2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the writer lafcadio hearn's arrival in the united states. hearn, while not a household name, is well established in some literary circles and certainly known in parts of japan where he spent his final years crafting his interpretation of japanese culture and folklore.
however, his meandering career started in ohio where, as a fledgling writer for the cincinnati enquirer, he depicted all manner of morbidity and murder that regularly startled his readers. with one eye lost to a childhood accident, his unique appetites later led him to new orleans and martinique as well as many other stops en route to japan's ghosts.
to commemorate the several hearn-related events that are taking place here in cincinnati and abroad, i have created this piece that may or may not also serve as some spitballing for a larger collaborative project.
as the full weight of the oppressive summer heat bears down upon on us, we turn to our balmy desires towards small vents everywhere.....in the car....stores or restaurants....be it languidly opening freezer doors or pressing damp laundry to our faces in a darkened wash room, anything pushing some relief towards our dwindling prayers is welcome. the earth is sick and burning and will one day shake off all its fleas again so fire up the grill!
now, since i am not a "word man", i better get to the stuff i came here for.......and yet, somehow connected i suppose, is this thrift store music box i found not long ago. upon seeing it i couldn't contain the urge to paint it black. well, with a wash, really. although not much of an appropriation artist, i do find myself more and more leaning on production techniques i've been practicing every day for the last 4 years......so... black bird singing in the dead of night. is it a one-off? probably.
long way of saying, despite my best efforts, production art still has me in its jaws. we have had big projects this year for universal studios (the harry potter ride) and dollywood (wildwood grove tree), among others. other than that....waiting on results.....didn't make a couple anthologies.....did make some other publications....and i do have a neil armstrong story in the pipeline though, which i will post here soon. stay cool.
knowing it deserved to be more than a one-liner, this one has been a long time coming....should it be color? 8 pages? 10 pages? do i draw that one guy's wiener? do i acknowledge the zulu face paint stuff?
in 2015 i emailed my friends to see what they remembered from our mardi gras trip in 1992. their accounts were riotous- it is always interesting to see the way memory of shared events tints from one person to the next. nonetheless, i herded up all of the pertinent information, common denominators, and references to finally get us here. opting not to rush a few pages, i missed last year's deadline....and still barely made it this time! part of the issue is grappling with a story, simple as mine are. i thumbnail everything to some degree, but the arc really gets resolved on the page......and then page 6 might change what i was thinking on page 1. so often there is some looking back and seeing where i could have made improvements. rather than george lucas everything, sometimes you gotta know when to say when and just take that knowledge into the next project....so these comics are what they are. that is how my brain works. i'm not complaining or disclaiming. just talking shop about the creative process.
thanks to mark m, julie k, tim m, sandrine w, jeff w, and amy p for their instrumental contributions. oh, and johnny q for photographing it and eric j for photo refs. FAT TUESDAY, like all sordid tales before it, is unsuitable for romantics.....
however, if you'd rather not jump through all those hoops, the top 25 reads like so:
25) suspirium- thom yorke
24) minotaur forgiving minos- moonface
23) all nerve- the breeders
22) extraordinary love- erika wennerstrom
21) dance of the lotus- the joy formidable
20) secret light- the men
19) what do you feel free about?- the juan maclean, man power remix
18) pearly gates- u.s. girls
17) forget me- born ruffians
16) obsession- no joy/sonic boom
15) a song for those who miss you all the time- thin lips
14) cut yr teeth- kississippi
13) future creme- total control
12) negative space- hookworms
11) good times are gone again- fred thomas
10) overthrown- thee oh sees
9) black car- beach house
8) drab measure- crack cloud
7) always elsewhere- ron gallo
5) stains on silence- girls names
4) spells- jenny hval
3) pink- mothers
2) the dread- sibille attar
1) dawn: making an effort- the breeders
speaking of comics, there are a couple still in the works where some strides were made, there's that 8 (or 9) pager about fat tuesday that hopes to hit its deadline this time around, and the ever-perpetuated hello earth has been tooled slightly and is now called the ninth wave, freeing it up conceptually to be better than before.
so, i'm still alive. kind of.
REMEMBER TO VOTE.
i did it by mail this time. hope it makes it.
what started as a trivial pursuit has slowly progressed towards something perhaps a bit more legitimate within the larger context of my work. for better or worse, a small fleet of lids now have their own designation within these terrible walls. it isn't my intention to highlight every one i've made; for combing over them i am reminded they started out considerably more tongue-in-cheek until they succumbed to the more daring, painterly and pointed... and likely exorcising a few demons in the process.
with that in mind, one of said lids has been elected for a (very) limited run of t-shirts to be found only here. thee oh sees (formerly OCS, and currently, oh sees) is a san francisco band that has one of the more charged live shows i've ever seen. a favorite of mine for awhile now, their raw sound was what i would call a natural analogy for my piece "all the tongues and words wouldn't matter" so i am very comfortable with this cross-pollination. so with that, any hardcore fans out there dying to have one can reach me directly through the contact info on my bio page (if there are any still available). we will see what we can come up with. i want to stress that this is my artistic interpretation and, with respect to the band, not official merchandise and therefore not for sale.
when people ask me what i do at my "day job" it's always easier to show than tell......and i can't even tell you what i am currently working on until it becomes public. for instance, all of this stuff below is at least a year old. subjects can range anywhere from models and then life size interactives for a civil rights, air and space, or historical museum, or licensed characters for amusement park rides, replicating artifacts, tourist attractions, it is really all across the board. sometimes simple theming, sometimes complex. there is something new all the time. and yet, some of the absolute coolest stuff is happening now, so i'll get back to you on those......but here is a sampling of some past projects.
been listening to the fall a lot the last several days, following the recent death of principal player mark e smith. his passing is notable for several reasons, but i specifically wanted to acknowledge it was he, after all, who invented the line "unsuitable for romantics", which i've borrowed for my collection of autobiographical comics. it barely registers in the world of searchable everything, just a line of graffiti he scrawled for a 1982 advertisement promoting the album hex education hour......but, twas enough to resonate with me when i saw it years ago.
breaking with tradition a little bit here......
with the notable exception of NO contribution whatsoever for 2016, in the past i've listed my take on the best albums of the year. i do prefer that format so perhaps i'm afforded the time for its return next december. still, in the mish-mash of the daily grind i found a lot of good songs the past 12 months and dumped them all into a 2017 spotify playlist.
157 songs in some semblance of order from meh to best. sure, i probably missed a couple....that happens every year, but even my past lists get additions throughout the year. so check them all out. i'm here. however, if you just want the red meat, the top 25 reads like so:
............................and behold i find myself wandering back to black. here's a fresh batch from the lid pile.
the first of some one panel comics.....and of course they'll all be unsuitable for romantics.....
as i approach 500 overtime hours of production art this year (holy shit, it is only august?), i am still looking toward that someday when the dust settles, metaphorically and literally...i am often coated in dust by somebody grinding on fiberglass or cutting steel within a visceral moan of where i am trying to paint. working for the likes of disney, universal and sony sounds cool but can grind one down as well. as mentioned last post, as these deadlines are met i still try to crank out a deli lid or two for my sanity's sake....i'll put them all here eventually. or the best ones, anyway.
with regards to other branches of my own work, still progressing on comics and illustrations on the side, which i will share soon. i was also recently contacted by an art consultant who is interested in using select images of paintings (or, in some cases, the paintings themselves). in the past i have avoided some of these inquiries because it wasn't a good fit, but i like most of the this particular group's projects. that dialogue has just begun.
last, SOS ART for a better world is exhibiting its 2015 book illustrations later this month at xavier university. i'd have to look back to see who all is included in that, but i am particularly excited to be showing with brian level, a fellow cincinnatian and comic book artist who is the best there is at what he does, and what he does isn't very nice (that's a comic book joke). below is the postcard, where you get a good look at his poignant take on the charlie hebdo attack (L), and mine (BR), regarding disadvantaged children in our society.
as previously mentioned, i spend a grueling amount of time working as a production artist, which really only means i'm a hired gun putting a nice finish on other people's "art" (see: amusement and sometimes educational objects).
the primary downside is such a schedule inhibits me from making my own work with the zeal and energy usually needed.
however, it has been rewarding in some unexpected ways too.....i'm constantly challenged and further developing my skills through materials and subject matter i would not probably seek on my own. it's just a different beast than my own art. so as i try to square these 2 art worlds of which i orbit, i find myself putting a spin on some of the everyday tools of the trade. me and my crew go through lots of paint, containers, brushes and the like.....i often use deli cup lids as palettes and soon had a pile, that, when viewed from the opposite side are quite pleasingly sealed under plastic. put a little marker on top of that and you get a clean, finished looking piece of trash!
why are concert shirts so hard to throw out?
there is a new one-pager up that is unsuitable for romantics, called god save the tees. if you're a fan of live shows or just pimping your favorite bands, you just might relate. like many of you, my fixation has been with "alternative/modern rock" thanks in large part to cincinnati's own 97X (the best station that ever was)... and i've had some of these shirts for 30 years!
anyway, there are a few visual jokes for those in the know.....
look for more comics ahead, several in the works of various lengths and commitment!
ALSO, in january i did a small interview with felan, a poetry and visual arts zine with the theme of AMUSEMENT.
featured pieces include SAVIOR, and the illustration of comrade trump you see below in the previous post.
you can read the interview here, in which i discuss all sorts of things from scary watercolors and why roadkill isn't funny, to michael graves' funeral. oh, and buy it here!
see ya next time.
just finished an illustration for what i understand to be the best of for a better world, the annual publication of cincinnati poets and artists on peace and justice. amazingly, it is in its 13th year. i am no stranger to this book, having done it 5 other times, including a cover in 2005 in its infancy (see below). as it goes, a visual artist is paired with a poet who has provided either one or a few poems. often, said poems address war, poverty, homelessness, human rights and the like, and by now there's a pretty impressive database of cincinnati artists. i'm hoping this archive can soon be cross-referenced by individual names...mostly because i want to navigate them easier and be blown away by the list of talent.
traditionally, the book has been in black and white, however "the best of" is in color so i took the opportunity to punch it up (bottom right). really, each year gets better. the examples below, and the poets they are collaborating with, can also be found on the illustration page of this site. sorry, earlier photos aren't the greatest.
my illustration this time combines 2 poems by jeffrey hillard, pertaining to the war in iraq and the notion of a soldier being saved by a book in his breast pocket. i became transfixed with that that idea on top of all of the gear most soldiers are outfitted with.
so, with that in mind.....
the state of affairs, the direction of the world....urgh....i have mostly stayed out of the fray regarding our recent....election. partially because i am completely unamused with reality tv and partly because there is no shortage of opinion regarding the matter. STILL......i may or may not have a small contribution somewhere in early 2017. let's just leave it at that until the stench blows over. see ya next time!
sayonara 2016, you horrible beast.
been a couple of months since anything has happened in the old NEWS section, so i suppose there's a reason for that. it's called my day job. i've been working an ungodly amount most of this year.
in the summer of 2015 i left the gallery scene (for now) and jumped back into production art. i had done it several years back and it mostly includes murals, finishing, or facade painting in any variety of spraying and brushwork.
the company i currently work for, LF creative, does, among other things, large scale sculpture and licensed characters for museums, amusement parks, special exhibitions, etc. you kind of have to see it to know what i'm talking about- the catch is much of what we are currently working on can't be shared until their respective deadlines pass. so, what i can show is from months ago.....but, day in and day out, there is always something weird in the shop. if you follow me on twitter, well, you'll get a lot of absurdity, but an occasional work related post (also most likely tied into some absurdity) relating to certain projects and the freaks who make them.
besides that, other things are starting or continuing to take shape.....commissions, illustrations, personal projects being revisited......still getting a handle on scheduling it all and will share some of those next time. for now, a sampling of the production art spectrum.....
as i continue to get organized and up and running again, making art in a new studio, i suppose i can take the time to reiterate some of the things that were still in the works before "the big shut down" occurred (long story). as a now former westwoodian and (still) car enthusiast, doing some promotional ideas with westwood works for the first annual community car show was very enjoyable and locally rewarding. here are the 2 designs submitted for this august's coming event. i personally favored the one that wasn't chosen (the 3 cars), but am pleased to contribute in any way. here's hoping for a successful initial show for an area that has been growing, building on the energy of young leadership, and a beautiful neighborhood i've called home for 17 years. stay cool westwood
on a totally different note, several of my pieces from the 1990's (personally, an era of colorful hedonism) are being featured in an upcoming up the staircase quarterly 90s issue. curious to see what else might turn up there....probably fairly heavy on the pop culture references, but no doubt examining the grunge aesthetic as well, which i suppose was one ingredient in how i made art back then......so until next time....i'm gonna break, i'm gonna break my, i'm gonna break my rusty cage....and run.
tighter, tourniquet, tighter, oil on canvas, 30" x 22", 1993
well, spring has had its share of surprises, costing me some valuable time planning and creating new things...but i hope to be up and running again soon in a new studio that promises to be....well, very small in the spacial sense, but big in the inspirational. here's to new beginnings.
in the meantime, storm cellar 5.1 is a literary journal from milwaukee, with outposts in chicago and minneapolis, and they have decided to use my piece, pickpocket, as a pretty cool wrap-around cover for the latest volume. i think the nature of the image lends itself quite nicely to such a format, so kudos to their art director for recognizing that.
i have only seen it in PDF format so far but anticipate reading a printed copy soon, which i believe you can currently find in a couple of places, including on etsy.
opening APRIL 29, in just over a week, is the bowie in the basement tribute show at thunder-sky, inc. in northside, cincinnati. based on what little i saw, i think the variety will be pretty cool. pictured (lower) left are mine (again, detail), marie gardeski's gentle portrait of 14 yr old bowie, and a terrific painting called glampire, by old friend jonathan queen. and that's just a sampling! to top the night off, word is bowie karoake will be in full effect as well. should be a really fun night.
AND i also recently found out that mine will be included in a bowie tribute zine called the opening door, via CSArt main. that should be in a couple of months still.
march 4, 2016 at manifest gallery opens the ohio regional showcase, of which i will have a large car piece in. glad to finally make it into a show at manifest- i was contractually unable to do for the last several years. here also is just a glimpse at some poster work i am designing for a local car show later this year.....somewhat atypically graphic for me but fitting for the event. more about that when the time comes.
finally, a bowie tribute show is taking place in april at thunder-sky, inc., which you should read about. a great idea in a gallery dedicated to a fascinating guy, raymond thunder-sky. i'm having to recreate my drawing below, which was half digital, to be cleaned up and hangable. WIP at right. all in all, art i enjoy making for people and places i like as well, as it should be.
one of the pillars of rock & roll has fallen and picasso has died twice in david bowie. what i mean by that is there are performers and there are artists; those who embody a higher calling and live their art. as far as i can tell, bowie was never just a performer. much has been written about him following his passing, and much has been written about how much has been written.....so i won't belabor the point, but now giving it some thought and sorting through why it seems like his death creates a huge cultural hole, it's because it absolutely does. like picasso, or any number of history changing creators before him, bowie represents an artist in the classic sense, a master spanning decades, bodies of work, each more compelling than the last, and all of it culminates to be nothing short of mythology. the anti-hero with a thousand faces. i can think of few people with the range to sing with bing crosby and trent reznor both while launching so many musicians down their paths. not surprisingly, he was also a champion of the visual artists too. the most obvious being tony oursler. oursler was probably bound for success anyway, but catching bowie's eye and support certainly didn't hurt.
like so many others, i was compelled this week to do a couple pieces regarding bowie. the first (right) was just pushing paint.....a small study depicting him on stage in the 70's. the second (above) more graphic and based on his final album and videos (which are amazingly poetic in confronting his own impending death), occurred some days later when i realized i wasn't quite done thinking about him. still not, really.....i like that, like him, these two pieces are quite different in tone. occasionally an artist will "reinvent" themselves, and that sounds cool and all, but bowie actually did that time and time again, all the while staying true to his art and arc. oh, and what a seemingly great guy........perhaps a little less self-serving than picasso in that respect.
this is usually the only non-art related thing i post here, but i've been keeping track for the last several years and log a lot of listening time in while working, so what the hell. i also usually find a glaring omission or two about 3 months later...that's just the nature of the beast.
i also also keep running playlists of favorite songs on spotify. some of those lists are organized by year and tend get additions after the fact. of course by now most people have their musical sourcing routines set, however, if you're so inclined to follow up, you can find them here.
there is a new addition over in the comics section.
savior is just a little one-pager to knock the rust off. these are all true stories....or as true as a pickled memory will allow. not sure if the friends i keep depicting have unfriended me or not yet.
for some reason, image quality on the comics page isn't as crisp as the sample here....weebly wasn't much help.
the strange parallels continue......in the sense that another literary journal has picked up another one of my rust belt series paintings. pickpocket will be featured early next year and i will be sure to share it when it happens....but in the meantime...in the strange saga of kid rock's bassist, aaron julison, he has taken the stage wearing a shirt with one my ancient drawings on it. to read the full story, see two entries below. but for now, here is the backstage pic. i think it's safe to say it was more about honoring my friend's late father than whatever crazy stuff i was drawing in high school.....but i'd be lying if i said i didn't enjoy such weird twists and turns in life.
seems like this is the time of year when a lot of things roll out....
to that end, i found out this week that thief in the throng will be featured in the upcoming fall publication of the sheepshead review, a journal of art and literature out of green bay. a perfect fireside read!
artist, former woxy loyalist.