Friday, May 29, 2015

Stations of the CRⒶSS

CrⒶss: Gee Vaucher, Eve Libertine, Steve Ignorant, Penny Rimbaud
oil on (found) canvas, 24" x 32", 2015
Stations of the CRⒶSS is a record that was on top of my want list until right before last year's end (at Christmas) when I got a copy. The jacket folds out to a poster which is an art work by Gee Vaucher, while the back of the poster contains lyrics, more graphics, and the outer sleeve. My favorite (of the graphics) is the page with the juxtaposition of the iconic J.A.D. Ingres painting La Piccola Bagnante (1828, a naked woman seen from the back) with a no less iconic workof another naked back—a 1945 photograph of a Hiroshima burn victim. The song the painting illustrates is Do They Owe Us a Living. The source for the painting is a recent photograph of four Crass members, it was published by The Guardian in 2009, twenty-five years after their last concert. The background is a found painting that, despite my intentions not to modify, were stripped of a bunch of trees. (What would Crass think of this voluntary act of deforestation.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Bass of The Fall

Steve Hanley of the Fall
drawing on found paper, 8" x 10", 2015
I recently bought the Fall compilation LP The Domesday Pay-off Triad Plus! at Joe's Record Exchange (the only decent record store here in Fort Myers). It has some tracks from their 1986 LP Bent Sinister on it as well as some singles from 86 and 87. It's not considered one of their best but it's been on my turntable numerous times regardless and half the songs made it into the top 100 2015 list already. Odd choice perhaps to pick Steve Hanley (the bass player) for the illustration, but there's plenty opportunities left to paint their leader Mark E. Smith. Besides, Hanley, a long serving band member, was important in the establishment of the Fall sound. The choice for Hanley is not the only odd thing about the illustration. (That I will not discuss here except that it was hard to capture Hanley's portrait—it took me hours.) The Fall in 1987, when the album was released, consisted besides Hanley and Mark E. Smith of Craig Scanlon, Brix Smith (mark's wife), Simon Wolstencroft, Simon Rogers, and Marcia Schofield. Production was by John Leckie and it was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London. The Fall are from Manchester.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Beastie Boys

Adam Horovitz
oil on canvas paper, 16" x 12", 2015
Just picked up a second Beastie Boys cd filled with marvelous instrumental jams. The band was already dominating the 2015 top 100 list by way of the cd Ill Communication (1994) that I picked up in the beginning of the year for twenty cents, and the ($1) purchase of The In Sound from Way Out! (1996) will further establish the Beastie Boys in this year's list. And it's due time as the band didn't appear since 1987, when they had a couple of hits in the Netherlands (Fight for Your Right and No Sleep 'till Brooklyn). The In Sound from Way Out borrows its title (and graphics) from Perrey and Kingsley, pioneers in synthesizer music. It features a tribute to Groove Holmes, Tibetan chanting, and tons of funky riffs.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Andy Warhol

The Velvet Underground
20" x 24", oil on canvas, 2015
The generation that are now freshmen in college never heard of the Velvet Underground. This is about to change, at least concerning those freshmen that attend FSW and select Art Appreciation as an elective. I personally make sure that those students attending know about, if not appreciate, this part of the history of rock music. There are about 60 of them each semester, and when pop art is discussed the Andy Warhol hook is used to introduced the Velvet Underground. The video clip selected last semester was one recorded by Andy Warhol in the Factory. I'm Waiting for the Man is one of Velvet's most memorable songs. I used it in class to talk about the work ethic that existed within the confines of the Factory, and that (especially) Lou Reed composed songs all day. (In class I don't shy away from talking about New York City night life and the drug references that come with it either.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Viet Nam

Calebass-Khene, Highland People, Central Vietnam
oil on wood, 16" x 16", 2015
The khene is a southeast Asian mouth organ made of bamboo whose origin dates back to the bronze age (c. 2,100 BCE-900 BCE). It is of Lao origin invented, as myth has it, to mimic the sound of the garawek bird. I was introduced to the khene by way of the cd series The Secret Museum of Mankind compiled by Pat Conte. On the third volume Conte included the track Soutsanaeh which made it into the top 100 of 1999. The top 100 series are, above anything else, a record of the music acquired in a given year. One of the top finds thus far in 2015 is the record Introduction to the Music of Viet Nam selected by Pham Duy for the Folkways label in 1965. The record is divided into pre-Vietnamese and Vietnamese music, the former "a name given to all the music of ethnic minorities living on the Indochinese peninsula before the politcal formation of Viet Nam proper. This music, of a purely popular character, still conserves archaic traits in spite of the passage of time" (liner notes, Folkways). The Vietnamese khene is different from the Laotian in that the tradition hardwood reservoir is replaced by a gourd (calebasse).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mariko Gotō (Midori)
oil on canvas, 30" x 40", 2015
No better way to get into a fresh round of paintings than to produce a big one with vivid colors. Mariko Gotō, singer of the Japanese jazz/punk band Midori, provided the perfect expressionist pose, and a modernist/abstract thrift store painting the perfect backdrop. Welcome back everybody (sorry for the wait).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Student Work

Courtney Fisher, Abner Jay
xerox transfer and frottage on paper, 11" x 8.5", 2015
Three more Art Appreciation classes did end last week. Besides learning about the the different disciplines and all of art history, students also worked on art projects in their sketchbooks. They also made zines and prints that were traded with other students and I received mail art through the US Postal Service in the mail. The most exciting work however (from the vantage point of contemporary art) came from two sketchbook assignments dedicated to transfers and surrealist techniques. These assignments were introduced through demos and in-class time dedicated to experimentation. To demonstrate xerox transfers I had brought in a folder from my Top 100 archive consisting of source materials for paintings. I rewarded the best works with extra credit points. A student named Courtney Fisher received the highest reward for a series of reworked transfers from photocopies. Every semester a few students (who are by the way no art majors) really show a knack for visual creativity, get really into the making, and go far beyond the easy and obvious. In Courtney Fisher's visual work, the transfers and other in other assignments as well, she displayed a cohesiveness of vision that was not in any way dictated by thought. Just her tools, materials, and doing. Without putting too many consequences on my experiences teaching non art students into my own visions, ideas, and attitudes towards art, it does kind of bring me back to a base sense of creating visual work. The essence of art is to be found in materialism (as opposed to concepts, ideas, and ideals). The image above depicts the blues musician Abner Jay (performing together with a little girl—his daughter?) that I used for a painting in 2013.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bun Bun

oil on canvas board, 9" x 12", 2015

David Letterman calls it quits on May 20th. His late show included guests like Captain Beefheart and M.I.A. The M.I.A. performance of Born Free from her Maya album at Letterman's Late Show in 2010 ranks among the most exciting live performances I've ever seen. It's not often I would consider a musical performance as art but this one sure is. M.I.A. is seen performing with two musicians and a dozen dancers, clones of herself, in what seems an unrehearsed, not choreographed rendition of Born Free that borders on anarchy. Alan Vega and Martin Rev composed the riff the song samples (Ghost Rider, 1977), and should be proud of what became of it. The name of the Bunny in the painting is Bun Bun, I found her (the painting) in a thrift store.

note: just after I wrote the above text I watched a youtube video of suicide performing ghost rider in 1977 and i thought that martin rev looked a lot like the keyboard player on letterman's late show 33 years later it didn't take me long to figure out that it actually was martin rev performing with m.i.a.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Top 100 2015

The Beastie Boys
16" x 12", oil on canvas, 2015
Yes, the Beastie Boys, they are starting off a brand new top 100 edition. If the first two months are any indication to what the music year 2015 has coming, then it's a shift away from female singers' dominance towards a more equal distribution. After a decade of painting Kathleen Hanna, I now, for the first time, portrayed her husband Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. He's situated in the middle flanked by Michael "Mike-D" Diamond and Adam "MCA" Yauch. The CD Ill Communication, bought for 20 cents at a thrift store, has provided many hours of rocking out while driving. Three songs are already guaranteed a spot in the new list, of which the biggest hit from the album, Sabotage, is one.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Break!

Azealia Banks
8" x 7.5", stencil print
ed. 75 on paper, 2015
It's spring break, and that means beach, studio, and taxes. Midterms are wrapped up and graded, and the customary stencil prints have been traded. The stencil print is becoming a tradition, and now in my fourth semester at FSW, I have collected, by trade, over two hundred original prints made by students of the art appreciation class. My fourth stencil design, printed in an edition of 75, is once more depicting the portrait of a popular musician. I chose to do Azealia Banks, thinking that she would be popular by the students. I did not nearly get the response like last semester, when Jay Z was a big hit, only two students showed any interest in Miss Bank$. Yet she represents a fast-rapping sub-genre of hip-hop that is rapidly gaining popularity. When I heard Lady LeShurr, the British/Caribbean rapster, perhaps in a tradition of Jamaican Dancehall, rap in a style similar to that of Banks a couple of years ago, I thought it was the greatest new development in popular music.