Sunday, August 17, 2014


Busta Rhymes
24" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
A year before I started blogging the Top 100 was published in book form. At #92 that year appeared the song Touch It by Busta Rhymes. The video for that song is beautiful as a group of high school girls out-rap Mr. Rhymes. Before that song hit the top 100 I had already collected a list of songs whose titles consisted of only two words, the last one being "it." It sure makes for a good hit!
  • Twerk It – Busta Rhymes
  • Work It – Missy Elliott
  • Touch It – Busta Rhymes
  • Whip It – DEVO
  • Rock It – Herbie Hancock
  • Push It – Salt 'n' Pepa
  • Pump It – Black Eyed Peas
  • Beat It – Michael Jackson
  • Eat It – Weird Al Yankovic
  • Hold It! – Eddie Cleanhead Vinson
  • Bump It – Erykah Badu
  • Doin It – L.L. Cool J
  • Doin It – Herman Brood
  • Bring It – Judge
  • Shake It – Metro Station
  • Lick It – 20 Fingers (a much better lick it song is by Khia but it's called My Neck, My Back—"My neck, my back, Lick my pussy and my crack.")
  • Fake It – Seether (really bad song, I really expected to find a song with this title by a female hip hop artist)
Let me know if there are other its I need to listen to (I always appreciate a comment :) Busta Rhymes then; Twerk It (a second twerk song in the list—see Big Freedia) is the second "It" song by Busta Rhymes in the top 100 (the other one is the aforementioned Touch It. Busta Rhymes, according to MTV "one of hip hop's greatest visual artists, is a rapper originating from Brooklyn. His real name is Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., Chuck D (from Public Enemy) gave him the moniker Busta Rhymes after a football player. The background in the painting, the shadow that is, or shape, is the image of Sylvester Stone. His painting will be next. Why? Just because I want to...I want to...I Want to Take You Higher.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"I am a Cliché"

Poly Styrene/X-Ray Specs
16" x 10", oil on canvas, 2014
Among painters it is a cliche that you paint in similar colors as the clothing you wear. To keep up with the cliche I even went so far as to paint exactly what I wear, I am the cliche! It's been too long since the X-Ray Specs were in the top 100, and I haven't painted their singer Polly Styrene in six or seven years. When I painted her again, just today, I decided to use the image from the Oh Bondage Up Yours!/I am a Cliché 45 sleeve. Exactly the sleeve that is reproduced for the t-shirt I'm wearing in the photo below. You can't really read what it says but it is—in yellow "X-Ray Specs", in green "Oh Bondage Up Yours!", and in red "I am a Cliché." Now the top 100 contains neither Oh Bondage nor I am a Cliché but yet another hit of the punk band The Day the World Turned Day-Glo. The X-Ray Specs is truly a family affair as Emil gave me the t-shirt while I provided Maria with a picture disc version of Germ Free Adolescents on which The Day the World Turned Day-Glo appears. The Day the World Turned Day-Glo is also a single for the band.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Cover photo of Mississippi Girls: 1928-1931
17.75" x 10.75", oil on roofing felt, 2014
For blues aficionados like myself the Document label is where it's at. The Austrian label has the ambition to release all blues music recorded before 1945 in chronological order. It released nearly a thousand records thus far. I own about twenty-five of them and my favorite is the cd Mississippi Girls: 1928-1931. It contains the complete works (in chronological order of course) of Geechie Wiley and Elvie Thomas (see an earlier post), Mattie Delaney, Mary Butler, and Rosie Mae Moore. Mattie Mae Moore recorded 4 sides in 1928 accompanied by Charlie McCoy on guitar. Staggering Blues and Ha Ha Blues stand out most. Ha Ha Blues makes the top 100 for the second time: "Papa, I'm slipping out tonight, I'm going ha ha ha. All you men, you may go your way. I'm sick and tired, of your low dirty ways". There is no known photograph of Rosie Mae Moore that I'm aware of but the cover photo on the cd-jacket provided a more than appropriate alternative to illustrate Ms. Moore. It's painted on a piece of roofing felt, left over from my roofing job, as a challenge from one of my students who recently started painting on such surfaces. (I don't think I'll do more than one though!)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

John & Yoko

Yoko Ono
8.5"x11", markers on paper, 2014

The source for the two drawings presented here is the same photograph in which the illustrious couple is divided by an American flag. Separated here in two drawings to represent Ono's song Air Male (1970) from the Fly album recorded with Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band and Helter Skelter (1967) from the Beatles' White Album which was actually written by Paul McCartney. I made the drawings last night experimenting with a new set of designer markers my wife gave me as a present. Yoko was the first drawing I did with these markers, and it's better than John's who came second. The American flag in the iconic photograph of the two is actually an art work by Ono and the stars of the flag are represented by skulls, the stripes are lines of texts, political anti-American statements. I played a small part earlier this year in the preparations for the Yoko Ono exhibit Imagine Peace at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery. The videos in the show and the lectures accompanying it were to me the most interesting part of the exhibition.

John Lennon
8.5"x11", markers on paper, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rebel Girls

Tobi Vail (Bikini Kill)
24" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
The first painting class in the new season at the Alliance for the Arts I named A Means to Meaning. Usually I introduce the class with a slide lecture, and for the occasion I had prepared a talk in which I would introduce the theme of meaning through the topic of punk rock. The second second class then I brought with me a selection of my punk rock records, and especially those that come with the customary artwork insert. I brought with me all my Bikini Kill records along with the Dead Kennedys, Huggy Bear, and some others. Included was Bikini Kill's album Pussy Whipped (which features Rebel Girl) as well the single version of Rebel Girl on which Joan Jett makes a guest appearance. The previous class had the (Bikini Kill's) artwork for the song embedded in the presentation, and I was actually flabbergasted to find precisely that image (but in the color red) tucked in to the 45 single. Rebel Girl is a sort of anthem of the Riot Grrrl movement and the song yet again made my list of 100 this year. Most paintings I've done for Bikini Kill songs featured a portrait of Kathleen Hanna, but this time I chose (drummer and sometimes singer) Tobi Vail. I had just watched the documentary movie Her Noise (a nice anagram of the word "heroines") about punk rock music and art made by women. Tobi Vail's current band The Spider and the Webs make an appearance in that movie. See for yourself:
Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Alexander Scriabin
24"x16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
I forgot to mention in the previous post that I also turned fifty during the summer. Not that it has too much to do with anything but it may the reason that I suddenly start playing selections from this substantial collection of classical music of mine. Not only because classical music is more suitable for a fifty year-old than say punk-rock, but also that at that age one starts to recollect memories from the past (and play the same music you played twenty-five years ago.) Sonate No. 3 op. 23 from the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin belongs to that category. It made it into my top 100 twenty-five years ago but remained unplayed since. Until just recently that is. My archive still spelled his name the Dutch way: Skrjabin, which is actually identical to how it is spelled on the German vinyl record I bought a little while back that features the sonata in question. I never had a copy save for an old cassette tape that is long lost. I don't know who played piano on that old tape that I copied from a radio broadcast. The pianist on the German record is Vitalij Margulis from the Soviet Union. He was born in Kharkiv in what is now Ukraine (the north-eastern part of it. Yet another instance in which the top 100 selections parallel the news. Purely coincidental this time.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer 2014

Béla Bartók
24" x 16"
oil on canvas paper, 2014
Summer was not a good time to paint. Between reconstruction of the house, the World Cup, and the heat there simply wasn’t a space for painting. Now that the roof is done, the World Cup is over (heat still here), and teaching season starting, I found my way back into the studio. The soundtrack to all this summer activity? There wasn’t one. I didn’t buy any new music and I didn’t play any music while working construction. I remotely picked up an interest in the Brazilian composer Ary Barroso, whose Aquarela do Brasil was a bit of World Cup theme song, but not enough so to claim a spot in the top 100. The few records I did play in the past few months were classical discs by East European composers. Due to my habit of shopping for records at thrift stores, I have quite a collection of classical music. So much so that I stopped buying medieval music, Maria Callas recordings, and records from the Nonesuch label. What I still pick up are records by the composers Shostakovich, Scriabin, and Bartók. I now have fourteen 33rpm discs with the music of Béla Bartók, and two more records with ethnographic recordings made by him. Some records feature Bartók himself on piano. This is not the case however in a recording of The Miraculous Mandarin by Tibo Serly and the New Symphony Orchestra of London. Still, the record is pretty close to the source with the label being Bartók Records, and Tibo Serly being an intimate associate of Bartók. The recording was made in 1951, six years after the composer died, and was one of the first recordings of the piece.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Beth Orton – Something More Beautiful

Beth Orton, 24" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
Something More Beautiful, the number 3 from the previous top 100 is back in the list. After supplying the number 1 for two consecutive years, Beth Orton plays this year a modest role with just this one song in the bottom half of the list. It's a great song nevertheless, and it's always fun to paint her. This is the twelfth painting I did of her, by no means a record, but it's the most since I started reproducing these paintings on this site in 2010. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Steve Lacy – Momentum

Steve Lacy, 24" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
Momentum is the title of a record by the Steve Lacy Sextet recorded in 1987. Beside Lacy the sextet include his wife Irene Aebi, Steve Potts, Bobby Few, Jean-Jacques Avinel, and Oliver Johnson. The group was based in Paris, but most musicians are American. Steve Lacy was from New York. A seminal figure in contemporary Jazz he was a prolific recording artist. More than a hundred records were released under his own name, and then a hundred more as a contributor or side man. Momentum, a  recent thrift store find, is the first I own. The cover, as is often the case with contemporary jazz records, features a work of Abstract Expressionist art. The artist Oliver Agid is French. The portrait was done in a few hours, emulating the Edith Piaf portrait of a few weeks back. The silhouette is Cat Power's (see previous post).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cat Power – Names

Cat Power, 24" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2014
There are several Cat Power songs in the list this year. Recently I pulled You Are Free from the holdings to be included in a small stack of records next to my player. You Are Free is my favorite Cat Power record but I hadn't listen to it in a long time. Most of the songs from the LP have featured in my Top 100 but curiously enough it was the song Names that made the biggest impression on me this time. Names had never featured in a Top 100 list but is as beautiful, intense, and interesting as some of the mainstay songs. The song is a counting song in which a series of children are described who progress in age—one year for each new name. The process of the painting is rather curious, as I seem to switch between styles and processes and attitude about three times a month. Cat Power was painted over the course of five days. While I'm in the process of reroofing my house I took five minutes her, five minutes there to work the painting. Every time I needed to go to the studio to pick up a tool or a piece of lumber Cat Power greeted me upon entering and invited me to take another five minute break. The first three days of the process the painting existed as a monochrome purple but after that colors fit in real easy. So it's a bit of a casual painting, without stretches of real focus. Well, the painting is done but the roof is not even half way there yet. (To be continued...)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maria Alyokhina

Maria Alyokhina, 437 x 357 pixels, digital file, 2014
See, it's not just Nadya Tolokonnikova I use to illustrate the next Pussy Riot song. This digital portrait of Maria Alyokhina you see here is a first attempt to make use of this sketchbook full of quick pen drawings. Nothing too serious here, just another illustration for yet another song about Vladimir Putin, the most sung about person in the top 100. (There are a few songs in the list that muse about Allah, but Allah is not a person, is he?)

Nadya Tolokonnikova, 4" x 4.75", digital file, 2014
Alright then, Nadya Tolokonnikova is in the sketchbook too, but here's then yet another Maria Alyokhina for you.

Maria Alyokhina, digital file, 2014


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Edith Piaf

Édith Piaf
24" x 16"
oil on canvas paper, 2014
Édith Piaf is back in, a bit of a cliche perhaps for a self-proclaimed eclectic music enthusiast to resort to names that are standard fare in the world of eclectic music. Piaf and Umm Kulthum (as it appears to be spelled these days), are the musicians most synonymous with eclectic taste. I never payed much attention to Umm Kulthum but of Édith Piaf I collected quite a few discs over the years. The song in this year's list is the b-side to her 1947 signature single La Vie en rose called Un refrain courait dans la rue. The painting is done on top of a sketch of Mariko Gotō (who I painted last week). I covered Gotō's silhouette with a very dark purple before superimposing the laughing Édith Piaf. Usually I don't pick laughing poses but here is the exception.