Monday, February 13, 2017

A MUSHROOM VEDANTA

María Sabina
Oil on canvas paper, 16 x 12 inches, 2017
More ethnopoetics from Ubuweb: María Sabina is a Mexican Mazatec healer, a shaman, who became a notoriety because of a visit by American ethnomycologist Gordon Wasson who published his experiences in Life magazine in 1956. In the 1960s scores of Westerners flocked to the little village where Sabina was practicing a healing ritual that included the use of magic mushrooms. Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Keith Richards are believed among those seeking audition. Wasson recorded Sabina during one of those nightlong ceremonies in 1956 in the Oaxaca province. Recordings appeared on the Folkways label the following year. The 8:06 minute Mushroom Chant that appears on Ubuweb was made during these sessions.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ethnopoetics

Sainkho Namtchylak
16 x 12 inches, oil on canvas paper, 2017
The already heavily mined website Ubuweb.com yet yields another hitherto unexplored nook of most exciting sound recordings. Ethnopoetics is the name of the nook. I had found the music of Sainkho Namtchylak once before, about fifteen years ago when I was looking into Tuvan throat singing, but my ears apparently weren't ready yet. Ms. Namtchylak was born in Tuva but grew up in Moscow. She learned traditional Tuvan vocal styles together with Western avant-garde techniques of composition including the use of overtone singing.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier (signed by Alvin Lucier)
15 x 7.5 inches, stencil, 2017
Another great night at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery as the New York duo String Noise performed works written for them by the composer Alvin Lucier. I was sitting next to a student who happens to be an accomplished violin player in her own right, who gave me interesting anecdotes about how the works were performed. The composer was present, and he's quite the cult hero. People in the audience brought with them records from the 1960s to have them signed by Mr. Lucier. I had never even seen a record by Alvin Lucier. Anyway, for my twice-yearly stencil print project that I do with my art appreciation class, I used the opportunity to portray Alvin Lucier. I got them done in the nick of time so I could have him sign the print. Obviously I gave him a copy too, and so did I to the String Noise duo. I think it worked out alright. Below is a sketch I made of Mr. Lucier when he answered questions from the audience after the performance.
Alvin Lucier, Pencil on paper, 8 x 7 inches, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

CARMINA BURANA

René Clemencic
14 x 9 inches, oil on wood, 2017
The Clemencic Consort led by the Czech René Clemencic is one of the premier ensembles to record medieval music. Last year I had been searching numerous times for recordings of the Carmina Burana, and every time the best results were the recordings by this consort. The Top 100 of 2015/16 features the opening track Bacche, bene venies from the Carmina Burana CD of the Clemencic Consort of 1992. René Clemencic is at 88 still active, on his biography site his address, telephone, and fax are listed. So if you ever in Vienna....

Monday, January 23, 2017

More Record Cover Selfies

Self Portrait. All images: 11.5" x 8.5", pen on paper, 2017

Blondie – Autoamerican
Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music

Music of Yugoslavia from Bosnia

Callas at La Scala

John Fahey – Yes! Jesus Loves Me

Carlos Gardel – Anclao en Paris

Tamboreras con Sylvia de Grasse

Nico – Chelsea Girls

The Ramones

Sonny & Cher – In Case You're in Love

Sinead O'Connor – The Lion and the Cobra

Zaïre: Musique des Salampasu


Deport Yourself

Deport Yourself
24 x 48 inches, mixed media on canvas, 2017
Deport Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) is a poem by the Fort Myers poet Joe Pacheco. The timing seems appropriate to produce a politically inspired painting based on a politically inspired poem written well before the elections. The painting is part of the Alliance's Art Poems 2017 project. The poem is a rendition of the well known song Enjoy Yourself first recorded by Guy Lombardo. A score of top 100 stencils are used on the 2 x 4 ft. painting: M.I.A., Cat Power, Waka Flocka, a/o.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wrapping Up (in a giant hamster ball)

Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
20 x 24 inches, oil on canvas, 2017
The new Top 100 has already started but a few entries from the last are still missing. Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips was the highest without a painting. The song is at #3 in the Top 100 2015/16 and is one of the few rock songs in that list. Rock stars are usually not well represented and not my my favorite to paint therefor this one is so late. The Flaming Lips and especially Wayne Coyne (recording with Miley Cyrus recently) are certainly rock stars. The portrait was done on a landscape painting that served as a demo for the "Expressive Landscape Painting" class at the Center for the Arts at Bonita Springs.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hey Ho Let's Go

The Ramones
16 x 20, oil on found canvas, 2016
The wonderful exhibition of Arturo Vega at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW has ended. Arturo Vega, in the 1980s, was known as the fifth Ramone. He was responsible for the branding of the Ramones, he was their manager, stage and light designer, and so much more. Above all Arturo Vega was an artist and his series of Insult Paintings shown, alongside the more iconic American Seal paintings, belong to the memorable paintings I've seen this past year. My art students at FSW had never heard of the Ramones so I had to introduce them to some great early live performance videos of the band on YouTube. It branded the band into the memories of my students and into the my Top 100 of last year. Hey Ho, Let's Go!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Self-portrait-a-day

Self Portrait as Cat Power: Moon Pix
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

As one of many New Year's resolutions I decided I would do a self portrait a day. Towards the end of last year I had already started doing the morning pages, stream of consciousness writing geared toward freeing creativity. I found at a thrift store the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, a best selling new age self help guide book for blocked artists. Due to an intense teaching schedule I had only made few works in the autumn of 2016. I had nothing to loose. It was a good thing, I'm still doing these three pages each morning in a note book that I had dedicated as a dream journal a few months earlier. The self portraits seem a logic extension to the morning pages. What better way to get back into producing work again than to draw self portraits? Next week I start teaching a drawing class in college and I intend to make the students do a self-portrait-a-day, preferably in the morning. As a teacher to this class I decided I would be a student at the same time, expose myself to the same rigorous regime as I put the students through. I get a fresh start myself in a way. Start over. New year, new beginning. The portraits very quickly turned into a Top 100 extension (as so much of my work does): draw myself as the musicians from the Top 100 appear on their records. I've done it before, some 12 years ago—I was still a handsome fella then—but now as an old man. 

Ghana/Self
oil on paper, 24x18" 2004 
Anyway... the first one, as it was the first one in 2004, in this context is a Cat Power impersonation. The image I started with is the cover of the Moon Pix album. I've used it several times before for Cat Power portraits, it's lovely image. The artist who created the image is  Roe Etheridge. The image is reproduced in a book that features some of my own works as well. You Should've Heard Just What I Seen was published in 2013. Yesterday I wrote a new artist statement for a job application. It's basically an update from the statement at the header of this page. Here it is in full:

"The Top 100 is an ongoing series of one hundred portrait paintings of musicians and accompanying writings every year since 1989. The simple and straight forward concept of the Top 100 has stayed the same throughout almost 30 years of painting. The premise is the shallow vantage point of a music fan at his insignificant home looking out onto a world of cultural importance. While the context has shifted from a hobby to an activity within contemporary art, the essence has stayed the same. The format is a hermetic system in which everything is open and free to experiment, surprise, failure and excellence, open too to different styles and techniques, emotional expression and introversion. The format is both that of a personal diary and of an impersonal archive charting the music an individual encounters throughout a lifetime. The Top 100 is a testament of a life lived in the margins of notoriety and a historical record of the world of music and the scene of the avant garde. Shameless crushes and adorations of musical heroes provide an intimate yet recognizable account of oneʼs humble existence within an unattainable world bigger than ours. That the paintings of musicians are now shown at the same venues as their objects of desire play in, and the painted portraits appear on the sleeves of the sound recordings they illustrate, does not alter the relationship between object and subject. The artist responsible is still that fan. Itʼs all about them, the others."

I might as well forward some other self portraits I did in the past few days. Nothing to be too proud of, perhaps even a bit embarrassing, but here they are regardless. A note about the Amalia Mendoza one is that I think she's one of the great singers of the 20th century but unfortunately the context of her recordings make it less universally so: Mariachi. There's nothing wrong with mariachi but the Mendoza records (I have four of them) could certainly do without. If I had the time, expertise, and equipment, I would reissue all her records without the mariachi. She would sing unaccompanied or, in some cases, just by an acoustic guitar or piano. Her voice does not need all these happy trumpets. The best self portrait perhaps, thus far, is the one where I substitute Nina Simone's face for my own. The image is from her first record Little Girl Blue.
Self Portrait as Amalia Mendoza: Los Exitos
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

Self Portrait as Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

Friday, October 28, 2016

In Stores Now...


Les Siècles Live: György Ligeti
12 x 12 cm, CD cover, Musicales Actes Sud
In stores now Les Siècles Live: György Ligeti, directed by François-Xavier Roth featuring cover art that was found by he publisher Actes Sud on this very blog. A beautiful CD on which Les Siècles perform Six Bagatelles, Kammerkonzert, and Dix Pièces pour Quintette à vent. I'm very excited about this and the music is steadily climbing the lists of the Top 100.

György Ligeti
6.25 x 5.6 inches, oil on wood, 2012