Archive for February 2012
I Just completed this illustration for an article entitled Jim Allison’s Long and Winding Road which will appear in the upcoming issue of UC Berkeley’s California Magazine.
To cut a long, and extremely scientific story short, the aforementioned Mr Allison, the subject of both article and illustration, discovered a protein called CTLA-4 in his Berkeley lab way back in 1993. This protein attaches to T cells and acts as a brake for the immune systems, something that seemed to be of little interest to the majority of the scientific community at the time. But because he is a very smart man Jim understood the significance of this discovery, and went on to develop an antibody to the protein – a drug to block its action. His theory being that if the new drug did its job, it would free up the immune system to identify and attack cancerous cells, even those that have resisted chemotherapy.
Unfortunately for Jim this new drug then had to enter clinical trials – which went on and on and on and…well you get the picture. The good news is that after 15 years and clinical trials involving 6,500 patients the drug is finally available to treat melanoma. And it offers a completely different approach to cancer treatment that has been proving extremely effective.
All which makes for a fascinating tale, but was bit tricky to translate into in an interesting illustrated portrait. Luckily for me there was a ‘human angle’. Because as well as being a scientific super-hero, Jim was also a South Texan, harmonica playing, country music aficionado.
And so the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Blues was born.
As a resident of San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood for the last 13 years I’m delighted to announce I’ll be taking part in the first ever Inner Sunset Art Crawl tonight, Friday February 17th, from 6pm until around 10 pm. I was lucky enough to get the Arizmendi Bakery on 9th Avenue between Irving & Judah, as my venue, so I’m going to be showing 13 drawings and calling it ‘Baker’s Dozen‘, because that’s the kind of smart arse I am.
All 13 pieces in the Crawl show are from a series of Apology Drawings that I’ve been working on over the last few months, you can see them all here. This is an ongoing series of small mixed media drawings. Each one is an imagined apology combined with a pencil portrait drawn from found pictures of people I’ve never met.
Although I’ve lived in the USA for the last 16 years I’m originally British, which means I come from a place where everyone constantly aplogises for everything, and I live in a place where no one ever apologizes for anything. This series has come about as a result of that experience. The pieces are also intended to explore the capability of a short, contextless phrase to insinuate a variety of larger and more complex narratives in the perception of the beholder.
Okay, that’s enough of the art-justification guff. The real point is that the whole Art Crawl thing should probably be a laugh – there’s a lot going on including music, an outdoor showing of The Wizard Of OZ movie and let’s not forget it’s also Beer Week here in San Francisco. I’ll be lurking in the vicinity, hopefully clutching a pint of strong ale.
If you’re not there I’ll expect an apology.
I think the drawings will be on show in Arizmendi until Monday 20th, by the way.
I have a bunch of artworks appearing in an exhibition at the Westergasfabriek Museum in Amsterdam called ‘A Perfect Day’. My fellow exhibitors are an illustrious bunch indeed, including artistic and cultural luminaries like Raymond Pettibon, Chris Johanson, Dave Eggers, David Shrigley, Richard Prince, Simon Evans, Royal Art Lodge, Leonard Cohen and Rene Magritte (yes, THAT Rene Magritte).
The exhibition is described as ‘a collection of drawings with text, featuring observations, thoughts and ideas about life. Funny, clever, poetic, ironic and hilarious.’ The show is actually a continuation of a highly successful exhibition called ‘Lots of Things Like This‘ that took place in 2008 in New York. The original exhibit being curated by Dave Eggers, author of ‘What’s the What’ and founder of the publishing house McSweeney’s. The show also resulted in the publication of the bestselling and influential art book ‘More Things Like This’ by Chronicle in 2009.
As someone who’s been making art out of a combination of pictures and text for many years it’s especially gratifying to be included in this show, alongside so many terrific artists. Maybe it’s finally time for ‘pictures with words on them’ to take center stage in The Artworld. To quote Jesse Nathan: ‘Now more than ever you can see anywhere in the world an art form consisting of images and text and, above all, humor. Today you see writers, cartoonists, graffiti artists, poets, songwriters, film makers and artists around the world working with these elements. It is an accessible, contemporary form of communication, with a quick easy universal language, but as intimate as a sketch on a napkin.’
If you find yourself in Amsterdam it’ll be worth a look, here’s the details:
A Perfect Day – 10-24 February 2012
Westergasfabriek (Openbare Verlichting)
Pazzanistraat 27, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Monday-Wednesday, Friday 11 am – 5 pm.
Thursday 10 am- 9 pm
Saturday, Sunday 11 am – 11 pm.
Admission: €5 (with discount €2,50)