Asha Beta’s Investigation of Hidden Realities

Dearth, January 2009

Asha Beta is an ongoing multimedia project by Philadelphia-based artist Nicomis (“Nyx”) Blalock. Check out her brand-new website, blog and Flickr stream.

Though Nyx is New York City born and bred, these new sculptures  (photographed by the talented Ben Harris) are pure Philly. Everything about them reminds me of my beloved dirty city: exploring condemned houses and finding strange trinkets under the floorboards, admiring a skyline of abandoned factories, chillin’ with the Soap Lady at the Mütter. Indeed, Philadelphia is a very strange place. Lynch cites the city as his biggest creative influence, and calls Eraserhead his “Philadelphia story.” The Brothers Quay spent their formative years there. Edgar Allen Poe started a magazine (ok, he tried to start a magazine) in Philly. It’s definitely the place to be if you like grime, texture and decay (that’s another way of saying “if you like Philly Cheese Steaks,” for all you out-of-towners).

Extant Axis, April 2009

In fact, these scultpures remind me of a very specific Philly/Lynch memory: my first day in the city, which was the first day of 1999. Not only was it my first day in the city, but it was my first time at an art gallery. My friends and I got talking to the gallery owner, and it turned out that David Lynch had worked at that gallery for many years. She started telling us obscure anecdotes about Lynch. For example, we learned that that the old lady in The Grandmother was actually her mom, and that she had a blast filming. She took us to the back room and showed us this early David Lynch fine art etching (or another one exactly like it, I can’t remember).  But the best story she told us was about Lynch’s travel habits. Apparently, he had a habit of stuffing his suitcases with absolutely disgusting things: dead rodents, two-week-old, half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, worms, grubs. These were mixed in with his personal items: suits, toothpaste, a comb. He would travel like this through airports. Just ’cause. He sometimes lost his suitcases while traveling. Just… ’cause?

More gorgeous sculptures and my portrait of the artist, after the jump.

Dearth (detail)

Letoides, March 2009

Impetus, Jan 2009

Augustine, Jan 2009

Avatar, Jan 2009

Valinton Detail, April 2009

Another thing I want to quickly mention is that Nyx is one of the most stylish people I’ve ever met! Expect a full Coilhouse Style Vanguard soon. For now, here are just a few images:

My Portrait of Nyx, circa 2004

Portraits of Nyx (left: by Ben Harris)

Me and Nyx, chilling in Philly!

11 Responses to “Asha Beta’s Investigation of Hidden Realities”

  1. Vivacious G Says:

    Wonderful. Totally in love with her work and that is one of my favorite photos that you’ve done. Warrior woman! Thanks for this.

  2. s. suzuki Says:

    Wow, her work just blew me away. Love the texture, the intensity. Very strong work. Thank you for spotlighting her!

  3. Mer Says:

    These are fantastic! I’d love to see them up close… they have the same deliciously tactile, textured quality that work by many of my favorite sculptor/collagist/installation artists do.

    And I love that last pic so much. Those smiles are contagious.

  4. Ian Says:

    Agree with Mer. While it might be verboten, looking at the sculptures makes me want to run my hands across them, explore each crevice, each bump, each jagged edge (wow, did that sound pornographic). Also makes me want to put my face up real close see what they look like from an inch away.

    I’m not typically an art-appreciator (one of my many failings) but these works intrigue me like little else ever has. Thanks to Nadya for the post, and Nyx Blalock for the beautiful art.

  5. Kale Kip Says:

    All those little details seem so much in place, but I can’t really put my finger on it. It is like watching a story unfold. Love this.

  6. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Ah! Reminds me of childhood days spent exploring disused boathouses, lighthouses and old cabins! The treasures I’d find. The things that weren’t treasures to anyone but me! Indeed, ‘lady is an artist I needed to hear of. Thanks.

  7. asha beta Says:

    Awwww, shucks y’al!!
    If so many of you hadn’t made such great comments about my art I would’ve flayed Nadya for posting that last pic!!!
    Because of you all the embarrassment is totally worth it.
    Thank you!!
    @ Kale Kip- I’m especially glad you made that comment, because it’s very similar to what I wrote in my artists statement and I was really hoping it wasn’t just a load of BS!
    I know my work seems very Philly, Nadya, but don’t forget– Philly is just a Post-Apocalyptic version of New York in the Seventies with half the population dead from a plague and the surviving half left grossly disfigured. Very similar to the real NYC of the late seventies where I spent my most sponge-like years!
    Does anyone else besides me have to sudden urge to start carrying around disgusting things in suitcases??

  8. alumiere Says:

    interesting description of philly being the post-apocalyptic version of the nyc i grew up in

    as for disgusting things in suitcases – yeah when flying in/out of lax i would (the tsa people there are amazingly rude and incompetent and have broken my canes twice)

  9. Jerem Morrow Says:

    @ Asha I’d certainly made a mental note to commit to the practice!

  10. mitch Says:

    I’ve never liked filth and detritus so much! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more updates here, and I’ll definitely look at phily in a new light next time i’m there…

  11. The art of Nicomis "Nyx" Blalock | Renegade Futurist Says:

    […] (via Coilhouse) […]