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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Do You Book A Photograph?

Edgar Allen Poe - (i) inspired by photo by WS Hartshorn

I mean photograph a book. It's hard to position! The drawing's not totally done. Poe's got a lot of crazy hair. But here's my second go at Liter(art)ure, my favorite author on the page before my favorite story, "The Fall Of The House Of Usher". All of his works are amazing to me. I love dense writing. I love having to reread paragraphs sometimes five times. Especially when the stories told are so captivating both because of their content and their words.

I have a love/hate relationship with words. Always have. I walked before I talked. I like listening more than speaking. I like instrumental music more than lyrics. And yet I know them quite well, and can manipulate them to my liking usually. Thank my parents and my schooling, I suppose. Well no, thank me, because I committed myself to "doing school" and burnt myself out after six years at UCLA in the hardest science major in the College of Letters and Science. I liked reading Schrodinger and Nietzsche for crissakes.

Anyway, outside school I mostly focussed on visual art, whether it be drawing nude models or watching movies like "Kafka" or "Hudson Hawk". So creating these portraits of authors I love over their words must reveal something about me. Don't know what. Don't really care. But I still like the concept after executing (almost) two, so I'm excited. My eyes are blurry, my wrist hurts, but I'm excited.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Love Is Not Capital

Freddie Mercury
Larger-than-life performers like Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury often live personal lives with few close "true" friends. They sacrifice their own happiness to give it to those for whom they perform in what Hunter S. Thompson called "The Curse of Fame". Mercury was quoted as saying, "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man."

The outpouring of love from fans of MJ since his death last week is our way of giving back to his soul, wherever it may be. It's a recognition of how much we take from public figures. Love cannot be paid like money, it cannot be capitalized upon. It is a different form of communication altogether.

Love is unlimited in space and time, unlimited in amount, and unlimited in power and action. I just don't get why our society is so caught up in accounting, in keeping track of who owes us what. It sucks souls. It alienates individuals. It polarizes groups. It squashes passion.

I just wish there was a way for humanity to focus more on giving love than taking capital from those who choose to share their creativity and passion with the world.


SOLD - Freddie Mercury 06/29/09

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sometimes You Just Know

Jerry Garcia - (i) inspired by photo by Tom Hagerty in 1979 Last year, I got one real entry for my contest. And it was a real good one. This is a post of my thoughts about it with a shot of the winner's Jerry hanging in his home and link to his entry. This year, I've gotten great entries so far, with 5 days to go. I'm humbled by the submissions and honored that you've taken the time and attention to share your stories.

When I saw the photo of Jerry I drew inspiration from for the piece above, I just knew it would make a great piece of Vinyl Art...

... I'm sorry, what?

I. What? A shudder, you know, the bad tingly feeling going down your spine out to your fingers, just hit me. I just saw the news. I'm typing slowly, forced to by the tears welling up.

The 50 year old child is gone.

I had a weird sickening feeling earlier today as I waited for my wife to have lunch with me. Wasn't sure why.

Now I know.

Rest In Peace, Michael.
Jerry Garcia 06/25/09

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Didn't Your Mother Teach You Not To Draw In Books?

Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I did it. I actually did it. I drew in a book. I think it might be the first time I've ever marked in a book, that I can remember. I even dog-eared textbooks in college with hesitation.

See, my mom has volunteered for the local Pacific Palisades library for about as long as I could read, helping run the used book sales since I was probably in middle school. I joined in as the muscle, moving boxes until college. I've always loved books. My parents saw to that, reading me Goodnight Moon from the getgo. I did the Summer reading programs and competed with my best friend to read the most. Besides records, books took up the most boxes when I moved to Arizona.

Books, both the content and the physical things, might mean more to me than records. Words were so important to me growing up as an intellectual overachiever. I kept the vocabulary pages from Reader's Digest. My mom and I would listen to vocabulary tapes in the car all the time. I love Poe the most, if that means anything.

So I had the idea to pay tribute to authors the way I pay tribute to musicians. But it meant defacing books! Well, I finally got up the gumption to try it. Of course it had to be Hunter, my wife's and Jason's favorite author. I knew it was time when we watched the Gonzo documentary and in it I saw the photograph I drew inspiration from for this piece.

I call it Liter(art)ure. Well, my wife did. I like the name. So I'm using it. I drew this portrait in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" on the page with the famous passage about the wave. It's still readable, along with the rest of the book. I did the drawing using the technique I'd learned way back in high school, with the same pen in fact. My old rapidograph still worked, amazingly.

Hunter S. Thompson in progress
So amazingly, I might do more.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Man's Treasure

David Lynch - (i) inspired by photo by David Lynch
He signed it! As my contest draws to a close at the end of the month, at the beginning of which I first showed you this piece, I received my painting back from Mr. Lynch, signed and ready to be framed and sent to his foundation.

Hopefully this will become someone's treasured possession, acquired at auction for a good cause. Right now this is my biggest hope, that I can bring in funds for various charities with my art. Those who get my newsletter know of one coming up in the Fall. (If you want my newsletter, just shoot me an email.)

From the very beginning, when I started thinking big with promoting my Vinyl Art, I of course had my Oprah fantasy. Mine was to somehow give a painting of Bono, tinted red, to Oprah, have Bono autograph the record on the show, and then auction it off for (red). It hasn't happened yet, but I still have the painting.

This unexpected connection with David Lynch has got me goofy. He is seriously one of my favorite auteur directors ever, and to get to help him out is amazing. We'll see what can come of it!


Monday, June 22, 2009

One Man's Trash

The BeatlesI'm so excited I got to do this!

These records were beat, man. A couple had been shoved into the sleeves along with other Beatles records. This is why I love being able to do what I do. A friend had saved the other couple from the leftovers of a neighbor's garage sale, destined for the landfill. Beatles records. Nobody who didn't want to piss off their dads by playing crappy records on his fancy hi-fi would've played these, but they're Beatles records!

This is what I've been waiting to be able to do with my unframed pieces since I started clear-coating them. After painting and clear-coating these 4, I glued them together with Super Glue. I'm hoping I get to do other groups like Led Zeppelin this way, but I don't run across records without sleeves very often. The albums I get with sleeves, I'll normally do framed and won't throw the sleeves away just because. So I need your help. I need commissions of these.

Now, last week I said that the price for unframed single ones will go up to $150 at the end of the month, when my contest is over (which, by the way, only has 24 entries thus far). At that point I will begin offering pieces like this one of the Beatles for 10% less per portrait, plus shipping. So this one would be $540 instead of $600 individually. (I've got to find out what shipping will be, but it won't be too bad.)

I want to do them that much. I'm basically paying you to let me do a whole group and arrange the portraits myself. Plus, you'd only need 2 nails to hold up all 4 records :)!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Cost: Memory, Love?

Ringo I love these 3 images and this one of John. When I realized I had 4 Beatles records without sleeves from various sources, all with the rainbow Capitol label, I got excited to try something I've wanted to for awhile. I'll show you next week when I finish.

But first I need to tell you that I'm going to stop offering my pieces unframed for only $100 shipped. The price will be good on commissions requested before the end of this month, but then that's it. I've struggled with this decision since I started offering the pieces unframed at all, over a year ago.

Pricing in general is a tough one for me, not the fact that I make money from my art, but setting them so my work is accessible to even starving college students with the right priorities. I know my work has value, but what that value is eludes me. I started out selling framed pieces locally for $55 (the price of that Johnny Cash at auction currently) and raised them only when I realized that I needed to do so if I ever was going to be able to support our family eventually with my art. Even then, I've had people pay me more than I've asked at least twice and many people give me confounded looks when I tell them how much.

The thing is though, I feel comfortable with the $175 plus shipping price point for framed pieces. It feels good when anybody says "yes, I'll buy one". I don't want to raise that price unless I have so much work and I've already been able to hire my wife as my assistant, meaning when she can quit her job. I'll offer special things, like what I'm going to do with these unframed Beatles, that'll be at different, higher prices, but the standard piece, framed in front of the album sleeve will hopefully stay the same. When I do have that much work, I think I'll increase the price only when someone wants time priority placed on their piece.

But I don't feel good about the $100 shipped for the unframed. I feel a bit bad, like I'm going to be telling people not to buy my work by raising the price, but I don't want to hesitate when someone says they want it unframed instead of framed.

So, they're going up to $150. I feel like the quality and consistency of my work is worth that. Hopefully you'll feel your wall space, or someone else's, is worth that as well.

I don't know how else to value my connection to music, to art, to memory, to family & friends, to humanity. Do you?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Now I'm Not Saying I'm Robin Hood

Marvin Gaye - (i) inspired by photo by James HendinMy friend Rodney is having a hard go of it these days. "Soul-crushing" he says.

My friend Robert isn't doing great. Already on disability, he was foreclosed on and had to move. And he's going blind in his other eye.

The randomness of real Life, eh?

This is why I feel SO lucky to be alive and to be able to do what I do. I get to bring joy, to give love, to share passion. My art may simply hang on a wall or lean on a ledge, but make no mistake, it DOES something. I thank Life, G'od, for using me, for allowing me, for guiding me to serve in the way I do.

Besides creating the pieces, I also work my butt off trying to help others do what they do as I can. Being connected means I occasionally can reach the right people, and they can reach me. This Johnny Cash is now up for auction for 4 more days. Help Civia and Musicians On Call, through Country Music Television, help people recovering in hospitals with the power of music. It's only $55 framed as of the writing of this post, a steal for a good cause.

You have to take to give.


Poetry: Rhythm Or Rhyme?

Bob Dylan - (i) inspired by photo by Jerry Schatzberg

Yesterday I realized the significance of the development and functioning of our ears before our eyes in the womb.

Today, does what words mean really matter? For a long time I'd been hung up on words, their individual meanings in and out of context. For awhile I didn't want to talk at all because I couldn't resolve meanings and their reality.

Words don't have reality. They are language, as money and art are. Everything we learn in school is language, how to communicate humanity to other humans. It's the rhythm of humanity that matters, not its rhyme. Certainly not its reason.

Poetry, not just of words, for me is the flow of Life, the river that is always moving and always there. Individual notes, words, whatever matter not in and of themselves. It's how they connect with those around them.

Rhyme is internal, selfish, controlled. Rhythm is free, shared, felt. From the heartbeat we hear first as we enter the river of Life, we listen to that rhythm, constantly seeking to be included in it and differentiated from it. It is rhythm that grounds us, makes us human.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Seeing Faces Is Instinct, Hearing Music Is Primal

John Lennon - (i) inspired by photo by Richard Avedon

As our baby develops inside my wife, eyes are sealed shut while ears begin to function.

We hear before we see.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Why DID I Buy Hugh's Book?

Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod w/ my receipt

Fear of exclusion from the conversation.

No, that's negative.

Desire to be included, to belong, to be human.

That's more like it.

I've known Hugh's book would be out for quite awhile. I'd read the original blog posts that turned into the book. I'd received the PDF copy of that initial version from a friend on Twitter.

But a funny feeling came over me when I knew they were actually available in the Barnes & Noble down the street. That "I have to have it" feeling. You know?

Sure, I could justify buying it because Seth told me it was different from the previous versions of the content, but it wasn't that. In truth, it wasn't the content of the book driving my emotion. It was the social content of the object itself.

I subscribe to Hugh's newsletter, one of very few things to which I've given my permission to push content to me. It's Hugh's story that is so captivating for me, his Life. Whatever he creates, the biz card doodles, the moleskine drawings, the wine promotion, the corporate marketing, it's his story and the way he tells it through his communication, his humanity that gets me. I don't really know why, and it doesn't really matter. But I feel actually lucky to be a part of his conversation with the Universe.

I actually got a little endorphine rush seeing 2 copies of the book on the shelf in the business leadership section. I almost bought both, so I could give one away.

I'll certainly read it and probably post a bit about the content, but I wanted to share this part of my conversation with the Universe with you.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Straight From The Crate - Vinyl Art Show

SHOPAROONI kindly directs your attention to

presented by Keith Corcoran
June 26 - July 26
Opening reception June 26, 7-10pm

Once again, NYC transplant and general Cleveland do-gooder Keith Corcoran brings together 33 1/3 of the hottest artists on record with his latest curatorial endeavor STRAIGHT FROM THE CRATE.

Using old vinyl records originally destined for the trash as their canvas, the participating artists have created a diverse collection of traditional and contemporary art.

This show runs from June 26 through July 26 at the very hip Shoparooni Gallery Annex in Cleveland's Waterloo Arts District and features artists from Cleveland, LA, NY, Arizona and Australia.

In an effort to take some of the mystery out of art buying, this show, unlike others, will be "cash-and-carry," meaning if you see something you like, you can take your new-favorite-artwork home with you that night, straight off the wall!

"The overall goal of the show," says curator Keith Corcoran, "is to put high-quality one-of-a-kind artwork in the hands of the average citizen at a price that won't break the bank."

I've sent Keith 3 pieces: Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and David Bowie. If you follow the link above to the show's blog, you can check out links to the other artists. The styles are really varied. Should be a cool show!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Art And Money Are The Same *GASP*

Elton John - (i) inspired by photo by Bob Gruen
My friend Prince just tweeted this, an academic paper abstract discussing art and money. It says there is no inherent conflict with artists making money, with commerce in art.


I was worried. The "starving artist" image still persists, but I've never gotten it. I thought maybe I was backwards.

Maybe I'm lucky because what I create has as its purpose human connection. It's hard in today's world, especially in capitalism, to connect without the sordid topic of coin coming into play. But it's all about stories, languages. Money is just talking. So is art. Why would they conflict?

The key for us all is to remember it's about people, about humanity, about culture, about creativity. How we connect is fundamentally unimportant, invisible in fact, if we communicate effectively and efficiently. A painting by Van Gogh still says what it always has, but people perceive it differently. Owning stock in a company still says what it always has, really, but people perceive it differently as well.

Think about it. What is the difference between taking your Life, working, earning money, and going and buying a taco & taking your Life, working, painting records, and going and buying a taco? Art and money are the medium for communicating one's humanity.

The rub, I think, happens when commerce is allowed to commoditize, flatten, and homogenize creativity. The fix is to re-humanize our economy, remember people. All of them. All of them involved in creating everything we have in this Universe. At its core, it's all expression, unfoldment of Life. It's all connected, with ripples of communication spreading, reflecting across humanity.

What do you think the current global economic upheaval is about? Right. Art.


SOLD - Elton John 06/11/09

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life Online

I just read a post by Trent Reznor on his NIN site basically about backing away from social media and life online in general. See, he's in love. So cool. It's great to be able to see into other people's bubbles.

What's awesome is that he's just a guy. A guy like you and me, living his Life. That's what's so cool about this new direct connection between creators and consumers. I strike up a conversation online with Jason and then he ends up commissioning this Bono for his wife for their anniversary. No middleman, no service provider other than the mostly invisible network provider and Twitter. Just Jason and I.

I think what's happening is sort of the re-humanization of money, capitalism, commercialism, consumerism, and production. We get to see Pres. Obama eating a burger, looking at art. Yes it's a buzzword, but transparency is truly a good thing.

I know I pay more attention now to checkers at stores. I think more about the workers at the factory that made the crap I'm buying. I think more about the farmers and the people who made the machines that feed me. I feel connected to people through stuff. Not isolated by that stuff.

Hugh MacLeod just got his brilliance published, in the system, at Border's. You can buy it on Amazon for your Kindle. Cool. Even cooler is that I have a connection with him, personally, online. It is real, true.

For someone basically just starting out, just reaching out to find his audience, the ability to connect directly, genuinely is amazing. One can develop a friendship with someone in Chicago or Canada just as easily as around the corner. That friendship can involve commerce just as easily, without establishing the traditional salesman/customer relationship that essentially isn't real. One can truly connect with humanity, with creativity, with culture. One can have those connections with fans who are friends and friends who are fans, people who come to care.

You realize, I'm talking about me and you.


SOLD - Bono 06/10/09

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's Not Painted, Played

Charlie ParkerIf it were all notes and no air, it wouldn't be jazz.


SOLD - Charlie Parker 06/09/09

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Reveal In Reverse

Bruce Springsteen - (i) inspired by photo by David Gahr
I've been doing my Twitpic real-time cell phone pictures for about a month. It looks like around 10-20 people check'em out each time and a few people have commented and shared the pics with their followers, adding a caption. Sweet.

Here're the final shots of the pieces I thought worked the best so far: - John Lennon - Isaac Hayes - Bradley Nowell - Billie Holiday - Alice Cooper - Sammy Davis Jr. - Neil Young

You can go backwards from those to see the faces disappear.

Kinda cool.


Bruce Springsteen 06/03/09

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tom Waits' One Red Eye

Like trying to lay down a track with a jackhammer outside, a loud record label usually distracts, detracts from a piece. It's hard to look away from a bright red dot in the middle of the sky.

So I put it in the middle of his eye.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Thanks Be

David Bowie

Ray Bradbury John Lennon Gandhi The Grassy Knoll Mark Twain Bernini Noguchi Mark Waldman Robert Heinlein Mr. Layton Jimmy Connors Tricky Bill Augustine Bob Marley DaVinci Warhol Rothko Novros Bob Dylan Thomas Jefferson Airplane HST Bill Murray Johnny Depp Benicio Del Toro Poe Bach Hugh McLeod Mona Brookes Ed Buttwinick Jonathan Bickart Jason Clift Kurt Cobain Van Gogh Emil Nolde Aldous Huxley Jim Morrison George Segal Franz Kline Jim Jarmusch David Lynch Tank Girl Peter Gabriel Penderecki Future Sound Of London Alan Watts Hesse Chris Guillebeau Groucho Marx Faith No More Robert Altman Homicide: Life On The Streets Get Smart Picasso Nick Drake Shannon Hoon Sam Watterson Douglas Adams The Coen Brothers John Turturro Chuck Pahalniuk Mussorgsky Glenn Gould Brad Pitt Cary Grant CSN&Y The Beatles Eminem Kafka DJ Shadow Autechre Miles Davis Trent Reznor Will Farrell The Verve Beck Gnarls Barkley Philip Glass Steve Reich Mitch Hedburg Bill Cosby George Carlin Michael&Wendy Edlen


Where Are You, Hunter?

It's a fucking joke. "Candle in the Wind", Christ. What a twisted fuck, mocking his own death before it happens.

Better image would be the explosion of a bullet from one of his myriad of guns stretched out over the span of his years. Or the flames pissing out of a lighter fluid bottle over the distance.

Where are you, Hunter? Not you the man, the ashes smoldering around Owl Farm, but YOU, the raw, the angst-ridden, the truth, the savior of these United States of America. In earnest, YOU are ME, are WE. YOU are down there, buried below ever piling loads of shit; glossy, plasticy propanganda puked out in sound bytes and article subtitles and podcasts, whatever the fuck those are. Where are YOU!!!! WE need to dig YOU out, free YOU from Vegas, explode YOU out of a peyote button to burn down this farce.

This farce of transparency, of authenticity, of total access, of behind-the-scenes, of reality. YOU ARE ME!!! WE are Hunter. WE have to be! WE have to, individually and as the unholy mob, dig out of this shit. Media today should be US, not them, not the Fourth Estate. WE still mindlessly drone on, regurgitating their puked up tripe. Vietnam and Cambodia? Look at Afghanistan and Iraq. Fuck.

Hunter the man did indeed give up, give out. But maybe his self-martyrdom could actually serve the Hunter in US, forcing US to find him, to save him. So HE can save US! There's your fucking authentic giving. Selfless patriotism, not blind peevish sheepery. Serve truth, not people. Give to the Constitution, not the asses and elephants.

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Maybe it's MY fault. Of course it's MY fault. I am everybody, I AM HUNTER!!!!!

Where am I? Who the fuck are YOU?