Wants, Needs: Halloween, Alaska

(Images above: Some FroYo, a Tulip Chair, a Good Meal for NYC Food Bank, and a Wig for Locks of Love taken from Wants/NeedsForSale.com)

We all want something. In fact, we probably want a lot of things. I can’t get through a day without saying, ‘I want that,’ or, ‘I have to have this.’ Clothes, food, music, books – everything and anything can be part of a day’s desire. Maybe it’s because we’re used to thinking about our world in terms of consumption, maybe it’s about the security associated with the accumulation of stuff, or maybe it’s because I really, truly have to have a super hot flat screen TV, but wanting is part of our lives. New York artists and lovebirds Justin Gignac and Christine Santora recognized this phenomenon of our culture, and wanted to express it through their work. Thus, the Wants for Sale project was born.

Armed with some basic colors, white canvases, and an iconic illustration style, the couple took to painting their everyday (mainly material) wants. Each painting depicts something they desire, and they charge exactly what that item costs for the painting. For example, if they want 100 more chicken wings from Pluck U, they paint a plate of Buffalo wings and charge $62.95 for it (the exact cost of 100 wings as Pluck U). How about a tulip chair for their apartment? They paint it, charge $227.58, and when they sell it, they buy themselves a tulip chair for $227.58. Some of my favorites are ‘A Little Shopping Trip in SoHo’ priced at $2,500, and a new bikini  for Christine at $74.95. Pretty cool. Oh, and if there’s something you want, Justin and Christine will paint it for you.

Seeking to do some good with this amazing concept, the artistic duo expanded their project to include the altruistic sister site Needs for Sale. Each painting in the Needs for Sale collection represents a ‘need’ of a deserving charity that Justin and Christine cannot afford to fulfill themselves. A painting of Mr. Potato Head for $250 supports Toys for Tots, an image of a toilet for $100 helps Habitat for Humanity, and a NY Cares Coat Drive is funded by a representation of a winter jacket for $150. All proceeds from Needs for Sale paintings go to the designated charities. When you buy this artwork, you’re not only getting an ultra-mod wall hanging – you’re also getting a ton of good karma.


What’s Halloween, Alaska? Keep reading!

Listen to This: Halloween, Alaska

I’m usually a bit of an atavist in my musical taste; I prefer to listen to my Led Zeppelin and Neil Young records that I’ve stolen from my parents’ collection to what seems to me the daunting task of trying to find the latest awesome band. But with Halloween, Alaska, a Minnesota group that I’ve been following since their self-titled debut album in 2005, I feel like I’m ahead of the curve for once. I was hooked when I fell in love with a song from that album, ” Four Corners,” which is exactly what I would listen to if I had just had my heart broken and I was driving west to start a new life while simultaneously watching the sun set ahead of me. The rest of their songs are perhaps not so bizarrely evocative of an imaginary moment, but they’re just as good.

Their music definitely has a lot of electronic elements, with lots of sonic layering and the occassional 80s synth sound, but they also have James Diers as lead vocalist, and he has a soothing and distinct voice that humanizes even the most robotic beat. It’s this industrial, but ethereal sound, as well as James’ voice, that make Halloween, Alaska really unique. They’ve also been praised for their clever lyricism. The lines are often strange (“Listen up lovely and hear what the evening sees in you: lilacs and landmines”) but I like a little esotericism now and again!

They just released their new album, Champagne Downtown, on April 7th, and I like it so far. I especially like “The Ends,” which has a boppy Hall and Oates quality to it. While checking out their website, I discovered that I would be able to see them not once, but twice in both Pittsburgh and New York. You can imagine my excitement, since most of my favorite bands are no longer touring. (Oh to see Queen…)

I can listen to their songs over and over again and maybe that’s because they have such diverse musical influences  (they’ve covered both Bruce Springsteen and LL Cool J). From what I can gather from this YouTube video, they also seem so nice and down-to-earth (and endearingly nerdy). Halloween, Alaska may not be a real town, but they are a real band, and that’s almost as good if you’re looking for a little escape.



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  1. Avatar
    Hilary 04/17/2009 at 4:26 am #

    Wow, I love the idea of Needs for Sale. Very clever couple indeed.

  2. Avatar
    Jaclyn 04/17/2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Needs for sale is awesome =)

  3. Avatar
    Shelby 04/20/2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Needs For Sale is a good idea, but they should leave it only to that, I wouldn’t buy a painting from them for their selfish needs.

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