Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Entry

Bar Scenes

A few small paintings I did for this weekend:

6 X 8 oil on canvas board

Friday, September 21, 2007

J.C. Leyendecker at the Fullerton Museum Center

Drop what you are doing and go see this!!

Fullerton Museum Center
301 N. Pomona Ave.
Fullerton CA

Exhibition runs until Nov. 18th.

A traveling exhibition of 50 J.C. Leyendecker pieces is on display at the Fullerton Museum Center! The exhibition originated at Stockton's Haggin Museum last year. I was in the Bay Area for a friend's wedding and was fortunately able to convince my friend Dan to drive me all the way out to Stockton to see it. It may have been out of curiosity after hearing me rant and rave over the years about Leyendecker or it may have been self preservation (knowing that I would have begged, pleaded, poked and prodded or otherwise made myself enough of a nuisance so that it was just easier just to go to Stockton) but he drove me out there on New Years Eve day to see the work of one of my heroes on the very last day of the show (for which I will be forever grateful!). It was the first time Id seen his work in person and it is, of course, 1,000 times better than print.

One of my most cherished possessions is an out of print book of his work (J.C. Leyendecker by Michael Schau). I first saw Leyendecker's work in college. An instructor brought in a black and white xeroxed copy of the book. He offered to divvy up the xerox to any students who wanted it. No one came forward so I asked, and he gave me the whole notebook. It took me 10 years to find a copy of the real thing--in COLOR (thank god for Al Gore and his invention of the internet...).

Leyendecker preceded Norman Rockwell as illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post. He was an intensely private person so records of his personal life are virtually non-existent. Best known for his Saturday Evening Post covers, Leyendecker also created the "Arrow Collar Man" for Cluett, Peabody advertising. To give you an idea of how incredibly popular he and his illustrations were, in a single month during the early 1920's the firm received 17,000 fan letters that included marriage proposals for the "Arrow Collar Man". Think about it: a fictitious character received more fan mail than Rudolph Valentino
(this is according to Schau).

Legend has it that a young Rockwell would wait outside the station just to see Leyendecker get off the train. As an homage to Leyendecker (again, according to "legend"-- Rockwell fans dispute this), Rockwell stopped one short of Leyendecker's 322 covers.

For each cover, Leyendecker was paid somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000. I'm not sure what that translates to in today’s dollars but for the early 1900's he was extremely well paid. According to my history of Illustration instructor (I only remember this because I thought it was so funny), Leyendecker believed he should spend more than he made: being hungry is good-- it keeps you from being lazy. By the time he died in the 50s, he was broke and all his fans had forgotten him (ouch!). His work was auctioned off, given away or otherwise disbursed to the winds.

Which is why, I think, he is so criminally unrecognized as one of the most phenomenal draughtsman/illustrator/ artists of the 20th century. And why its so incredible to see a collection of his work. So incredible that you should drop what you are doing and go see this show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


still have bits and pieces to clean up

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Huell Howser at Art Loft 205

Huell Howser filmed a show highlighting the Claremont Packing House and spoke with the folks at Art Loft 205. The show aired on Friday and will be re-broadcast tonight (Sunday). I missed the Friday airing but rumor has it my work can be seen behind curator Michael Knott during the interview (I got a message from the gallery today with the news). I think the show airs at 6 on PBS.... let me know if you see it!

OK, I'll out myself: I don't have a TV so I'll just have to rely on someone else to watch it and/or tape it for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An L.A. Day

I met Jose Luis this morning at Self Help Graphics. From the get go I was struck by how far away from the corporate world I am. After staying up most of the night painting, I was typically slow this morning and didn’t leave my house until 10:20. I was supposed to meet him at 10:30. Even on a good traffic day it takes more than 10 minutes to get from my house to East L.A. I called him to apologize and tell him I was late, forgetting that I was meeting another artist. He was in Elysian Park picking up some equipment and not ready to leave yet. Phew!

Turns out they were filming a documentary on Self Help Graphics. Not only did I get to meet some of the artists there, I got a crash course on linoleum prints, monoprints, and got to see some of the collaborative pieces they were putting together for an up coming show. All very cool.

In hindsight, it seems inevitable that I would jump in and help on the shooting. And I really did try very hard to keep my mouth shut and just plug in cables, make sure nobody tripped over anything... fill in whatever holes were left open but you know... its me so.... I gave some tiny little suggestions on camera angles and then um.. maybe one or two art direction type suggestions. Shocking you say?! Well it gets worse...

Alex (with a Russian sounding last name that admittedly I cant remember and wouldn’t be able to spell even if I did...) was being interviewed for the current show he had curated: a commemoration of the founder, Sister Karen and a remembrance on the 10-year anniversary of her death. He didn’t feel too comfortable talking to the camera so I sat down in front of the camera (out of view) so he could have a human face to talk to. Well... I kind of got very engrossed in what he was talking about and sort of kind of forgot where I was and to my horror ... asked a question (ever open your mouth and realize as the words are coming out that maybe just maybe you shouldn’t be asking questions when someone you really don’t know all that well is FILMING?! but the microphone had already picked up my voice and there was nothing left to do but make an "oh crap I’m SO sorry" face and finish the question and then quickly look up at Jose Luis who was standing above me with the camera and hope that he wasn’t about to knock me senseless). I admit that I was out of line and it definitely was not my place but it did spark an interesting conversation that Ophelia (another artist) joined in on so hopefully I didn’t ruin anything. I don’t think I did because they invited me back. Besides, no one suggested duct tape to keep my mouth shut (I take that as a good sign) and when Ophelia was interviewed Jose Luis encouraged me to participate.

In both interviews, Ophelia and Alex were brought to tears talking about Sister Karen. If I had to boil it down to the essence I think the thing this woman gave them that still touches them so deeply today is hope. A simple thing that is so easy to underestimate yet powerful enough to elicit that response ten years after her death. She believed in them as human beings and as artists and devoted her life to encouraging their work and ensuring they had a safe place to express themselves.

Afterwards, Jose Luis took me to his favorite street vendor for freshly made blue corn quesadillas filled with a mushroom that grows on corn (again-- I don’t remember the name...) with a side of cactus and Mexican soft drinks. Another very L.A. experience sharing a meal with random people on the street. I loved it!

Finally, I got shanghaied into going to an L.A. city commissioners meeting on Olvera St. This is where I had major flashbacks of the worst Disney production meetings. The point of this part of the agenda was to approve the project to save a Siqueiros mural. They did that within the first 3 minutes (it should be noted that this project has been on the table for 6-7 years). Then they debated whether or not to add a paragraph thanking the people who volunteered their expertise in crafting the proposal. At issue was the wording: should we call them "volunteers" (some felt that word minimized their contribution) or "contractors" (but they weren’t paid and "Contractor" implies pay and is this ethical?....) or maybe "volunteer contractors". As they spent an excruciatingly long time discussing the thank you paragraph, I checked my voice mail and email, surfed the web a bit on my phone, googled the commissioners, day-dreamed, possibly took a nap, and came up with a pretty good plan for world peace. Wish I could remember what that was....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Street Musician

This is a 30 X 40" rough lay in of my next piece. I do plan on giving him feet--never fear...

My Neighbor just dropped by with a friend of his who is extrordinarily dialed into the Latino art scene here in LA. He rattled off about 15 - 20 artists of which I knew of exactly one. In my defense-- while it is very possible I flat out dont know of these artists, it is also quite possible that I do in fact know their work and yet my brain cells simply refuse to cooperate by putting 2 and 2 together. I blame it on the paint fumes if that is the case... that and Ive never been good at recalling names.

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting him to see a show at the Self Help Graphics Gallery before it gets taken down. Im going to get edjumacated on the history of Latino Art in LA. I am very very excited about this! I love it when random people drop by my house!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Almost done with this one!

Soooo Close. Its that last 10% that takes up so much time....