Olive Goil: Alexandra Valenti

These days everyone is a photographer, right? Instagramming, blogging, and smart phone documenting our lives, with an array of apps and filters at our disposal and in the palm of our hand.

But my dears, let us not forget that photography is an art. There are vibrant, imaginative folks who devote all of their time and talents to creating enduring, moving, poignant imagery for the rest of us to enjoy.

So let’s tip our hats and give a sweet curtsey to those who do their thing and do it well. Respect, my dears, it is all about respect.

That is why today’s Olive Goil is the absolutely stunningly talented Alexandra Valenti, an East Coast gal who moved to Austin, Texas, picked up a camera and some paints… and let her mind open wide.

Her photography, blasted, blown-out and beautiful, captures a place and time that seems to exist in a dream – gorgeous landscapes, striking models, vintage clothes…it’s a world I’d love to step right into… and never leave.

Miss Valenti does high fashion shoots with the eye of a country girl, bringing all that high falootin’ fashion swagger – straight back down to earth. Clothes and jewelry seem all the more wearable and more lovely in her photographs, shot in what you can imagine must be an atmosphere of adventure and fun.

And when Miss Alexandra adds her paints to the prints, something thrilling and magical happens. Her bright patterns and illustrated embellishments serve to transform a mere photo of a woman in a dress – to the level of fine and lovely art.

Respect my dears. Respect to Miss Valenti and to all the other photographers, musicians, writers and artists, etc etc… who remind us of the importance of authenticity and true talent… in this crazy, mixed up digital world.

Live Olive: Amy Jo Diaz

Dearest readers, please say a how do you do to Miss Amy Jo Diaz, artist and all around amazing gal.

When I first saw Miss Diaz’s works I was absolutely smitten – her art is somehow stunning, thoughtful and playful all at once. The perfect balance of painting, collage and illustration, each piece is touched with a vision of her very own – a world sun-faded and lovely and romantic, but in an utterly modern way.

Miss Amy Jo has shown at galleries all over the globe, painting murals in Paris and impressed Tokyo with a show there this month. There is something in her art that reminds me of sea and sand and blasted sky, mixed with hints of high fashion and eloquent sophisticated oomph!

Miss Amy Jo Diaz was kind enough to answer some questions for us, so listen up lovelies and learn!

When did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?

I’m not altogether certain I have decided yet!  I know when I decided that I had an interest in art as a practice when I was around 16 years old.  I graduated from high school and most of my friends went to college.  I wasn’t pushed to do that, so I partied.  I met a lot of new people this way and found that a large majority of them were involved in the art department at the community college.  It sounded like a fun place to hang out all day, so I went and signed up for some classes.  I soon realized that the place my mind went when I was focused on creating something was very similar to this otherworldly zone I was into when I was an endurance runner (random?).  I think they’re similar because, in both, I am the decision maker, I set the tone, I map the course, I can go as fast or as slow as I want to go, turn where I want to turn, I can stop and start when I feel like, perhaps as an escape from anxiety and stress and practical behavior.  In creation, I can be risky and irrational and silly or I can explore sadness and longing and nostalgia.  Then I can leave it there, look at it again, see it in a different way, show it to someone else and get off on what they see or feel.  It’s a strange way of communicating something that’s in me, but I may not understand it all the way myself.

What were some of your early inspirations?

The Salvador Dali Museum, photocopied party flyers, dramatic make-up, this illegal bar called the Impulse, tattoos, graffiti, skateboard graphics.  I remember, too, getting really excited by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Egon Schiele, and Gustav Klimt.  Their confident animated lines, their color palettes.

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

La Sagrada Familia.