Sunday, April 26, 2009
I was recently commissioned by my friend Rick Griffith www.matterstudio.com to make several bunny illustrations for an event he is participating in at the Denver Art Museum www.denverartmuseum.org. The event coincides with an exhibit of psychedelic posters from the 60's and is called Untitled #20 [Trip]. I am thrilled to be part of this project. Go to both of the highlighted websites in this posting and spend a while browsing through each. Matter Studio is awesome. Check out their archives, the Democratic National Conventon stuff and their store. and the DAM ain't too shabby neither. I'll be posting colorized versions of these trippy little rabbits soon. The day of the event falls between the day Albert Hoffman dropped acid for the first time or what's become Bicycle Day and the day he departed this world.
The top 5 images are a couple of the bunnies that didn't make the grade and the originals that were hand tinted for a show at Niagara Bar in the East Village. Sold a bunny that night.
As the weather warms up, the clothes come off. Everyone's thoughts are on going to the beach and what's underneath all those winter layers. It's also oil spill season and soon beaches all around the globe will be coated with thick gooey stanky black crude oil from wrecked tankers.
This painting is a modified sunset I found at a thrift store back in 2002.
It's almost May and the weather in NYC is warming up. Time to start riding my bike again. I have passed the 6 month waiting period the doctor recommended I avoid riding my bicycle. Tomorrow I pick the bike up from the shop where it's getting a tune up. I plan on riding for a couple hours around the city. The accident in October besides breaking my jaw and my skull, messed up my from wheel and the brakes. This little painting is a pseudo-self portrait.
A while back I got one of those chain letters on facebook. Normally I pass on such letters as generally they are some kind of weird 17 magazine style personality quiz. When I was bed-ridden for 3 weeks after my bicycle accident I would be all over stuff like that but this time around I passed. The letter sat there for a few days and then I saw a few of my friends responses to the initial letter posted on my home page. What caught my attention this time was the subject matter.
As I dismissed the letter quickly as just another "fill in the blanks about me me me" survey, I did not notice it was more than that.
I don't know where this letter originated but my friend Kevin forwarded it to me and a couple dozen other friends of his. The jist of the letter is that the fist 5 people who respond to the letter get something made especially for them by the sender on condition that they in turn pass the letter on to another couple dozen people with the same directions. Make 5 things for the first 5 people. Making something could be a silk screened t-shirt, chocolate chip cookies, knitted scarf...no limits as long as it's made by hand for the person who replies. Can't be something laying in the bottom of the sock drawer.
I gave in and posted my own letter to 25 people. The response was almost instant. There were a couple instances where multiple responses came really close to each other so I ended up making 8 paintings for the respondees as well as one for Kevin who sent me the letter in the first place.
These illustrations that I made fit the personality of each of the people who are getting them. The technique I used for these has been something I've been working with for a while and really like the results. On bristol board I use soft pencil, india ink, brush and quill for the initial drawing. I then add acrylic paint in a similar manner as watercolor. When I scan them the results to me look even better than the original. This was a fun project and I'm glad I finally answered the letter.
The subjects are as varied as the people for whom the paintings were made. I have the greatest friends in the world. I made portraits of the Starland Vocal Band, David Lynch, Ira Glass from This American Life, Yoda smoking a doobie and Spinal Tap. I also made some tattoo flash inspired pieces : an octopus, a pug dog and a seahorse. Finally I made an illustration that I personally like the best of all of the lot and that is a monkey wearing a Pac Man shirt contemplating throwing some poo.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
My friend Meghan commissioned me to make a painting of the Boo. The Boo is a sweet Boston Terrier Pit Bull mix. She has a very cute face and was a pleasure to paint.
I visited Portland OR while on my trip to the Pacific Northwest. My friend Dave Smith has a nice little collection of my work in his recording studio. A couple metal TV trays with pinup girls and a smoking Jesus painting brighten up the basement studio. The pinups I made from classic 1960's photos. They are acrylic and enamel on metal trays. The smoking Jesus is another one of my mutated religious print adaptations. The way JC was posed in this Sacred Heart image lent itself perfectly to placing a bong and a lighter in his mitts.
This set of 3 little paintings was from a show at the Black Lab gallery in Seattle Wa. Brenda Scallon, one of the gallery owners and a good friend bought them. She has them in her house along with dozens of art from various people who showed work at the Black Lab over the years.
They are painted on little 8x6 inch boards in plastic gold ornate frames. I found the frames at Archie McPhee in Ballard.
Brenda is an accomplished musician. You can hear her music by going to www.myspace.com/daughtersofjoyyeah
This painting has a great back story. My friend Lucy gifted me several large canvases before she left Seattle in 2001. I created my 'It's All Crap' painting on this massive 3 by 8 foot mural sized canvas. It depicts the traffic congestion Seattle began to deal with in 2000 after initiative I-695 passed. Check out the story on this initiative. It basically killed all funding for public transportation and development of bike friendly roads and paths in the Washington state. It increased the automobile congestion incredibly and to this day the roads have become exponentially more clogged.
The viewpoint of this painting is looking west towards the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, Downtown Seattle, Queen Anne Hill, Fremont and Seattle Center from just above the center of the ship canal bridge on I-5.
There was an incident that gathered national attention that year when a young woman leapt of the bridge on I-5 that spans the ship canal in Seattle. This incident blocked traffic for hours as she threatened to jump over the railing. People tired of waiting for her to decide whether or not to take the plunge began chanting for her to jump just to get it over with so traffic could resume. There was also a school bus shooting and of course the ever growing mass of crap that began taking over the city once known for a strong anti-consumerist attitude.
This painting was shown at the Peoples Pub, Habitude Hair Salon, Aurifice Internet Cafe, The Ballard Firehouse music venue and the Black Lab Gallery over the course of a year. I moved my studio to Capitol Hill from Ballard in 2002. I had to move my oversized paintings strapped with duct tape on the roof of my Honda Accord in the rain. I leaned the large paintings against the wall at the doorway of my new studio building as I looked for a place to park. Upon returning 4 of the pieces were missing. This was before I knew about Craigslist so I used the Stranger personals to put out a notice about the missing art. No replys so I just accepted the loss.
In 2008 I got a call from my good friend Sage in Seattle. I had moved to NYC at this point. Sage had just moved into a group house south of Captitol Hill and was excited to let me know there were two of my paintings displayed in the living room. I was both delighted and somewhat disturbed by this news. My main concern was not to spook the tenant of the house who 'found' the art and have him run off suddenly taking the paintings with him.
I advised Sage to use his words carefully when approaching the room-mate in question. I suggested not being accusitory and simple let the guy explain how he acquired the art while informing him that I wanted to get the paintings back. I was willing to pay the full cost of shipping and even offered a more than reasonable price should he want to keep them.
Sage's room-mate flipped out unfortunately. Guess he had some unresolved guilt issues. Too bad because I didn't want to accuse anyone of theft. I accepted his story of how he assumed the art abandoned and figured he was rescuing them from a fate at the city dump. This is an explanation I can live with but the fact remains, however they were acquired they were still my paintiings and had not been paid for and were not gifted so I wanted them back.
Trouble brewed in the household and things were tense for several weeks as this guy and Sage were at odds because of the misunderstanding about the art situation. Sage ended up staying in the house and the other guy left. The paintings also stayed. When I visited Sage in Seattle this March I got to take some great photos. The paintings are way too big to have returned to NYC, at least on this last trip. I'll figure out a way to freight them back east eventually. For the time being they are in safe hands and have a good home.
Sage is an amazing human being and a great friend. He is an extremely performer, comedian, puppeteer, magician, clown, stiltwalker, drummer and all around cool dude. You can see his stuff at www.myspace.com/thepettingzooplayers and www.stiltangel.blogspot.com.
I made this painting for my daughter Jenneve's 10th birthday. She calls her band Jenny Jet. I got a chance to visit Seattle at the end of March and was able to give it to Jenneve in person. Best part was, she had no idea I was coming to town. She's quite the artist herself.