I have a solo show of new work opening at the fabulous Compound Gallery, 1167 65th Street, Oakland, CA this Saturday, January 30th, 6-9 pm. In a desperate attempt to promote the event I printed a whole bunch of these obscenity laced Yard Sale posters on the Compound’s letterpress, and plastered them all over Oakland and San Francisco. Don’t know it it’ll have any effect but it certainly was fun to do. The posters direct you to pointlessyardsale.com, which in itself is fairly pointless, but redirects to the Compound’s exhibition page.
By the way, the exhibition is helpfully titled “We Wish That We Were What We Once Were, Back When We Wanted To Be What We Are Now”. All the new work is up on my website now, and is available for purchase here.
Even if you don’t stumble across a poster, I hope you can make it along to the show. It promises to be a remarkable spectacle.
What the hell happened to 2015?
It managed to both arrive and depart without the production of a single blog post from this indolent reprobate.
Is it too late to make up for this lackadaisical approach to communication? Probably. Nevertheless, here’s my misguided attempt to make up for my lamentable lack of updates.
Okay, so lets start in October. It’s as good a month as any. And it was the month that saw the creation and launch of the above limited edition bronze. This was definitely the year’s most awesome project, embarked upon with the help and expertise of the good folks at The Compound Gallery in Oakland. Entitled ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ it’s a handsome bronze skull that sits proudly atop it’s very own sturdy maple plinth, complete with laser etched profanity. Each and every part of this edition of 13 was hand finished by me at great personal risk and considerable discomfort. And, most astounding of all, every one of the 13 pieces was sold in exactly 13 days. (Well, one disappeared into a mysterious void in the Australian postal system, but that’s neither here nor there, like the piece itself.)
Earlier, in September, I also took part in a group show at the aforementioned Compound Gallery.
It was a boxing themed affair entitled “Knockout”, and I my contribution was the oddly shaped mixed media piece above. If you’re wondering about the unusual dimensions, I chose them after a great deal of contemplation and consideration because the wood panel was heftily reduced in price in the art store.
Aside from all the Compound related activity, 2015 also saw me start to show work regularly at The Dove Biscuit gallery in Los Angeles, which is located downtown, inside The Last Bookstore. The work available there is mostly my letterpress prints, plus a few smaller mixed media pieces. If you’re in the LA area it’s definitely worth a visit, not, I hasten to add, because of my work, but because it’s a totally cool old building stuffed full of new and used books and records for sale at bargain prices.
Speaking of books, July saw my humble contribution to international art publishing. This took the shape of 14 pages inside this lavish volume which goes by the imaginative title ‘Artist Notebook’. Unsurprisingly it’s a collection of artist’s notebooks.
It’s publushed by Monsa, in Spain and is available for a mere €25,90 right here. And if you’re wondering, the inside looks bit like this:
Okay I can tell by the glazed look in your eyes, and your incessant yawning, that you’re getting bored with all this dreary rambling. I think we both knew it wasn’t a great idea, so let me wrap it up quickly for both our sakes. Here’s something interesting – it’s that fucking gorilla again.
Yes it made another fucking appearance. This time in the form of a fully-fledged theater performance, complete with paying audience, at the Toronto Fringe Festival. That’s in Canada, people. Which is cool. And this time I supplied the original artwork for the posters. Which was also cool.
Finally, as is traditional in these sparse and sporadic blog posts I’d like to end with an apology, accompanied by an excuse. But first some visual evidence:
Yes, dear reader, that is my wrist. To be more specific that is my right wrist. The wrist I use to draw, paint, type this very blog and complete sundry other less glamorous tasks. This delightful snapshot was taken in the Emergency Room of a San Francisco hospital back in March, after my bicycle and I were involved in an unpleasant altercation with an automobile. Thankfully after the surgical insertion of about eight inches of titanium and several weeks spent in a variety of casts, everything was restored to full functionality. And, on an uncharacteristically optimistic note, it gave me a chance to practice drawing left handed.
Anyway, as you probably guessed by now, I was planning to blame the utter lack of activity here on the results of this regrettable incident, but the fact is, it’s really just down to idleness and inertia, so I won’t insult your intelligence.
As usual I offer a half-hearted pledge to update this nonsense more frequently, if only to avoid having to create another of these appalling anthologies in the future. However, if you are misguided enough to want to keep up to date with my artistic activities I’d suggest following me on some other social media minefields, which I actually do update regularly. These include Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter and, of course my very own kingdom on the internets, which goes by my name with .com on the end.
Happy New Year, I hope 2016 will be everything you wish it to be.
And thank you for your continued tolerance.
What follows, dear reader, is a strange and cautionary tale. A true story in which we will attempt to examine the inexplicable appeal of the apparently random combination of gorillas and gratuitous profanity.
Our story begins with this drawing, created by my own fair hand on the back of an envelope and glued into a notebook, way back in June 2006. (Obviously you can ignore the poorly rendered fire extinguisher, and concentrate on the image on right hand page.)
Actually I’ve just remembered that, in actual fact our tale truly begins with a scribbled note in an entirely different journal, one which I sadly can’t find right now. The note said something like: “Draw a gorilla with those lines around it that make things look like things are vibrating”. I sometimes make notes like this in a misguided attempt to remind myself of things that I think will be cool to draw. I realize that most other artists would probably just do a skillful but lightening fast sketch to be referred to and improved upon later, but I write words instead. It’s what I do– judge me if you want. More often than not I’ll immediately forget about these scribbled notes and that’ll be the end of the matter, but for some reason in this case I didn’t. I actually drew the gorilla, complete with the ‘vibrating lines’ which proved to be unsatisfactory, and then I added the non sequitur you see above. I have no idea where that phrase actually came from. It simply plopped into my head after I had drawn the gorilla, and then scribbled colored pencil around it in an attempt to assuage the disappointment I felt when the whole ‘vibrating lines’ thing failed to live up to my hopes and dreams. Eventually I posted the above image to my Flickr page and found the response was both immediate, and alarmingly positive. I even got a request to purchase the drawing, (presumably be ripped out of the notebook in which it resided). In the end I actually created another version and sold that one. What was interesting though, was the way people responded- the enjoyment this apparently random concoction of words and images gave to otherwise rational people.
A little less than a year later I was preparing for a solo show at a gallery in San Francisco and decided to turn the notebook image into the small mixed media on canvas painting you see below.
As soon as the show went up the gorilla sold immediately and at the opening several people told me they wished that they had bought it, and asked me to let hem know if I ever created another version, or made a print of the same subject. The print thing eventually happened, after a fashion, when I posted it to my Society 6 page in 2010, and made it available in a variety of formats. And while I wasn’t exactly able to retire on the proceeds it did sell pretty well.
After I joined the Compound Gallery & Studios in 2012 I started to make my own letterpress prints in small editions and, of course, I inevitably thought of the Fucking Gorilla. I did another version of the drawing and had a photopolymer plate made up, and the result was a series of letterpress prints that look a lot like this…
Once again the unique combination of ape and vulgarity proved popular, with prints being dispatched as far afield as Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, as well as several US destinations.
But our tale doesn’t end here. No. In fact it just get more bizarre. Because at around this same time I received an unsolicited email from a perviously unknown Canadian named Tia McGregor, informing me that she had written and staged a play based on the gorilla piece. The title of the play was, not surprisingly, “You And That Fucking Gorilla”, and it had its debut at Victoria University in Victoria, British Columbia. Although I sadly didn’t get to witness a performance I did read the script and, I have to tell you, to my untrained eye it was pretty damn good. I realize that this all sounds highly unlikely, so as irrefutable evidence that I’m not just making stuff up, here are a couple of shots of the production, complete with gorilla, who appears to meet a tragic end.
So there we have it– the evolution of Gratuitous Simian Profanity from scribbled note to stage production. None of which actually helps us understand the appeal of this particular combination of words and pictures. Perhaps the whole thing was best summed up by a visitor to The Compound who purchased one of the gorilla prints. She revealed that she was actually a gorilla researcher who spends her days working with the beasts, and one of her friends had emailed her the image, presumably because she shared the sentiment expressed. Her pertinent observation was “why would anyone else appreciate this?”.
Okay people, I know there had been a continuation of the shameful lack of regular posting, but I swear from now on I’ll be trying oh-so-hard to get my act together and give you sufficient warning of all upcoming exciting and important events.
So, lets kick off 2014 with the timely announcement that I will be taking part in a three person show at the awesome Compound Gallery in Oakland. The show is entitled Things That Happened and Things We Made Up, and my fellow artists are the magnificently talented Alison Tharp, and the equally superb Liam Golden. It is an honor indeed to be hanging on the same walls as these two, and it should be a very interesting, provocative and entertaining show. I plan on having around 15 new pieces on the walls, including some new paintings. I’ll be posting a few little tasters in various places over the coming weeks.
The Grand Opening Shenanigan will be on Saturday February 8th, from 6-9 pm, and the exhibition will be hanging until Sunday March 3rd. On that very day, at 3p.m., there will be a Closing Tea and something called an Artists Panel, which I haven’t actually had explained to me yet, but probably will involve me mumbling incoherently in front of a handful of people who only really want free tea. Anyway, it is my fervent hope that you, dear reader, will find the time and inclination to visit this breathtaking spectacle. Perhaps I will even be lucky enough to see you there.
In Other News:
That esteemed, Berkeley based, magazine of the arts, Works and Conversations recently published an interview with Yours Truly in their latest issue, No 27. You can get you hands on a copy right here, or you can save your money and get instant gratification by reading the whole interview on their website, right here. (Obviously paying for the magazine is preferable since the money goes to an excellent cause, and you get large reproductions of several of my pieces in the magazine itself, but far be it from me to stand in moral judgement over your decisions.)
However if you feel the need for guilt-free downloads that feature my bewildered scribblings then point your little pointy digital thing right here, and download a pdf of the latest issue (Number 14) of the truly excellent Composite Magazine. This is the Reprobates issue, and it features several bits and pieces of mine, all reproduced in glorious digital color, plus a ton of other awesome artwork. Highly recommended!
Strictly speaking this show is actually “Hands & Pants 4” , Hands & Pants being John’s collaborative drawing venture, which now involves more than 70 of his artist buddies. Basically the mighty Mr Casey draws some hands and pants, in his simple pen-and-ink style on 8″x10″ Bristol paper, and then he sends his drawing to an invited artist (me, in this case). The artist is then asked to complete the figure in any way they see fit.
And this is how I saw fit.
You can see how everyone else saw fit right here.
Okay I admit it, this is a very late post. I don’t know why I find it so hard to update this blog when I regularly update my Tumblr and Flickr pages. I have some kind of mental block about WordPress. However, based on the principal that Late is better than Never, heres the NEWS.
Of most immediate importance is the fact that I have a solo exhibition of all of my Apology Drawings on right now at The Compound Gallery in Oakland, CA. I’m afraid the opening reception has come and gone, but the gallery is open Thursday – Sunday 12 noon to 6 pm, and the show is on until Sunday June 9th. This is also the date of The Closing Tea, where I’ll be delivering what has optimistically been labeled an ‘Artist Talk’. And, if you can’t make that, you can watch the whole debacle streaming LIVE on The Compound Gallery website. You can even send in awkward questions, in real time, for me to ignore.
If you can’t wait till then to get answers to your many questions you might find they have already been answered in this interview about the show which appeared on Jeremyriad.com. There’s even a little Vine video of me in action.
I sincerely hope you can make along to the show, but if your impressively hectic schedule doesn’t allow it, you can still buy a little Apology of your own right now at the Compound Online Shop. I’ve also produced a couple of limited runs of Apology letter press prints which are for sale at a very reasonable prices at the show, and probably a bit later online.
Not only that but visitors are welcome to leave their own contribution on the fabulously interactive Apology Wall.
I’m sorry, but how can you resist this?
I recently completed a fairly magnificent portrait of someone who eats at a Taco Bell somewhere in Ohio so often that they became the ‘Mayor’ of that Taco Bell on Four Square. It was quite possibly my finest moment.
Taco Bell just posted a YouTube video of the subject being presented with her likeness as part of her Very Special Day. And here, for your edification, is a remarkable screenshot of that very moment.