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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Goldmine, Not The Music Collector's Magazine

Sid ViciousI couldn't believe it when I found this today! I went to a local used record store just to peruse and get ideas for pieces and happened to hit their fiscal year-end inventory clearance. Holy smokes! What a jackpot: Sex Pistols, Bob Marley, R.E.M., Hendrix, Outkast, Beastie Boys, Megadeth. Groups and albums I certainly hadn't expected to find. I was cackling with delight. By the way, this painting is not for sale. It's mine. I'm keepin' it.

I might do another one though, if you ask real nice-like. :)


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Religion Is Broken

John Lennon

I personally don't participate regularly in a traditional organized religion, so I might not be well-suited to discuss the topic, but I feel like I have something to say. Pardon my diversion from the usual topic of my artwork.

This might be more of an internal dialog I'm having with myself, so who knows, at the end I might truly care about the actuality of the facts behind religious teachings. Right now though, my question is why do people in organized religions to get so caught up in faulting the facts of other religions and fight to the death over them, when they generally look to their own religion as a source for lessons on how to live, not questioning or even really paying attention to the authenticity of the stories?

Human language, words, inherently lie in so much as they can't put the actual thoughts from my head into yours, only a representation of them. Religious texts are words. They are in general brilliant words chosen not for the *truth* of their content, but *for* their content. They convey abstract ideals. Through allegory, they codify ways to live well. Truly, most religions teach very similar ways. There are contextual differences due to the time and place the text was written, but the purpose, the intent is the same.

Why, then, has it come to matter so much what the words are, who said and wrote them? Why has the intent been largely lost? So much media focus is placed on archaelogical research proving or disproving events used to illustrate lessons in religious texts, making a mockery of the lesson. This feeds the distrust and hate felt by devout believers for people in every other religion. Maybe my internal head-fake is that the media actually would do well to recount the stories, teaching the lessons anew unreligiously. How do we teach morals secularly? Would we turn off the news if they added intent in their stories, ending each one with "and the moral is..."? We trust ancient religious texts to convey morals for some reason. Why? And why don't we trust apocryphal texts?

This is why I don't like the categorization of people. Race, sex, and religion are used to exclude. We're all human, all deserve to be included in humanity, but by categorizing and basing actions on those categories, we're really denying the humanity of people by comparison. "My religion is better than yours because its lessons are true and good, and the stories you listen to aren't factually true so your lessons can't be right."

Maybe though, if we turn over moral conveyance from ancient texts to currently living people, stories would come alive. We're taught human nature is good in religious texts. So let it be. Let people be free to listen to their conscience. Let people be the perfect creation of God that they already are. Let people love instead of teaching them to hate. Let people accept fear and find tolerance of that which they don't understand. Take away the power of fear by undemonizing it and hate will cease. People will accept themselves, others, and Life, and love.

Even in teaching love, religions exclude and qualify. They teach to love others even though. Even though what? Even though they believe in the same lesson, just use a different story to convey it? Just love. We are all individuals, we are all Life. When categorizing humanity stops, when "you're wrong" is replaced with "your intent is good", when stories of the ancient and recent past serve purely as a means to teach rather than as the end to be hallowed, when people listen, then there can be

ON CONSIGNMENT - John Lennon 06/25/08

Keeping It Fresh

Dylan and Zeppelin - (i) inspired by photos by Jerry Schatzberg and Mick GoldThey're hardly old hat. Yes, I've painted both of these a bunch of times. They aren't getting old or boring, or easier. Robert Plant is dang hard to paint. I'm not sure why, but I think I keep missing capturing him by a hair. Hey, maybe it's his hair. Blond curly backlit hair certainly is a challenge.

But I did switch it up for fun: putting Dylan on the left of the record and swapping Page and Plant. Oh so exciting!

I do love painting the iconic musicians because they're the ones that when people see them in the store the subject matter gets recognized right away and then the people can more quickly get to "Now what the heck is that?"

So Dylan is going to Raw Style in Santa Monica, CA and Zeppelin is going to Wild About Music in Austin, TX.


ON CONSIGNMENT - Bob Dylan 06/25/08

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Details Are Hazy

Elmore James

It was quite difficult to find a good photograph of Elmore James. All were small and fairly grainy. When that's the case, my painting ends up with less refinement. Not worse, just less detail. Makes for a slightly stylized if not sometimes more dramatic portrait. Still can capture the likeness and spirit though, I hope.

This is the third and final piece I'm sending to the Alabama Blues Project silent auction. Check out their site and if you're going to be around Tuscaloosa on September 5th, maybe check out the event itself!


DONATED - Elmore James 06/24/08

3, 2, 1... How Can There *Be* Zero Of Something, If There *Aren't* Any?

Conor Oberst

3 C's - This is Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes painted on side C of "Cassadaga". It was happenstance that the 'C' on the label fit in the eye of 'C'onor on 'C'assadaga. Kinda cool.

2 sold - This piece is a commission for the organizer of the Florida Music Festival 2008 Rock Walk. She sent me back my unsold pieces as well. Two out the seven I sent sold: Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. Pretty good for an art show at a music festival, I think.

1 to give - I've got one more piece to do for the Alabama Blues Project. I'll show that to you later on today, hopefully. It'll be of Elmore James (hard to find records by the early bluesmen, that's for sure).


SOLD - Conor Oberst 06/24/08

Monday, June 23, 2008

Consignment Crazy

Willie NelsonWillie's going to Wild About Music since they sold the last one I sent. They also sold Zeppelin and ZZ Top! Raw Style sold Dylan and Primitive Kool is putting on a School of Rock show at the end of August. So I've gotta get cracking!

Also coming up is the Waxploitation show. I'm starting to get some visitors who've searched for it. So the poster is ready just in time! Hope they get a good turn out.


SOLD - Willie Nelson 06/23/08

Think Off-center

George Carlin
Awhile back, I posted a list of the funny people who helped shape my sense of humor. Carlin was number one on that list not because he was the first to come to mind (of course not), but because his philosophical observations about humanity occasionally rivalled those of Lao Tzu. In my opinion anyway.

Here's a list of some gems.

At least his death reminded me of his Life.

Rest In

George Carlin 06/23/08

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Am I Finished Yet?

Jonathan DavisI've talked before about editing creative endeavors after completion, but when is the piece done in the first place?

When I don't want to let it go.

Jonathan Davis of KoRn is for the son of a dear friend of my wife. Fortunately for me, the album "Follow The Leader" is a double album, so I get to keep one the records. Yet, it's still hard to part with my work. It is, after all, a part of me, my creation. Not quite like a child as some artists dramatically claim, but maybe like that in a small way. Each piece represents a collection of moments of my life, also pulling together the creation of the music, the production of the vinyl, the moment of the photographer and subject, and even the publishing and discovery of the photograph. A lot had to happen to lead to what you see above.

So it, as your time and attention are, is precious.

Thus, my passion for what I do and why. The young man who will be surprised to receive this piece has a tattoo of the album cover on his back. A tattoo. That's the purpose of my art, and at the same time, that's why, when the piece is done, the moment captured, it's hard to set it free.


SOLD - Jonathan Davis 06/19/08

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Being In The Now, On The Way To Then

Bonnie Raitt

To all the artists out there, it's hard isn't it?

It's hard to discipline oneself to stick with it. Your own schedule, your own goals, your own temptations and distractions.

Mine's currently family. Not a bad thing at all. So it's even harder.

So, how do we balance short term pleasure with long term success? It's a rather good deep question that just came to me this very moment. And I thought I had nothing to say a minute ago.

I have a lot of eastern philosophy in my brain, the whole "being in the now" thing. This isn't a license to do whatever feels good, but it does lead me to go with the flow maybe a little too much. As a teenager, cross eastern philosophy with existentialism. Boy that was fun. But now I have responsibilities to myself and others, and to my art, and to you. So I might've swung too far the other way now, with an endpoint of workaholism. Hmm...

So do I go swimming with my neices? I did paint one already today...


DONATED - Bonnie Raitt 06/18/08

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Do You Want From Me?

Afrika Bambaataa

Let the tweaking begin. Now that I've overhauled my website and modified my blog template to match, my obsessive perfectionist tendencies are making me itchy.

It's about you though. By "you" I mean those who have found me, discovered what I do, maybe bought one or told a friend, and continue to be interested in what I have to show and say. I need your help.

What could I do to make it even better for you?

As this blog serves partly as a journal for me, this is a question directed at myself first. I'm generally my worst critic (aren't we all?).

But if you can beat me at that, I might just have to give you something for your trouble.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Actually Giving

B.B. King - (i) inspired by photo by Bob Guthridge

[EDIT - 09/24/09: I received an email from Bob Guthridge, the photographer of the photo from which I drew inspiration for these pieces. He's asked that I credit him and supply his email address:]

Getting involved feels good. Getting asked to get involved feels even better!

For the Alabama Blues Project silent auction: B.B. King.

I wish more charitable organizations would follow this approach of getting people involved. People like stories. "I actually got to help build a house for a homeless family in New Orleans!" They like connecting with those they're helping in a more meaningful way than just sending in an annual check. "I actually bought a goat for a family and get correspondence from the little one taking care of the new source of food!" My wife and I were thrilled to get to pick out a book to go into a new library for kids supported by a charity. Thrilled because instead of getting to the register at Borders to be fed a line like, "Would you like to add a $1 to your cost to donate to ..." we were entreated to pick any book from the store to buy and have set aside to actually get put on a shelf for kids to read. "Some kids are going to get to read 'The Giving Tree' because we bought the actual book for them!"

We ended up spending way more on the book for the kids than the one we were getting for ourselves.



DONATED - B.B. King 06/16/08

Friday, June 13, 2008

Revolutionary Revelation

John Lennon on The Beatles' White Album - (i) inspired by photo by Astrid Kirchherr

It's up! It's live! It's... well it's there anyway. The new site, I mean.


So, I thought I'd take this auspicious occasion (two words that always look weird to me, by the way) to share something that is the stuff of urban legends. As far as I know, only a high school friend of mine and myself know. But I bet it shows up on YouTube now!

It's that big. Way bigger than my artwork or me. It's no less than a cultural cosmic revelation, if you ask me. Well, who knows. I'm sure some people'll dismiss it. But I think it's incredible.

I've not discussed it with anybody but my wife. So why now?


Just thought you'd like to know. And if Michael wants me to give him credit, I will for sure. He figured it out and then told me a couple years later I could share it. He was going to write an Ebook about it, but to my knowledge never did.

So what is it?

Ok, here goes. It's well known even in mainstream culture that Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon" can be considered a second soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. It's been dubbed Dark Side of The Rainbow, even getting a well documented entry in Wikipedia. But the album ends before the end of the movie. It ends during the introduction of the Tin Man. That leaves a lot of movie left.

What other album could rival the importance of Dark Side in its own right and possibly synchronize with the rest of the movie?

*cue drum roll*

The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

At the end of Dark Side, pause the movie. It's right about when Tin Man has started to move. Start Pepper and resume the movie. The best part is during "Being For The Benefit Mr. Kite", but throughout the album, there are scene changes that match with song changes and many cues that when added up seem more than coincidence.

I wasn't even on anything and I was laughing quite maniacally. Try it.

I send this information out into the world naively, hoping it won't be used for evil. Don't really think it can be, but you never know.

Now, Pepper doesn't reach the end of the movie either. What comes after it?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good And Bad Blues: What Else Is New?

Chuck D of Public EnemyDid this one of The Commissioner for Waxploitation today despite a three-way family trauma yesterday involving a hernia, car wreck, and job loss. What a roller coaster Life is, huh? All are ok, thankfully.

The one cool thing that happened was a request for a donation of my work to a silent auction for "An Evening of Art & Blues" put on by the Alabama Blues Project. So exciting, the first time an organization has sought me out!

Almost have my redesigned main site ready! Maybe tomorrow, we'll see.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Yours Take It

Steven Tyler of AerosmithLove that huge mouth of his. Aerosmith was one of the first heavier rock bands I got into as a teen when I started collecting vinyl. I loved the classic rock stations in Los Angeles and "Sweet Emotion" was one of my many favorites. This portrait of Steven Tyler is on "Toys In The Attic" with that song on side 2.

I did this piece for It's Yours Take It in Boston this summer. I got a kick out of sending 3 pieces to the Free Art Seattle Exhibition, which has its second installment soon too. I thought I'd participate in this global idea again. Check out the Flickr group if you want to join in too.

Nick hasn't set a date for it yet, but if you're around Harvard Square one hot day and see a bunch of art, make an artist happy and give a piece a home.


GIFTED - Steven Tyler 06/10/08

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Era Vs. Genre: Are You With It?

Tupac ShakurI was trying to figure out who to paint for the Waxploitation: Lost in Transit show happening at the Hip-Hop Theater Festival on Monday, July 7th. More and more, it seems people are suggesting artists from the 70's: Peter Frampton, New York Dolls, Lee "Scratch" Perry...

I know I'm a child of the 80's. I grew up listening to Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Talking Heads, Culture Club, Eurythmics, Twisted Sister, and Devo. But before you say, "You poor thing!", the sometimes outlandish music that was pop in that era did leave me very open to other music as my taste developed. What I mean is, that even though the radio hits were of questionable musical worth occassionally in and of themselves, the language of the music of that time has had a lasting and valid impact on both my musical sensibility and what has come after the aftermath of disco.

Languages always fascinate me, whether they be spoken, played, or painted. As a result of what happened to the language of American pop music during the 80's, I've ended up responding to progressive rock, heavy metal, electronica, hip-hop... you name it. If I think about it, the only type of music that kind of missed being included in my internal musical library is country pop, mostly because country wasn't really pop then. It's cool to see how the culture you grew up in has affected you.

So then, when I started to explore less mainstream music, what I liked ended up fitting somehow into that weird mashup of genres as they were in that era. This isn't to say that my initial musical framework didn't change. As I developed and changed, my individual taste changed. But everything was consciously or unconsciously compared to what I'd heard as a pre-teen. If "That sounds like..." had an answer that I knew I liked, I'd listen more. If not, I wasn't ready for that music.

I think era can influence genre and vice versa. What's popular during an era, what defines it when we look back on it, influences genres of music as artists seek to fit in to the mainstream. They also stay true to their roots though, so each unique artist and those that can be grouped as a genre influence what is created during an era. This creates what we end up using to define the era.

I think this makes sense. I don't know if it means anything. It's just something that came to mind when I realized that I have several Eminem CDs today while I still don't have The Beastie Boys first album or anything by Public Enemy. Put another way, I have a special place in my heart for Michael's "Beat It", but I don't even know the name of the song by that dancing guy, what's-his-name, that all the girls love today.

What is your music, your culture?


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Respectful And Clear

Your time means a lot to me. It's precious and I want you to be happy with how you've spent it. I know I need to give you something precious in return.

So I want you to be happy beyond the time you spend with me. I hope thinking about music you love, music that defines your culture, makes you happy. I hope sharing and spreading that love makes you happy. I know what I create will do both.

Many arrive at my main site and quickly disappear. I know not to expect a lot of visitors to stay for long, and a good number do look at the gallery page at least, but I feel like I'm failing. I'm failing to make you happy, to help you see what I have for you.

I'll try harder to make it easier.

Peace. Thanks for giving so much, Seth.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How Would You Choose To Choose?

Louis ArmstrongCommission or consignment?

The Elvis Presley I painted was a very successful gift from the Mississippi plantation owner to his son-in-law. Satchmo is for himself. He's going to put it on display somehow at their gift shop!

But this brings up the question I've gotten a lot: "How do we sell more?"

Galleries would tend to say consignment because their clients usually expect to be able walk out with the piece they specifically want. It's quite exclusive to be able to have a gallery owner make a special request of a represented artist as it means the supply isn't limited and prices won't stay as high unless it's a rare occurrence.

Boutique shops might say commission because it saves them on display space and storage, and they don't usually convey to customers that supply is limited to what they see. Also, because they sell mostly gifts, getting to sell custom items is a plus because people like the personal touch.

Each choice, though, has a different impact on the potential purchaser.

Consignment implies that these are all there are and it's up to the artist to choose the subject matter, so it's rare. Yet at the same time it makes it easier for the client to choose if they or someone they know loves the subject matter of one of the currently available pieces. They don't have to think about the subject matter, only who would want it. Also, they can see what they're actually buying. However it excludes potentially passionate people who would go crazy if they could just get the singer _____.

Commission gives them that opportunity and still makes it special because it's just for them, even though supply isn't limited. But it requires the client go on faith that a special order will receive as much attention as one display example and match its quality. It also forces them to think of the best choice of subject matter for their friend _____. Although, people like choice and like feeling included.

This has led me to ask places to have a good selection of pieces on display of suitable favorites and to alert interested patrons that custom pieces are also available. This gives customers enough examples to demonstrate quality and consistency as well as letting them walk out with one if they know someone who loves the usual suspects. It also gives them the opportunity to feel special receiving their own unique creation to enjoy or give away.

I've set up my gallery page the same way.

So, how would you choose to choose?


SOLD - Louis Armstrong 06/02/08