So many celebrities nowadays lead separate lives dabbling in artistic areas they may not be known for. Sometimes they completely miss the mark with their added venture (such as...Madonna trying to write books for kids) but other times they're so good that we have a hard time remembering which career came first (Zooey Deschanel, anyone?). Most of these names will be very familiar but hopefully there will be some in here who's alternate artistic project surprises you.
James Franco is known for dabbling in everything, with countless projects going on at once. We wouldn't be surprised if next year he popped up with a restaurant franchise to add to his list of films, soap opera work, being a student and teaching, album recording, book remaking, et cetera. Art has been in his life since high school, having been an outlet for him as a teenager, and he's made it into yet another career move. His first exhibit was at the Glu Gallery in Los Angeles in 2006, a Basquiat-esque show that presented large, mixed-media works that blended pop art with a more refined interpretation. His latest show in LA was at the Museum of Contemporary Art (definitely a venue step-up) in May, titled "Rebel," an homage to "Rebel Without a Cause" and actor James Dean (who Franco played in a TV biopic in 2001). The art show had many drawings, mixed-media works, and a even giant rocket ship. Photo Courtesy of MOCA
Better known for being Spock, the infamous Leonard Nimoy has some serious photographic skill you may not be aware of. His love for photography started in his teens, causing him to study art at UCLA in the early 1970s and later get a "artist in residence" gig in Rome. With photography books and his work showing all over the place, from The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston to The LA County Museum of Art, "Star Trek" may have actually been the real hobby all along. His themes include uncovering the secret identities within each of us, the beauty and sexuality within full bodies, the feminine essence of God, and power within withholding eye contact. The majority of his work focuses on women and their inherent strength. Photo Courtesy of R. Michelson Gallery
I feel safe assuming that nearly everyone knows of Ryan Gosling. With his fantastic acting talent, stellar good looks, and penchant for saving people (apparently just dart in New York traffic and he'll appear), Gosling is pretty much a household name. What you may not know though is that he's also a pretty good musician. We know you're probably scoffing but it's true. His band Dead Man's Bones produces moody, catchy tunes that would raise Bella Lugosi from the grave. I especially love how they use a children's choir to impart an eerie beauty to the tracks.
HBo's new show "Girls" was this year's standout program, portraying one of the most realistic examples of womanhood to grace our television screens (although there is no way an unpaid, struggling writer can live in New York without a real job). Jemima Kirke is known as the whimsical Brit Jessa who manages to pull off the oddest of outfits and behavior, making you question why you can't. With a hit show to her name, Kirke is also a really talented painter. I was shocked to discover her portraiture work and think you will be too. She actually studied painting, getting her BFA in 2008 from the Rhode Island School of Design, and often focuses on the moments between the artist and subject, holding voyeurism accountable for great art. She has had solo exhibitions in 2006 and 2011, both in her home of New York, and has participated in various group shows. Photo Courtesy of Jemima Kirke
Certainly the most well-known dual artist today, Zooey Deschanel is equally known as an actress and singer. She got her start with small roles in TV and film, like her role as Anita Miller in "Almost Famous," and eventually starred in indie film "All the Real Girls," which got her a lot of critical appraise and attention. In 2007 she appeared on Coconut Records tracks and paired up with singer/songwriter M. Ward to create She and Him. They have released three records since and have become the go-to music for nostalgic, bright-eyed youth. Photo Courtesy of She and Him
Also worth mentioning is her friendship with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has been singing a lot lately. You can find him recording his version of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" with Deschanel, performing a great rendition of "Hey Jude" at the Sundance Film Festival, or singing at events put on by his company hitRECord.
Photo Courtesy of hitRECord
Many of you may know of Eddie Izzard as an amazing stand-up comedian (John Cleese once called him the "Lost Python), or maybe you just know of him as that guy who sometimes wears makeup, but Izzard is also an accomplished dramatic actor who has appeared in more stage plays and films (over forty!) than you would think. One of his first film roles was in the cult classic "Velvet Goldmine" (alongside Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale) and was even in popular films like "Ocean's Twelve" and "Valkyrie." This talented man has lately been known for his marathon running, where in 2009 he ran 43 marathons in 51 days. Many of his Twitter followers were subjected to pictures of his swollen feet during that time, me included. Photo Courtesy of Eddie Izzard
Crispin Glover may be better known to some as George McFly from "Back to the Future" (the first one mind you because we all know the shifty replacement methods utilized in the second film) and as the weird guy who screams in a number of blockbusters. However, Glover has an entire underground art movement he's been helming for years, his books and personal film projects at the center. As a writer, Glover takes preexisting old books that have long fallen into public domain and twists them around, creating a mixed-media collage. He blocks out text and adds his own, sketches out images, rearranges pages, adds in eerie photography, and creates a new (often strange and seemingly incoherent) story from the old. His books, including "Rat Catching," "Oak Mot," and "Concrete Inspection," can be purchased from his self-made publishing company Volcanic Eruptions. Glovers tours the world with his Big Slide Show presentation, showing his films, reading from his books, and giving Q&A's. His films ("What Is It?" and "It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine!") are surreal glimpses at his uncompromising vision, easily compared to the work of Luis Buñuel. Photo Courtesy of Gareth Cattermole | Image.net
Depending on when you were born you'll know Dennis Hopper from different projects of his. Whether you first think of him on a bike in Easy Rider or threatening Mario and Luigi in Super Mario Bros. (yes, that happened and Bob Hoskins was a part of it). He had a huge career in his lifetime but some may not know what an amazing artist he was. He was a photographer, painter, and sculptor, with much of his work reflecting his surroundings. Many other iconic figures feature in his work, such as Paul Newman and Brigitte Bardot, giving a rare look at the personal lives of Hollywood stars. In July 2010 MOCA ran an exhibit spanning his life's work, featuring sculptures and mixed-media artworks. Unfortunately, Hopper passed away due to cancer two months before the exhibit opened, which made it all the more poignant.
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