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 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. 

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

Neil Leonard

Neil Leonard and Kat Epple
9 x 12 inches, pen on paper, 2016
signed by performers
On August 20th, as part of the lecture/performance series accompanying the RE:SOUND exhibit at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW, Neil Leonard performed in collaboration with Kat Epple, of the art-music-Rauschenberg-affiliated-band Sonic Combine. In front of a small audience, including Leonard's partner, the well known artist Maria Magdalena Camos-Pons, Neil Leonard performed a memorable set that was a mix of some of his earlier work and improvised collaborative work with Kat Epple. Leonard was in Fort Myers because of a residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, the location of Rauschenberg's home and studio. Neil Leonard is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes collaborations with Tony Oursler and Constance de Jong, that was featured at the Whitney Biennial, and with Camos-Pons.

Lee Ranaldo

Lee Ranaldo
11 x 8.5 inches, stencil print edition 80, 2016
It's been 25 years since Sonic Youth made an appearance at the Top 100. I've been playing their music again mainly because of an upcoming performance by Lee Ranaldo at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW in Fort Myers. I was honored to be asked to provide the graphics for poster and postcard for this performance. The performance was supposed to take place during the exhibit RE:SOUND featuring the work of Glenn Branca. Ranaldo played on the iconic Ascension LP by Glenn Branca (1981). Thurston Moore also played with Branca, and together with Kim Gordon Sonic Youth soon formed. The Ranaldo performance was postponed due to scheduling conflicts and will now take place at a later date. The image below is one of the sketches I submitted for the poster, that, when the time comes, will be produced as a limited edition stencil print.
Lee Ranaldo concert poster sketch
6 x 7 inches, stencil on paper, 2016
Sonic Youth ceased to exist in 2011. Ranaldo maintains a busy performance schedule throughout the world, Kim Gordon just had her first solo exhibition as an artist in New York. Thurston Moore is active as a producer and in various musical projects, while drummer Steve Shelley is in a band called Sun Kil Moon. Shelley produced Cat Power's What Would the Community Think, launching the career of one of my favorite musicians. Here's another image, a painting.
Lee Ranaldo
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Raymond Scott

Raymond Scott
9 x 9 inches, oil on canvas, 2016
Not many people today know about Raymond Scott (1908-1994) but some of his music will be recognized by many. In the 1943 Warner Brothers bought the publishing rights for his music and used it in many of its animated cartoons. Powerhouse, originally recorded by the Raymond Scott Quintette in 1937, was used multiple times in Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies, most notably in Bugs Bunny. It has been used four times in The Simpsons, in The Bernie Mac Show, The Drew Carey Show, and in many other TV productions. Raymond's Toy Trumpet became famous as In the Army Now from the cartoon Ren and Stimpy. His frantic jazz theme of Powerhouse is known now as the Assembly Line music in animated cartoons. Raymond Scott was an early electronic music pioneer who recorded a number of experimental records. Soothing Sounds for Babies is an odd but groundbreaking recording collaborated with The Gesell Institute of Child Development.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Dick Higgins
18 x 24, oil on canvas, 2016
Many of the paintings seen on this site have been created on top of older paintings. Some were my own, often demos for painting classes, others are done on found paintings. The reason for this is economic and practical rather than aesthetic. Economic because amateur paintings can be found at thrift stores for a fraction of the money it would cost to prepare your own, practical because starting a painting is easier when something is already there than on a blank canvas. When making a mark on an existing painting it becomes dynamic. The act of violating a painting by someone else creates a tension between two realities. Until this week I had never used a portrait painting by someone else. My intention was to maintain a lot of the original painting in my own. At the end only the eyes of the original remained visible. The following image shows the process. I started with pastels.
The finished painting is a portrait of Dick Higgins, part of my renewed interest of the sound recordings by artists from the Fluxus movement. This interest was raised by the exhibition Re:Sound, featuring the work of Philip Corner, at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in Fort Myers, Florida. The Higgins song in this year's top 100 is In Memoriam from 1961. It's the second time the track is in the top 100, and thus my second painting of Higgins ten years after the first. In Memoriam is made available for anyone to listen to on the fantastic site UbuWeb. The following are the words introducing In Memoriam: "In Memoriam was made of assembling loops a dub a phonograph record of 16th century dance music. The dance is heard, simultaneously, up to sixteen times as fast and sixteen times as slow as the original, backwards as well as forward, giving a sort of cinematic effect." 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bajabula Bonke

Hugh Masekela
Oil on canvas, 5 x 5 inches, 2016
The Promise of a Future is a 1968 record by Hugh Masekela that introduced the world to the ubiquitous tune Grazing in the Grass. Hugh Masekela is a South African trumpet player who began his career playing for Albert Herbert in 1956. He joined the Manhattan Brothers in 1958 before joining the orchestra for the movie King Kong. At the end of 1959 he formed, with Dollar Brand and others, the Jazz Epistles, the first South American group to record a jazz LP. Masekela, always vocal in opposition to the apartheid regime, fled the country in 1960. He ended up in Manhattan two years after being a Manhattan Brother, married and divorced Miriam Makeba, all before his smash hit Grazing in the Grass made him a rock star at 29. The Promise of a Future is a great Afro-Jazz album and the Bajabula Bonke (The Healing Song) my favorite track.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Ann Hirsch performing as Caroline in Scandalishious 
to Donna Summer's Last Dance in 
Caroline's Official Goodbye Video
Oil on canvas, 7 x 5 inches, 2016
It's time to announce a textbook I've written, not about music this time, it's about art. You are an Artist! An Interactive Approach to Art History will soon be issued in a digital format and a few months later in print. There are a few places I allow my art work to be shown. These are small portrait illustrations in the margins next to a discussion of an artist. This one here of Ann Hirsch is the last one submitted. The portrait may double for the Top 100 2015/16. As part of my 'research' on Ann Hirsch, I watched about twenty of the 200 videos Hirsch posted, while still an art student, on her Caroline's fun fun channel on YouTube. These videos, created between 2008 and 2010, are five to ten minutes each and are fun to watch. They're actually kind of addictive. In most videos she introduces a song to which she will dance. The introductions are great. In her sweetest innocent voice (she plays an 18 year old character called Caroline—Hirsch was 23 at the time) she addresses her audience and talks about topics ranging from feminism, haircuts, art, her clothes, love, literature, and online bullying. Hirsch managed to get an enormous online following and over two million views. She directly addresses her audience, and interact with many through the commentary board. She dances to a wide range of music in her videos. The Smiths, Animal Collective, the New Pornographers are a few. In one video she dances laying down to Freda Payne's Band of Gold and cries. In the last video Hirsch posted in the Scandalishious series, Caroline's Official Goodbye Video, she dances to Donna Summer's Last Dance. She had to stop as Caroline because she soon would be found out. A bit later she featured as herself ("I'm Ann, and I'm an artist") on VH1on national television, in a reality show called Frank the Entertainer.