Monday, May 26, 2008
In May 1996 I painted a mural at the Laundry Room Recording Studio. The studio was in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. The studio, owned and operated by my friend Barrett Jones is now in South Seattle as Greenwood has become built up with condos and Starbucks.
It started out as me painting a refrigerator. The front of the fridge was a big fat green buddha being served a hot pizza from a space alien. On the side was a busty green Kali dancing with cigarettes, booze and other vices. The Kali, Buddha and UFO were painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. All around the fridge I wrote the lyrics to 'If Six Were Nine' by Jimi Hendrix. Again, painted in invisible glow-in-the-dark paint, the letters were only visible when the lights were off.
Over the next month I continued to paint the entire studio, floor to ceiling...and then the ceiling.
The front office had a Pacific northwest, woodsy, motif. On the north wall was a Cascade mountain range with dancing Northern Lights above the snow capped peaks. There was a doobie puffing Sasquatch that resembled Homer Simpson inner tubing down a creek. In the corner was a little bug-eyed alien wandering through the woods and his UFO was parked in the shady pines. They both glowed in the dark. On the eastern wall was a full sized log cabin that incorporated the actual door into the engineering room as part of the trompe l'oeil mural.
In the cabin window a green Elvis Presley watched Jimi Hendrix play his burning guitar on the TV while another bug-eyed alien looked over his shoulder. They day after I painted the window scene there was a yard sale across from my house and there was an old window that fit perfectly around the Hendrix painting.
On the south facing wall a busty angel, monkey and smoke breathing dragon frolicked in a waterfall passing around a smoking apple. There was a lot of not so subtle marijuana imagery on the walls. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!
In the back room where the fridge was I painted a massive snow topped Mount Rainier with a family of aliens flying in their saucer on vacation, alien kids sporting Mouseketeer ears. Barrett had a great green pot leaf neon that fit perfectly on the face of the mountain. On the interior wall I painted the back of the cabin with Robert Johnson picking his guitar. On the north wall was a heating duct that ran from floor to ceiling that became a tree trunk. The leafy branches of the tree spread up and out across the wall and ceiling. Beneath the tree sat Yoda and Christopher Walken, peacefully passing a glass pipe back and forth. Star Wars 20th Anniversary was coming up and I had serious Yoda on the brain. Barrett had just finished recording the soundtrack music for Touch, the Paul Schrader film. Christopher Walken was in the film and we all were fans of Walken so in fitting tribute he made it to the mural.
While the mural was being made bands were either rehearsing, jamming or recording. The energy from the live music added some serious punch to the painting. I always love painting rhythmically while music is in the background but what a treat to get to paint while musicians like Pilot, the Chauffer, Churn, Shawn Smith & the Foo Fighters were rocking out.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Last weekend Mika, Nilda, Nichole and I made the pilgrimage to beautiful Beacon NY for the big Electric Windows event. 24 artists made paintings to go in the windows in an old electric blanket factory off Main Street. The event took place over 3 days with most of the artists painting live on the street Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Although my work was not part of this event, I think so highly of Open Space Gallery and have really fallen in love with the community in Beacon that I am compelled to add my images to the pot. You can see more from the show by going to www.electricwindowsbeacon.com.
Monday, May 19, 2008
this is a little selection of some of the sign work and design work I've done for clients. That would be people who paid me or bartered their services for my art.
From top to bottom:
Peoples Pub: Ballard's best meeting place and late night nosh. World famous for proper drink prices, fine German food and Fried Pickles. This eye catching sign gets you coming or going with a happy cuke saying 'Bitte' on one side and 'Danke' on the other.
Around Town: This was a little homegrown events calendar. An awesome idea for a portable schedule of movies, concerts, sports and night life that just never quite caught on. I designed the logo and lettering.
Joshua Billings Experienced Carpenter: A business card with a logo and letters that I designed. Pretty much says all there is to say on the card.
Fantastic Plastic: A cool little record/CD shop in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. I hand lettered the window sign and designed the logo. When I applied the one shot paint it was about 30 degrees outside. I could barely hold the brush. Luckily the owner, Bill kept a full keg of home brewed beer in the back of the shop. That at least made the chill bearable.
VAIN hair salon: This hand-lettered sandwich board was made for VAIN hair salon when it was still on 2nd Avenue. The letters were designed freehand, no computers or stencils. I did quite a bit of painting for Victoria, the owner of VAIN in the first couple years of the shops existence. There will be more photos of murals from VAIN in an upcoming entry.
The Starving Artist: Another quality hand-lettered sign for a little used art supply shop in Ballard, Seattle. The Starving Artist was on the ground floor of the Sunset Hotel which burned down in 2000. The building was fully rebuilt in 2005 and now houses several upscale designer boutiques and overpriced artists 'lofts'.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This painting was made on a canvas that was the twin to the Hattie's Hat painting in the previous post. This was my best appraisal of the growing traffic problem Seattle was facing. Made during the summer, fall and winter of 2001 this over-sized work was how I saw what was once beautiful livable city turned into a parking lot over-run by greed and consumerism. The perspective is from the middle of the Washington Bridge that spans the Lake Union mouth of the Ship Canal to Lake Washington. The viewer has a panoramic view of Seattle sweeping from downtown on the left towards Fremont on the right. Directly ahead would be Queen Anne Hill and beyond that the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range. Since 2001 the actual traffic situation has begun to resemble this painting more and more. So much that moving to NY so living without a car for a while would be a possibility.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Hattie's Hat is a Seattle watering hole with a long sordid history. An old Ballard sailor bar, Hattie's has quite the history and hauntings to deserve its place in the historic register. I had the fortune to work there for just over a year right after the turn of the millenium. At that time, Hattie's was a haven for artists and musicians to connect with like minded spirits. Now it's sadly become a shadow of it's former self as the owners have been blinded by greed and lost sight of what made it such a cool place to get wasted and waste time in the first place. This mini 3' x 8' mural was created in the summer of 2001 to commemorate the best parts of the 'Hat'.
Monday, May 12, 2008
It's almost been 3 years since I closed the doors to my cafe in Seattle: STUFF Cafe & Collectibles.
STUFF was ahead of its time, big time. For those of you who don't know about it, STUFF was a collectible shop that specialized in mid-late 20th century pop culture, kitsch and just plain weird shit. STUFF offered the finest espresso, pizza, soup and desserts. There was live music 5 days a week. I could make an entire blog on the cafe alone. I have enough pictures to keep a daily blog into the next decade. I wanted to include the cafe on my art blog because it was an interactive art installation as well as a business. I featured locally made art, clothing and jewelry as well as gallery style shows. The design of the cafe itself was a 3D version of my paintings. The images are from a Japanese magazine called Lightning. I have to dig around for the English translation.
A posthumous blog for STUFF will be a reality soon.
I made this painting of a pipe smoking, single string banjo pluckin' cyclops turtle on a turtle shell for my friend Hank Nolte Holte. He gave me the shell to paint as part of the trade for electrical work.
Hank hooked me up with most of the electrical work at my cafe in Seattle.
He also gave me a couple hundred old blues and classic rock LPs. The shell came with me to New York. I've tried to get a hold of Hank to send him his shell and the phone numbers I got for him
are no good. If you're out there, Hank and somehow find your way to this site, the shell is safe until it gets in your hands.