Category Archives: Upcoming Events

Making A Better Yesterday Today

If you haven’t seen me in a while it’s because I’ve been in “art jail” working on pieces for my show, which opens this Saturday. (See helpful info below.)  Please come on over to the show and say hi, I’m kinda starving for human contact after all my time toiling away in hermitude!

Meanwhile, here’s a few fun facts:

1) In this show is the largest painting I’ve done in about 20 years.  (This says a lot more about the usual size of my work — kinda on the small side — than the enormity of this piece.  Still, I’m pretty amped about it.)

“Abduction of the Simian Women” oil on wood, 36 x 36 inches

2) I don’t usually do prints, partly because the whole idea of prints on paper never really excited me very much.  This is probably why I tend to make things like jigsaw puzzles and porcelain collector’s plates instead.  But technology has finally caught up with my oddball quirks and for this show we are going to be offering ten, count ‘em ten different images as prints on wood.  This is ultra cool to me because I paint on wood panels, so, you know, it’s kinda perfect.  Plus they don’t need to be framed — they’re ready to hang right on the wall!

Only 53 shopping days till Christmas! Just sayin’…

3) It’s actually two shows in one! In a riff on the show’s title, there will be a room of “Today” (the new paintings) and “Yesterday” (a curated selection of past favorites).  I love this.

“Get Your Hero On” oil on wood, 25 x 20 inches

4) I’m still obsessed with Batman and Catwoman.

“Cloud Nine” oil on wood, 19 x 16 inches

5) We did something really nifty — if you have a smartphone with a QR (Quick Response) Reader App, you can listen to me yap a bit about each of the new paintings.  Just scan the code on the wall by each piece and you’ll hear real actual thoughts that came out of my real actual head via my mouth.  (If you search ‘QR Reader’ in the App store there are several free apps that you can download to your phone, any of which will read the code and link you to an image specific audio clip.)

6) I’ve hidden a pineapple somewhere in every painting.  Okay that’s not even a tiny bit true. But I’ll think about it for the next show.  Maybe.

So please come and say hello –

Making A Better Yesterday Today,” Opening Party on Saturday, November 3rd, 6-9pm, Varnish Fine Art, 16 Jessie St., San Francisco, CA

And if you can’t make it, you can scope it all out virtually right here.

Aw Nutz!

Ok yes that was me standing at the window yesterday with a slingshot, firing wine corks at a squirrel.  To be clear A) I was aiming over his furry little head, B) I never hit him, C) I totally dig squirrels, D) I totally dig my figs too, and E) completely un-phased by the barrage of corks sailing over his noggin, he sat just out of reach and calmly ate a fig to taunt me.

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I know I don’t stand a chance against these characters — they’ve been around forever.  Have you seen the prehistoric saber-toothed squirrel?

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No wait, that’s not the right one… this one!

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Hang on, that’s not right either — that is an actual Protosciurus or “first squirrel” from the fossil beds in Oregon, but it’s not much to look at.  I was actually thinking about these toothy little buggers, the Saber-toothed squirrels who lived in Argentina 220 million years ago.

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Take the figs!  Take all the figs you want!  Truth be told, even though they keep calling it a “saber-toothed squirrel” apparently it’s not actually a squirrel. (Just as well.)  Lest you be in danger of having any squirrel nightmares, gaze at this for a moment…

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Ah, all better now.  My own ode to squirrel coolness, “Nutz,” will be on display at “Awakened,” a show curated by Alix Sloan and on view at AFA Gallery in NYC.  It started out a bit like this –

And ended up like this –

The show opens Sept. 20th and a portion of every sale goes to Adopt-A-Pet in support of their mission to find loving homes for homeless pets.  There’s a great roster of artists involved with this show, including a live auction of hard to find prints, and you can read all about it right here.

“Awakened”, AFA Gallery, opening Sept. 20th 5-8pm, 54 Greene St. in Soho, NYC. Because a large turnout is expected, please RSVP to rsvp@afanyc.com if you think you’ll be dropping by.

Bird Is The Werd

Depending on who you listen to this is either a man’s world (James Brown), or girls we run this mutha (Beyonce). This is what was trickling through my mind when Tara McPherson asked me to contribute to the second Tiny Trifecta show at her Brooklyn gallery, Cotton Candy Machine.  So while I’ve feathered some paint around honoring some of my male musical favorites…

“It’s Like That” oil on wood panel, 11 x 14

… this time I decided to honor the ladies and this fine flock of females appeared in my sketchbook.

But who are those birds? Up at the top we have Da Brat, (Shawntee Harris) who was discovered after winning a rap contest on Yo! MTV Raps in the early 90′s, and went on to become the first female rapper to go platinum with her album Funkdafied.

She was promoted as kind of a girl version of Snoop Doggy Dog but she rolls pretty hard (convictions for assault, misdemeanor conduct). This bird is flying free again now.

“Da Brat”, watercolor on Medioevalis paper, 8 x 6 inches (framed)


Dana Elaine Owens picked the name Latifah out of an Islamic name book when she was eight, but though the name meant “delicate” she went on to be a power forward on her high school basketball team, and put her out her album “All Hail the Queen” when she was just nineteen.

Queen Latifah went from rapper to actress, where she’s racked up a couple Golden Globes, a Grammy, and nominations for an Emmy and Oscar. She’s owned that whole regal queen thing from the beginning.

“Latifah” watercolor on Medioevalis paper, 8 x 6 inches (framed)


I saved my favorite lady rapper for last. Melisssa Arnette “Missy” Elliot — she’s got everything going on, songs I can never shake out of my head and terrifically wacky music videos.

The only female rapper to go platinum six times, I don’t even know how to pick a favorite song. She’s done pretty well for a girl who grew up in a “vermin infested shack.”

“Missy” watercolor on Medioevalis paper, 8 x 6 inches (framed)


All this goodness and much, much more is currently on display at Cotton Candy Machine‘s exhibit “Tiny Trifecta”, in which over 80 artists have each contributed three pieces, all of which are for sale for a mere $100 each. (Yes you read that right.) The Wall Street Journal was kind enough to write the show up (read it right here), and with artists like Eric White, Josh Keyes, Natalia Fabia, Doze, James Jean and a host of others, it’s easy to see why. Shows like this are great because they allow people without deep pockets to become art collectors, and I think buying art is sort of an addictive process — once you do it, you start looking at art a little differently, maybe a bit more acquisitively. I’ve had some collectors who’ve grown with me over the years, starting when we were basically still students and continuing the relationship as we all became a little more “solvent.” It’s a great thing. Buy art, people!

Tiny Trifecta runs at Cotton Candy Machine thru August 5th, so trot on over to 235 South 1st Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Time to get back to work!

Musings On A Muse

Meet my current muse, the rubber monster finger puppet…

(There are actually too many funny caption ideas for this shot, I couldn't make up my mind...)

I’ve been looking for excuses to paint more hands ever since I did the original “Redivivus” series as a way of exploring the Frankenstein story. (Redivivus means “to come back to life”.) I liked the challenge both of paintings hands (beautiful but tricky) and the idea of creating a portrait that didn’t include a face, or even a body. What kind of tales could I tell with only a disembodied hand that had a cheeky habit of getting loose in the laboratory and going off on various adventures?

Out of this idea was born these four paintings, culminating in the hand eventually finding true love…

"Redivivus (Bitten)" oil on wood panel


"Redivivus (The Secret)" oil on wood panel


"Redivivus (Lucky 7)" oil on wood panel


"Redivivus (The Poet)" oil on wood panel


"Love Is Blind" oil on wood panel

Simply put: I love hands. I really do. I’m fascinated by looking them, apparently I fling mine around quite a lot when I talk, and I always check them out in other people’s art. When I was at the Louvre in October I ended up snapping over fifty pictures just of the hands in various old master paintings…

So when I was asked to do something for the “Taetrum & Dulce” (Creepy & Cute) show at MondoPop Gallery in Rome, Italy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the hand and see what it might have been up to. Originally I was going to paint it meeting a little mouse (who would bring the “cute” to the “creepy”), but I needed a stand-in for my reference, so I grabbed this little monster finger puppet and sewed an antique iron key into his rubbery arms with some red thread (otherwise he simply would not hold it properly). Why a key? Because they’re nifty symbols of knowledge, mystery, and curiosity.

But somewhere along the way, as is often the case with art and muses, I realized I didn’t want it to be a mouse anymore. I had kind of fallen in love with the little guy, which is when I decided to wave a magic wand over him like the Blue Fairy in “Pinocchio” and make him a real little monster with proper legs and feet, and let him be the star of the story.

"Redivivus (Ambush)" oil on wood panel


"Redivuvus (Playmate)" oil on wood panel

Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance.” — Edgar Degas

The show opens next month in Rome, if you happen to be out that way check it out — many fab artists including Nouar, Tiffany Liu, Jana Brike, Edward Robin Coronel, Richard Frost, Buddy Nestor, Charlie Immer, Jason D’Aquino, Macsorro, Jaw Cooper, Julian Callos, Jessica Ward, Apricot Mantle, Felipe Bedoya, Luis Lorenzana, Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy, Dan Barry, Diavù, Nicola Alessandrini, Allegra Corbo, Odö, Sebastien Nassiet Saldubehere aka Malojo, Cesko, Victor Castillo, Morg, Chris Mars, Isabel Samaras, Paola Sala, and Marco About.

“Taetrum & Dulce”
Opens Dec. 10, 2011
MondoPop Gallery
Via Dei Greci 30
Roma, Italy

http://www.mondopop.it

Bags Are The New Black

I mean the bags under my eyes. Just got back from Paris, unpacking to re-pack because I depart for LA tomorrow morning. Not sure if this makes me Jet Set or just jet lagged.

Getting used to living out of a bag, and yup, that's a ukulele case in the background.

But if you are in the LA area or have any of your digits on the pulse of the Pop Surrealist/Lowbrow art world, then you already know that La Luz de Jesus Gallery is celebrating their big 25th anniversary with a BIG show (so immense they had to break it into two consecutive exhibits in October and November). You can get all the info and oggle the massive list of artists gathered up to honor Billy Shire and his gallery right here. It’s damn impressive.

The man behind it all, as captured by the brush of Shawn Barber.

There will also be a companion book available, so if you can’t make it to the show, bring the show to your living room! All the work from both tandem shows will be compiled in its pages, along with essays written by all the artists, and you can see a much better picture of my piece “It’s Like That” in the book.

See you in LA! (I’ll be the one snoozing in the corner.)

Cool Things That Came In The Mail

I get pretty excited when a delivery truck pulls up — you just never know what it’s gonna be!  (Vintage platform shoes? A cool book from a far flung friend? Chocolate?) In this case it was the new CD from Stones Throw Records:  “Madlib Medicine Show #11: Low Budget Hi Fi Music” by Madlib.  Not only is this thing brimming with ear-gratifying goodness — “one of the few beat-heads left that use the sampler as a musical instrument to further explore Hip Hop’s more ethereal sounds without sacrificing his L.A. street credibility” — it’s pretty easy on the eyes too.  (The CD booklet is stuffed with my artwork.) 

You can listen to some sample tracks and score a copy for your very own self from Stones Throw right here.

Who’s this Madlib anyway?  He’s a prolific and critically acclaimed hip hop producer who collaborated with a heap of hip hop artists including Erykah Badu, The Alkaholics, Mos Def, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, MF DOOM as Madvillain, and the late J DILLA as Jaylib. Madlib has described himself as a “DJ first, producer second, and MC last.” His projects range from blunted out heady beats, to club rap, electronic influenced soul funk and reggae.   He was asked to remix the Blue Note catalog, creating one of the most classic remix albums of all time:  Shades of Blue.

If you’re here in the SF Bay Area, lucky you!  ‘Cause you can come out and see Madlib TONIGHT at 10pm in a rare show with Robot Koch & Change the Beat.  Info here.  Not to be missed.

Fluffy

I love the feeling when a painting ships out, this giant “whoosh” of relief.  It’s slightly tinged with anxiety until you know it’s arrived safely at the other end, but even that can’t diminish the awesome flood of pleasure that comes from watching the truck drive away with your painting in it.

“Playboy Redux” is opening tonight at Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, and I wish I was there (but instead I’m here in the blazing sunshine eating toast with almond butter and nectarine preserves — clearly the glass is half full). The show is a tribute to the gorgeous, iconic Bunny girls who worked at the Playboy clubs, the first of which opened in Chicago 50 years ago.  A tasty roster of contemporary artists were all asked to reinterpret the iconic Bunny for the show, and I am tickled to be one of them.

When I mentioned this show to my old buddy Harley, he reminded me that I had drawn a Playboy bunny twenty years ago.  Back when we were both working at Franklin Furnace, we often doodled on the file folders — in this case, he drew a bunny head, and I finished it off with a body.  (Sometimes we even worked…)

I’ve been on a bit of a “bird and animal” kick for a while now (maybe you noticed) so I knew I wanted to work some actual bunnies into the piece. This is what I was thinking about -

And this is what I sketched out -

A friend in NY sent me an achingly cute picture of their new rabbit, Chestnut, but I didn’t have easy access to that model.  Fortunately my friend Dana came to the rescue.  Meet Marshmallow –

My adorable muse

Marshmallow’s flop-eared buddy bit me on the arm (twice!), so don’t ever tell me that I don’t suffer for my art!

Those of you in the Bay Area know we were experiencing one of our coldest summers yet, so my mind ran to fluffy, snowy landscapes, and this is what I ended up with -

The arrival of the Snow Bunny!

But as I’ve said before, it takes a village, so then it was off to see Randy at Back To The Picture to get The Perfect Frame made -

Then my buddy Island Boy took me to Bombay Ice Creamery for a celebratory scoop of Black Sesame on a sugar cone!

So we’re walking down Valencia Street (which is even more fabulous now that they’ve widened the sidewalks, it’s a real pedestrian’s paradise) and this guy said something as I walked past, which I tuned out.  Growing up with red hair I’ve learned to ignore most of what guys say when I’m walking down the street (because there’s not really much of a conversation to be pursued from stuff like “Hey, you got a red box too?”), but Island Boy looked at me with surprise “Did you hear what that guy said?”  This required me to stop eating ice cream for a minute so I could say “No, not really.”  “He said ‘I love your work!” That kinda blew my mind, so I backed up and sure enough, the guy was talking to me and knew who I was.  So that was a pretty nice moment, and he was a pretty nice guy.  Thanks for making my day, David.

Finished!

I meant to post these progress shots as I was going along but there’s only so many hours in the day and… I forgot.  But here’s a the continuing saga of the lovely “Beaver Boobs”…

Yes, come rain or shine… who am I kidding?  It’s California.  It was always sunny.  But sometimes is was chilly and sometimes hot…

The World Cup was a little bit distracting…

…but eventually I finished!

Many thanks to the gorgeous castee who donated her time and shapely form to this project.  This piece is now on it’s way to the Tiki Oasis 10 Anniversary Extravaganza in San Diego, the original “Tiki Weekender”,  a three day, non-stop, jam-packed celebration including the Keep-A-Breast art show organized by Baby Doe von Stroheim and featuring over 24 artists creating painted and multi-media breast casts. The proceeds go to The Keep-A-Breast Foundation. www.keep-a-breast.org. Go pick up a nice rack for yourself and support a good cause!

Tiger, Tiger…

Okay gang, as promised here are the pictures where you can actually see something (because they were shot by a professional instead of with my dinky little point-n-shoot).

"Burning Bright (Cuddle)" 8 x 10, oil on wood

(The sweet Beast. This painting is so small, this detail shot is probably about "actual size".)

"Burning Bright (Lick)" 8 x 10 inches, oil on wood

(Pretty close to "actual size" here too... itty bitty brushes, people!)

Come see these and all the other juicy good tigers at the opening this Friday night at Roq La Rue Gallery, 2312 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA.  I’ll be there so come say hi!   Artists: Audrey Kawasaki, Robert Hardgrave, Travis Louie, Lisa Petrucci, Isabel Samaras, Robert Burden, Jason D’Aquino, Nouar, Jim Blanchard, Angelique Houtcamp, Bob Dob, Anthony Ausgang, Ann-Marie Manker, Yumiko Kayukawa, Jaw Cooper, and more…

Pit Crew

I’m coming up for air after pulling a stretch in Hermit Mode — painting painting painting and staying up late (which inevitably leads to a big, bad case of the Walking Stoopids, where I plow into walls and can’t put a sentence together to save my life).  Whassitallabout?  I was toiling on a couple of sweet little paintings for the “Tiger Tiger Burning Bright” show at Roq La Rue in Seattle, opening this coming Friday, May 14th.  If you’re in the Seattle area, swing on by because I’m gonna be there and I’d love to see you!  (Yes, you.)

When I was scratching my head in that “what to paint?” phase, I was thinking about an interview I’d done recently with John Porter for Fangoria (if you missed it, you can read it right here).  He asked some great questions, including some that got me thinking about some of the more raunchy, erotic stuff I’ve done.  It reminded me that I have, at various times in my life, felt like it was important to me as a chick to put this kind of imagery out there, to help de-stigmatize it, but also do it with humor.  ‘Cause that’s how I roll — I like a little “ha ha” with my “ooh my!”  (And if you don’t like sex, erotica, whatever, that’s fine, you don’t need to write and tell me why I’m a big Abby Normal perv — save your energy and go look at some nice pictures of kittens, okay?)

So I decided to do something sort of sweet n’ saucy. I’d also just come back from NY and seen some really great little Tibetan miniature paintings at the Ruben Museum, which got me thinking about the more intimate relationship you can have with a small piece of art — something that isn’t all up in your face from across the room “look at me!”, rather something you had to get close to, have a private audience with, experience one-on-one. (These aren’t from the Ruben, I’m just impressed with the contortions.)

The other idea was that I wanted to work a little looser, like the Red Riding Hood triptych I did, because that’s fun too.  (That was the original idea anyway — I ended up getting so sucked into painting tiger fur n’ wotnot that I put in way more detail than I’d originally intended.  Hey, it happens.)

"Hide & Seek", "Embrace", "Trinity"

Did some sketches — I’d thought of doing three small pieces again, but I ended up just narrowing the “story” down to these two, and made them a little bigger than the “Red” ones….

And then paint, paint, paint.  Sometimes friends will call and chat me up while I’m working — top row I’m cracking up while  Michael Wertz is telling me all about Hankerchief Codes.  (I had no idea….)  Michael is a fantastic artist, and has illustrated some lovely childrens books.  That are not about hanky codes.  My friends are definitely part of my pit crew, very important to my mental health.

Then it’s off to the framer.  This part feels just as important to me as anything else I do with my work, the frame is like the final brush stroke.  And for over ten years now I’ve been putting my work into the capable and fabulous hands of Randy Figures at Back to the Picture on Valencia Street in San Francisco.  These guys are my pit crew, and I adore them.

Randy, yours truly, Oscar, and Servio (who's owned the shop for 28 years!)

We look at various styles…

And then we can get to work.  (Oscar builds the frames, I fit everything together and usually I’ll do the hardware too but I wanted to take pics this time, so I asked him to do it.  His wires are neater than mine — bonus!)

And here’s a little taste of the finished product, all framed up in super hot, phat black bamboo n’ gold filette.  This is just a tease — I know you can’t really see anything — for that you gotta come up to Seattle!  Just kidding — I’ll post nice, pro-shot pics tomorrow.