and I don’t wish her anything bad, but hopefully she’s not out there running people over, you know?

It’s that Cuban ingenuity, you know? Whatever you throw at me, I’m gonna make something of it.

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Credit: mitú

Tell us about some of the other work you’ve done.

I have done stuff for Lotus House, which is a battered women’s shelter. I did their logo for them, the little girl. For the eyes, for instance, I made them into hearts, and on the hairs, I put little bowties, so it was kind of a way of cleaning it up and making it aesthetically nicer for the type of situation it is.

I pick and choose what charities I align myself with, but those people are amazing. I mean, I’ve lost my mom to cancer, so to see women who need help, it makes me feel really good to be able to help out, especially with my art.

Did you lose your mother when you were young?

I was about 22 when I lost her to cancer. It’s something that you never forget, but it’s life, you know? You gotta roll with the punches. Sometimes those punches hurt more than ever, but you gotta deal with it, you know? Life is gonna keep throwing curveballs. Losing my mom really added a layer of realness to my life. Not holding back for nobody.

Do you feel like that affected your art?

When I was going to see her at hospice and taking her to chemo, […] it did make me question what I was doing. “Should I go to school for this or that?” It strengthened me a lot. Art has always been something I can rely on. But it’s rough. Everybody’s dealing with different things, that’s why you gotta treat people good.

Credit: Instagram / aholsniffsglue

Do you feel like there’s a message that runs through all your work?

Pretty much the whole concept of the movie and the way that I go about life is “every second counts.” Everything matters. Everything’s important. Even a little tag under a sink in a bathroom will be seen by somebody. And I’ve said it quite often it’s like living as a ghetto astronomer where you’re constantly tying constellations together and just making everything work. That’s why that whole balance of being able to flip stuff in the fine art gallery setting, but also still you know being able go to the ‘hood and paint something. Turning the corner always.

How do you think your work got so popular?

When people ask, “How come you’re up everywhere…?” to me it’s just second nature. It doesn’t take that much. If you’re remembering your wallet, and you’re remembering your cell phone, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t remember your stack of stickers and a marker. And that’s just like daily life. When people say, “Oh, nobody cares what I do, nobody listens to my artwork. I’m better than this person, I’m better than that person,” but that’s the good thing. You’re in total control of the frequency of what you put out there. So if nobody cares about you or likes what you do, well at least they know [your] name.

Did you ever think as a child that you would grow up to be a famous artist?

No, it’s crazy. I try not to listen to the wake that I create. I try not to get jaded by the ups. Sometimes they’re just as powerful as the downs, so got to just keep pushing and pushing.

I also gave a TEDx Talk about rolling with the punches. I made the best out of every situation. There’s time to sit down and cry about stuff you know, but I feel like one of those hippie buses that could run on gasoline, diesel or cooking oil. So whatever it is, I’m gonna make it work. The world doesn’t owe anybody anything, you know what I’m saying? We gotta make with what we got. A lot of times I felt that I got the shitty end of the stick because I didn’t get to go to art school and a lot of stuff, but you know what? I am who I am, and it is what it is, and thank God that everything happens how it happens. I just ask to be able to interpret and deal with whatever comes my way on a daily basis. As long as I go to sleep fine that’s all that matters, you know?

We totally know. Ahol continues to tour the country painting and inspiring fellow artists to live their lives to the fullest. Check out his raw and beautiful TEDx Talk and keep your eyes peeled for his new animated music video coming soon at www.aholsniffsglue.com

BONUS: Below, check out the teaser for Ahol’s video for Otto Von Schirach’s “Biscayne Block.”

READ: These 6 Artists Are Taking Their Work Beyond Gallery Walls And Into The Street

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The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

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The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

@BillCorben / Twitter

Readers of the Miami Herald and the El Nuevo Herald noticed a racist and anti-Semitic insert in one of the latest editions. The column in the insert compared BLM activists to Nazis while talking down about the Jewish community.

The Miami Herald recently published a racist and anti-Semitic insert.

The offensive piece, written by Cuban exile Roberto Luque Escalona, received harsh and immediate backlash. Escalona expresses his displeasure for the Jewish community and those seeking racial justice by joining BLM with one column.

“What kind of people are these Jews” writes Escalona. He then continues to “teach” Jewish people the history of the Holocaust and claims that BLM supporters are worse than the Nazis during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, because the Nazis simply destroyed things and didn’t steal.

The newspaper has apologized for the insert going so far as to admit that it was not properly vetted and that “internal failures” were at play.

According to an open letter, higher ups at the Miami Herald admit to the insert not being read and vetted by the staff. The obvious overlook led to a 40-page insert of right-wing propaganda to be distributed to the readers of both the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Since the publication, the Miami Herald claims to have ended their relationship with Libre, the insert with the racist and anti-Semitic content.

Those responsible at the Miami Herald admitted to not reading the insert before it was distributed.

“We are deeply sorry that inflammatory, racist and anti-Semitic commentary reached our el Nuevo Herald subscribers through LIBRE, a Spanish-language publication that paid our company to have the product printed and inserted into our print edition as a weekly supplement,” reads part of an open letter to readers. “The fact that no one in leadership, beginning with us, had previously read this advertising insert until this issue was surfaced by a reader is distressing. It is one of a series of internal failures that we are investigating in order to prevent this from ever recurring.”

Readers are outraged that the newspaper would allow such offensive things to be published and distributed.

The right-wing conspiracies pushed by Libre are part of a larger Spanish-language disinformation campaign targeting Cubans in southern Florida. The community has been inundated with disinformation ahead of the 2020 election preying on the fears and ignorance within the staunchly conservative Cuban community.

“It’s difficult to measure the effect exactly, but the polling sort of shows it and in focus groups it shows up, with people deeply questioning the Democrats, and referring to the ‘deep state’ in particular — that there’s a real conspiracy against the president from the inside,” Eduardo Gamarra, a pollster and director of the Latino Public Opinion Forum at Florida International University, told Politico. “There’s a strain in our political culture that’s accustomed to conspiracy theories, a culture that’s accustomed to coup d’etats.”

The disinformation is targeting Cubans because of the growing Latino communities who tend to vote Democratic.

According to Politico, the campaign is Cuban specific. The Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Dominican communities in Florida, which continue to grow, typically vote Democratic. These shifting demographics have left Republicans doing anything it takes to keep a strong hold of the Cuban community, even by means of racism, anti-Semitism, and disinformation.

READ: Politicians Need To Stop Assuming That The Latino Vote Is A Monolith Because It Is Not The Truth

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

Fotosearch / Getty

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have been known for having one of the art world’s most notoriously turbulent marriages. Both artists were guilty of having multiple affairs and straying away from their marriage, breaking up and getting back together only to become one again. Yet, despite their hard times, the Mexican artists had a bond that transcended the ages and one that has stirred countless discussions about their passion and love.

In a series of love letters from Kahlo to Rivera published in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait readers are given insight into both the anguish and longing that was woven into their marriage.

One letter, recently shared by the Instagram page @historycoolkids, shows a momentary rift in their marriage when Kahlo was preparing to have her leg amputated.

Written in 1953, the letter for Rivera was written while Kahlo was in the hospital.

It reads:

⁣”I’m writing this letter from a hospital room before I am admitted into the operating theatre. They want me to hurry, but I am determined to finish writing first, as I don’t want to leave anything unfinished. Especially now that I know what they are up to. They want to hurt my pride by cutting a leg off. When they told me it would be necessary to amputate, the news didn’t affect me the way everybody expected. No, I was already a maimed woman when I lost you, again, for the umpteenth time maybe, and still I survived.⁣

I am not afraid of pain and you know it. It is almost inherent to my being, although I confess that I suffered, and a great deal, when you cheated on me, every time you did it, not just with my sister but with so many other women. How did they let themselves be fooled by you?

Let’s not fool ourselves, Diego, I gave you everything that is humanly possible to offer and we both know that. But still, how the hell do you manage to seduce so many women when you’re such an ugly son of a bitch?

The reason why I’m writing is not to accuse you of anything more than we’ve already accused each other of in this and however many more bloody lives. It’s because I’m having a leg cut off (damned thing, it got what it wanted in the end). I told you I’ve counted myself as incomplete for a long time, but why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too? Now my fragmentation will be obvious for everyone to see, for you to see… That’s why I’m telling you before you hear it on the grapevine. I’m writing to let you know I’m releasing you, I’m amputating you. Be happy and never seek me again. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want you to hear from me. If there is anything I’d enjoy before I die, it’d be not having to see your fucking horrible bastard face wandering around my garden.⁣

That is all, I can now go to be chopped up in peace.⁣

Good bye from somebody who is crazy and vehemently in love with you,⁣

Your Frida”

Despite the letter, Kahlo didn’t “amputate” Rivera out of her life completely.

In fact, in her last days, Kahlo lived with Rivera and even made a public appearance with him in a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala. After her death, Rivera stated that her loss was “the most tragic day of my life.” Three years after his death, Riva requested to have his ashes mixed with Kahlo’s (this despite the fact that he married again after her death). Instead, the Mexican government opted to inter his remains in Mexico City’s famous Rotunda of Illustrious Men.

The message from Kahlo is being celebrated by her fans on Instagram as the “best letter in history.”

Fans of Kahlo called her letter “badass” and the greatest they’d ever read. “She was such a talent and such a twisted soul,” one user wrote in the post’s comment sections.

That part where she wonders why Diego was able to be such a womanizer despite being an “ugly son of a bitch” does pretty much make her badass.

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