Artists consumer reports

Consumer Reports: Trevor Shimizu

Trevor Shimizu was born March 30, 1978, in Santa Rosa, California. His mother was born in Japan, and his father was born in Hawaii. He lived in Sebastopol, California, with his parents and sister until 1996. He moved around Santa Cruz, Oakland, and San Francisco for a few years. In 2002, he moved to New York, where he currently resides with his wife and daughter. He has staged solo exhibitions at venues including 47 Canal, New York; the Green Gallery, Milwaukee; Misako and Rosen, Tokyo; and Galerie Christine Mayer, Munich.

Shimizu’s Consumer Report is an action-packed dispatch from São Paulo, where the artist was in the middle of installing a two-person exhibition with the great Japanese artist Ken Kagami at the gallery Mendes Wood GM. In addition to those activities, we get a Brazilian rave scene report, a couple of studio visits and the viewing of a morning television show which features a puppet as a co-host. Plus: a look back to the stint Shimizu spent as a party photographer, which just happened to be right around the time of the electroclash explosion in New York City. And more! —John Chiaverina

Saturday, February 17

Eating at a luxurious iPad restaurant/bar in the Newark International Airport. They’re playing Sade. The eating area is a narrow corridor, flanked by two identical bars. Both bars appear to have a good whiskey selection. Each table resembles a business class seat on an airplane, with leather seats, large private area, and iPads displaying a Start page. Before ordering your food on the iPad, you’re asked to scan your boarding pass on the home screen. I ordered a chicken sandwich since I’m watching my cholesterol. I’m not sure how I should wait. I don’t see anyone around. FaceTime Erica and Goldie. My chicken sandwich arrives, I browse the apps on the iPad. I decide to look at the New York Post app. I read about Taylor Swift’s new Tribeca apartment, it’s causing some controversy with the neighbors. I’m offered a water from the woman who brought my sandwich. It was a warm interaction.

The plane is delayed on the runway for three hours due to snow. We have to wait for the plane to be de-iced.

Sunday, February 18

I’m greeted by the gallery’s driver. He has a print-out of a portrait taken from my Instagram. Meet Jeffrey and Ken at the apartment. We arrange our portraits on the coffee table.

Sade’s “Hang On To Your Love” playing in the cab to República where I didn’t get many photos. Francesco and Magê recommend being discreet with the phone in this area. There are people dressed up like they’re going to Carnival. I thought it ended on Wednesday, but I hear people want to keep celebrating. It can go several days after Carnival officially ends. I see a DJ standing inside a wooden box suspended about six feet off the ground by stilts. The DJ and their equipment is protected by a roof of black trash bags propped up on stilts. It’s raining intermittently. I notice what looks like an Easter parade float with an incredible sound system. There are also small groups of people playing horns. I recognize a rendition of the Pulp Fiction theme song.

We see the Basquiat exhibition at Banco de Brasil, works from the Mugrabi Collection.

Monday, February 19

Trying out a new playlist this morning.

“DDD” by EXID reminds me of “SexyBack” and “Blurred Lines,” two songs I’ve always hated—but somehow, “DDD” makes me like them. I still think Charli XCX is great, especially the production on “I Got It” and “Unlock It.”


Ken, Jeffrey, and I leave the apartment and walk to the gallery for install. We’re staying only a couple blocks away.

Looked at Instagram for the first time in a while. These were funny:

Ken’s toilet paper story originally said, “Too Far,” but I asked for him to send this to me after the story expired, so the text is not included.

We finish installing all of the wall works around 5 p.m. and will come back tomorrow when the pedestals for Ken’s sculptures are ready. Ken says it will only take five minutes to place the sculptures, so we’re basically done.

Tuesday, February 20

Watching a morning talk show with a parrot puppet co-host. The puppet reminds me of a pineapple sculpture by Cristina Tufiño that Jeffrey showed me yesterday. The treatment of the material used for both (the pineapple is low-fire ceramic) resembles CGI. I hear jazz playing from Ken’s room. I’ve been meaning to ask him for some jazz recommendations. I often hear jazz playing in the background of his stories. In 2008, when I first visited Japan, Ken introduced me to Miki Imai’s Ivory. It is still a favorite.

Driving back from Lina Bo Bardi’s Pompéia, I see this sign:

Sade returns.

Ken, Jeffrey, and I visit Paulo Monteiro’s studio. The four of us talk about being dads. Paulo’s new works look like sections of a person’s face, quickly formed with clay, painted a pastel color, then arranged alongside a varying combination of paintings, small pieces of painted wood, or tube-like pastel clay forms.

Over dinner, Magê shows me on her phone that there are 34 Trevors in Brazil.

Wednesday, February 21

Writing this on my phone in the elevator, an art dealer with a 40-year career dealing urban and performance art tells me, “Too much texting. No soul.” Who is he? I later find out he worked with Andy Warhol.

Ken, Jeffrey, and I visit Erika Verzutti’s studio. Erika is preparing for her third show with MISAKO & ROSEN in March. The works are laid out on the floor of her studio, awaiting one more sculptural element to be added to the recessed areas on the painted forms on the ground and will be presented as wall pieces. I notice an especially unusual painting in process on her table. The piece is a slab of concrete with wavy, smooth edges, about 2.5 inches thick. The concrete is painted with what looks like light pink, yellow, and orange circular patterns superimposed over one another in watercolor. Erika tells me that this is the second one she has made, not yet titled.

Thursday, February 22

Don’t have many notes about this day.

I wrote this down for some reason:
(Japanese) “pasaasa pasa” = dry

Aga aga aga aga

Thanks to Matthew Wood and Pedro Mendes for the great party.

I saw a great photograph by Francesca Woodman hanging in Matthew and Pedro’s house. I’d never seen this one before, but it reminded me of my Uncomfortable Tight Jeans photo series.

Working on my playlist after the party. A song by OFFAIAH reminded me of Miss Kittin and the Hacker. Miss Kittin actually holds up once you get past the first two hits, “Life on MTV” and “Frank Sinatra.” We listened to almost all of their first album.

Food Jesus is born. @thefoodjesus

Friday, February 23

Opening at Mendes Wood DM. Gave a walkthrough to a few of the staff. Explained the Late Work series and introduced my new variation on the Late Work, zero gravity nudes. My first solo show at 47 Canal in 2012 was an installation of Late Work paintings. These paintings are all on unstretched canvas or Belgian linen, unsigned and undated. They were supposedly painted in my twilight years, found rolled up in my home after my death. The series is a parody of the older heterosexual male artist, obsessed with the female body. Early iterations of the series place the nude in a landscape, oftentimes tropical, or depicted indoors as a caretaker for the artist. In order to give a sense that these were painted in the distant future, I made the nudes suspended in a zero gravity environment.

Also showing three paintings from a series called Groupies. They’re paintings of Instagram spam accounts that use sexual language and imagery, who followed me then disappeared after a day, like real groupies are said to do. Both series have a sad, voyeuristic quality. I imagine the sad reality of someone who falls for one of these profiles or finds them exciting.

Left the opening early to work on my playlist.

Isadora posts an image from my gallery walkthrough, reminding me of my former life as a nightclub photographer. Before moving to New York in 2002, I was very interested in a musical genre called electroclash. Adult, Le Car, Miss Kittin and the Hacker, WIT, and Fischerspooner, to name a few, were popular artists of the moment. Instead of going to these parties, however, I had to get a job to pay my rent and found myself photographing partygoers at lounges and various nightclubs around Manhattan. I actually really enjoyed the music they played at the clubs. At Pangaea, where I spent the majority of my final year as a party photographer, live saxophones, violins, and/or percussion would accompany trance techno, Kylie Minogue, J.Lo, and Ja Rule, to name a few. I’d sometimes shoot two or three parties a night, beginning at a happy hour in Chelsea, for example, moving to the Upper East Side, then down to the East Village. The clientele varied and I was given the opportunity to photograph some celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Sting, Ice T, and Krysten Ritter.

This looks like a good show:

Ate microwaveable rice and curry packets from a Japanese 7-Eleven for dinner. Watched some music television. There were many videos by artists whose music I loved, but were not identified with title cards. Only the director was credited for a few of the videos, however. I looked him up but forgot to write his name down.

Watched Kappa by Bruce and Norman Yonemoto.

Saturday, February 24

Jeffrey and I visit Pedro Caetano’s studio. His studio is in a former travel agency, downtown, close to where we saw the post-Carnival celebrations. We drink cachaça and eat cashews. He gives me an image of a hamburger printed on fabric. Pedro talks about how most people in his immediate circle—collectors, gallerists, artists—are unfamiliar with Martin Kippenberger and Mike Kelley, two artists he’s influenced by. I’m a little surprised, but Ken also said the same about Japan a couple days ago.

Stop by Magê and Francesco’s apartment before going to the Mamba Negra show. There are nine of us in the apartment and everyone is sitting around drinking, listening to Boston 168. There’s a nice mix of art, a sculpture by Puppies Puppies, painting by Marcelo Cipis, and sculpture by Hayley Silverman. The music is audible through the apartment and inspires the way I view the work in Francesco’s studio. The color field vinyl works, abstract gouache paintings on linen, and the images of a horizontal rose and monochrome mountain range match the techno playing throughout the apartment. I’m usually embarrassed by the music playing in my studio, so I turn it off when people come over. Music during a studio visit is hard to pull off, but this worked really well.


We leave Magê and Francesco’s to see Mamba Negra and Volvox around 1 a.m. We get to an abandoned train depot in an industrial area about 20 minutes away. Mamba Negra reminds me of Gang Gang Dance, but acid house, with a trombone and bongos adding a sort of Miles Davis Bitches Brew feeling. Volvox goes on around 3 a.m and probably continued past 8 a.m., when we decide to leave. The tail end of her set brings me back once again to 2001–2003-era electro. Having missed out on raves in the ’90s, I thought it was pretty incredible watching the sunrise to this.


Sunday, February 25

Slept through most of the day. It worked out well since our flight is at 10 p.m. Got an açaí smoothie. Saved Jeffrey from stepping into a pile of human shit. Found a really good Italian restaurant to have dinner.

Special thanks to Magê Abàtayguara, Francesco João, everyone at Mendes Wood DM, MISAKO & ROSEN, Ken Kagami, my family.


Food Jesus has evolved per the suggestion of a friend; Food Jesus can share in the sacrifice of all; if you have a meal situation that requires Food Jesus’s help you can share your photo with the Food Jesus account . . . so, a couple of images now are actually of my friend’s food that she needed Food Jesus to eat but I was not around with her at the time so I ate them symbolically by posting the images to the Food Jesus account. If you or your friends find themselves in need of Food Jesus they can absolve themselves of their sin of waste by sending the image to Food Jesus which I will post as an absolution.

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