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July 2016
Punk/Metal Flea Market Artists & Designer Feature

In conjunction with

Ramones Exhibit
Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk
Queens Museum of Art – April 10 thru July 31, 2016

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Ramones self titled 1st album that forever changed rock music and pop culture, a lifetime retrospective of the Ramones is being hosted by Queens Museum and the GRAMMY Museum in collaboration with Ramones Productions Inc., JAM Inc., and Silent Partner Management. It is an extraordinary collection of archival memorabilia augmented with every aspect of the band’s career and all those involved in their groundbreaking history. This exhibition will also be on view at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, September 16, 2016 – March 2017. I can think of no other rock/music band that has ever achieved the status of being considered worthy of an entire museum show at a major cultural art institution – except the Ramones at the QMA … who ignited the worldwide flames of punk rock!

Musicrealms attended this special exhibition not only to experience it, but to meet with the people who were participating in the Punk/Metal Flea Market which took place simultaneously at the museum on Saturday, June 25th, during Ramones Mania! These artists and designers are the feature of this article.


From the June 25th, 2016 Punk & Metal Flea Market at Queens Museum

Artist Michael Elardo (right) of fantastic Rude Girl Designs, with music associate Bryan Swirsky, at QMA.

The rocker lifestyle demands we seek the personal adornments and possessions that mirror our rebellious spirit and that help create the correct and pleasing ambiance for spaces we spend our time in. The rock community at large is comprised not only of those who perform onstage, but also those who generate other creative methods to express what we all feel from the music we love and live by. The best band is nothing without help from photographers, sound people, crew, DJ’s, artists, clothing and appropriate accessory designers, writers, fans, and a host of others who generally work outside of the limelight to make all this magic happen. It was musicrealms pleasure to meet up with and interview some very clever and innovative artists and designers who were participating in this special event -- creative souls who intrinsically convey the rock culture attitude by incorporating the kitsch, the cool and unusual, the dark, the odd, and

Dog lamp by Rude Girl Designs
sometimes bizarre, and the beautiful – often all in one piece. They somehow know exactly what is wanted and will be appreciated before we ourselves do! In some cases we were completely blown away by what had been presented -- and feel sure you will be too.

Most of the artists featured are part of the upcycle movement, that is: recycling usable items and re-fashioning them to various degrees = giving new life to good things that might otherwise be discarded for any number of wasteful reasons, and instead stylishly turning them back into art, repurposed serviceable items, or fashion.

Amanda K owns Spotted Skin Designs.

This uber talented jeweler features the most gasp-worthy selection of dazzling cameos and other miniature, animal-skull themed pendants. Dancing Pegasus, noble cats, a seated horned Devil on his throne -- and many other fantastical creatures adorn each elaborately framed wearable piece. These splendid cameos have a poetic and ancient mythological feel to them and could as easily be worn by supernatural Elves as well as metal gods and goddesses. Amanda also creates small sculptures involving tiny bones. In the artist’s own words: “The rock & roll in our souls is only complemented by the heavy metal in our blood, and our works reflect this in subtle
and not so subtle ways.” Acclaimed German jewelry designer/sculptor/artist Axel (RIP) met Amanda when she was a tattoo artist in 2002. He became her mentor, passing on his masterful techniques and tradition. Alex’s work can be seen in Guns & Rose’s “November Rain” video; and other aficionados/collectors of his pieces included Sebastian Bach, Gene Simmons, and other high powered rock stars. As his protégée, Amanda continues the work, expanding her own horizons in jewelry making and small sculpture.
also Twitter and Instagram under spottedskindesigns.

Monica Rakocy & Michael Elardo own Rude Girl Designs from Orange County, New York.
They put a totally bizarre and unique twist -- with a wicked and highly irreverent sense of humor -- on home goods and décor. These artists work with repurposed and upcycled items implementing wild decoupage techniques that mainly are incorporating early punk and hardcore flyers wildly affixed to their large human-sized mannequins and large dog mannequin sculptures that also serve as standing lamps. Each lamp is topped off by a fun-house style exposed bare red light bulb to create their totally distinctive and eye-popping pieces. These artists integrate a completely new imaginative expression to mannequins, large prayer votive candles, Grandma’s china, and more. And they can customize anything –even having done toilet seats to accommodate client requests.

Monica is a college professor at a Manhattan fashion school in the Visual Merchandise Dept. She also embellishes tea sets and fancy dinnerware that one would definitely not find in Martha Stewart’s

china cabinet – painted dainty plates and teacups with ornately written script that take common expletives to an entirely new level -- and other unexpected, original humorous words or sayings related to popular culture. Every angle of wit and humor is covered in her re-done china works. Michael is a lifelong punk/hardcore enthusiast and historical archivist of the genre who helped create their own unmistakable signature style in decoupage. He is always on the lookout for vintage flyers from that era. Who else can you think of that has a dinner set inscribed with the Seven Deadly Sins? And the next time you need a gorgeous serving platter that says “Fuck You” in elegant flowing letters – you’ll know exactly where to find it! or also visit

Shelby Cobra of Philadelphia owns Vicious Vesture, named in honor of UK punk symbol Sid Vicious. Her mission is to help change the fashion industry through ‘upcycling’ (making things new again) and hopes to see more independent designers thrive rather than just the mass production of ‘fast fashion.’ She attended The Art Institute of Philadelphia and in her 1st year of college (2010), enrolled in a Fashion History course and learned about British Punk culture. That late 70’s decade impacted her like a bolt of lightning. She fell totally in love with the punk aesthetic, having not even been born when it was in full swing. Shelby launched her company in 2013 immediately

after graduation. As an ‘upcycle’ artist/designer with a socially and environmentally conscious ethic: using vintage and recycled clothing = recycle/reuse/reborn is her fashion approach. Ms. Cobra has custom outfitted members of Philadelphia’s ‘Mananandgal’ -- a death metal band, and ‘Blend Mode’, an Electronica group. or or

Jahnny Vommit at age 23, is a spectacularly creative and busy artist/cartoonist - and rock singer - with brash humor and a bursting youthful energy. Educated at Fashion Institute of Technology, Gramercy Arts High School, and a School of Visual Arts graduate, Jahnny successfully merges her graphic images with razor sharp wit, charm and abandon. She began by making t-shirts in high school. Too young to have experienced the movement first hand, she carries the spirit of punk in her heart and work. Inspired by the Archie comics of her childhood, Jahnny has specialized in becoming a talented alternative cartoonist and illustrator. At the event, our writer Jeannie purchased from her the “Special From Satan” cookbook – a thin, photo-copied collectible limited edition gem containing a few typed recipes with hilarious comments/advice, lifestyle and grooming tips. Each page is illustrated from a folio of celebrity pictures Jahnny found in the street -- which inspired the strange little book -- to which she added her special improvements to those famous images. She enjoys creating limited editions of “random collections

of things” and I can vouch this slender Xeroxed book is a side-splitting find and a keeper! In addition, Jahnny creates all the artwork for her Brooklyn based band ‘Heavy Negative’ in which she is the vocalist. and visit my facebook page

Jenn Cortes owns Alternate Empire Art.

She is a painter and mixed media artist with a BA, Studio Art and Art History, CUNY Hunter College. She specializes in stunning miniature framed paintings, many of them being tiny and glorious portraits of birds, animals and cell specimen-like creatures of her own imagination which can also be worn as jewelry. They are reminiscent of the pre-age of photography miniature portraits carried by loved ones for remembrance sake. In the artist’s own words: “I focus on the small and hidden because I feel I am a very small speck in a very overwhelming universe. My artwork is an act of reflection. I enjoy being absorbed in every detail, as it serves as a meditation for myself. Many of the artworks
I make are about bringing the hidden to the forefront and shining a light on the miniscule. The subjects I select are embellished as a way to visually seduce the viewer. I adopt themes used in religious art and combine that with the precious nature of biological specimens. When I began making smaller works, I realized that they could be worn. Much like some jewelry, it is precious and alluring to the viewer and the wearer.

Bubba and his friend Bubba were manning the tables of Lucky’s Unique Antiques from Philadelphia, and absolutely killed it with furniture and lamps made out of large animal bones. If old friend Bryan Gregory of the Cramps were still

alive, he’d have bought their entire inventory. Someone mentioned “Deliverance” as they took in the offerings at his booth. A skillfully designed
standing-upright goat skeleton lamp demanded everyone’s immediate attention. Their interior décor creations have an almost prehistoric yet stylish and contemporary feel in Bubba’s beyond-Gothy version of home goods, bone-related sculptures and appropriate oddities that round out his offerings. Only the boldest of customers of this ‘shock furniture’ would venture to invite more reserved relatives over to the house for supper. You can also reach them here. 215-758-5714 or 609-222-1550

Jonelle Greene is a highly energetic and focused ’upcycle’ young designer, her specialties being bleached apparel and home décor design. This artistic Bronx native is also a graphic designer and a professional design consultant that has recently returned from assignment in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, as a high level corporate arts event planner. Jonelle formerly worked as a screen printer in Philadelphia and loved it, but moved back to New York. Since 2013, after creating some of her first upcycled pieces involving bleach and hand dyeing processes, she loved that the experiments with bleach created new forms with each textile experiment. People began to donate clothes for her to use, and this fit into her modus operandi of “keeping the flow going and not waste”… thus providing good materials to work with while

operating out of her grandmother’s storage unit as her work space. She took some classes at Mood, the hit TV show Project Runway fabric supply shop to augment her skills, and to this day uses her supportive and deceased grandmother’s sewing machine to keep that good lady’s spirit going into her work. Jonelle revamps sweaters into clever pull-on hats and reinvents plaid shirts by bleaching them out for a new modern-day look with added materials stitched on for detailing. She also had an assortment of distinctive hand dyed and elaborately painted t-shirts of her own designs on display. and


Musician Kenny Cintron (l) and Bryan Swirsky (r) holding 45’s

Bryan Swirsky was selling vintage records at this event. He is in part, a rare vinyl record collector/dealer, and can easily be called a punk historian whose life was changed by his introduction to the Ramones and Sex Pistols at a young age. Swirsky was younger than most of the people on the local downtown NY scene and the bands making the music during the early days of its inception, and was so highly influenced by it, that this led to his further career as a band manager. He has worked with such punk icons as Ari Up of the Slits (RIP), Slaughter and the Dogs, 999, to name a few. Bryan has taken his bands on tour through the U.S., Mexico, Europe, Latin America and Canada.

We met up with Symphony, the highly tattooed rockabilly doll and smokin’ upright bassist of the Living Deads from Philly. She explained that they travel all the time and basically live in their touring RV. Having a gig in Queens that night enabled them to attend the event at the Queens Museum earlier that afternoon. Our luck! – as Symphony she gave us a CD of the band’s music. Living Deads is raw Punk-a-Billy at its best – with an occasional bluegrass and/or classic country twist. Listeners will feel eerie shades of the Cramps in the twangy and reverb-laden sound of some of the tracks and of

forefather to the genre, Link Wray. This band is very reminiscent in vibe of the glory days of Max’s Kansas City and gives the same kind of untamed, bedlam kind of fun feeling. The few liner notes state that the album was recorded in various parking lots and basements while on endless tour. High five to low-budget cool. The Living Deads would be an excellent and highly entertaining festival band bringing an unexpected fresh jolt of roots-type rock into the mix with a wild stage show – either as their duo, or their trio … great for a large outdoor music gathering. or and or also and

Hitomi Nakamura Drums; Jenn Eden Guitar; Patty Rothberg Vocals; Rockelle Cakes, Bass;

The highlight of the Punk/Metal Market and closing segment of the day’s event was the anticipated performance of the all-girls Ramones tribute from New York City, Rockaway Bitch. A nice sized crowd assembled and rocked out to a classic Ramones set which included Blitzkrieg Bop, Judy is a Punk, Beat on the Brat, 53rd & 3rd, I Wanna Be Sedated, Rockaway Beach, Sheena is a Punk Rocker - amongst other favorites. Formed in 2014, current members of the quartet include Patty Rothberg, singer; Hitomi Nakamura, drums; Jennifer Eden, guitar; and Rockelle Cakes, bass. They have received props from CJ Ramone, bass (who replaced Dee Dee Ramone 1989-96) and Monte Melnick, the Ramones former Tour Manager, who even got onstage and congratulated the ladies on doing such a great job during the show. Playing their fast paced & fun set with enthusiasm and fervor amidst the historic Ramones exhibition was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that everyone there loved being part of – and a great time was had by all!

This Video was taken by our friend Timothy Riley.

Closing statement:

The interesting and creative artists that musicrealms featured here are keeping true to their individual visions while growing, and most have also made ‘recycling’ or ‘upcycling’ the foundation of their expression – a creative decision fully in step with the awareness and mindset against these throw away times. In their own way, these people are reinventing DIY – Punk, not by replicating or admiring it from afar as a time capsule of bygone days, but by breathing a new and exciting life into it for new 21st Century generations to understand, appreciate and enjoy.

Article & interviews/photos by
Denise Mercedes & Jeannie Pawlowski

Denise Mercedes: Founder/guitarist of The Stimulators. Artist Endorsed by Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden Tribute work: Former lead guitarist of Girls Girls Girls (2006-2016) and Bible Black NYC *An original project in the works.

Jeannie Pawlowski: Staff writer of Musicrealms has also been published in New York Natives Her early photos of the Bad Brains are on exhibition in Subliminal Projects Gallery’s “Banned in Babylon” The Art and Culture of the Bad Brains, Los Angeles, CA., July 23-August 20, 2016

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