In the last three months I’ve started on what will be the bulk of a
series of paintings on the band Uncle Tupelo for a show at the University City Library in April titled “Graveyard Shift”. The
paintings and show have been a long time coming in what’s
been an evolving set of circumstances that started over a
year ago in 2013. Way back then, Iowa artist Karl Haglund
and myself daydreamed about having a joint show at some
point in the future and brainstormed on what that show could
consist of. After many emails back and forth, we settled on
Uncle Tupelo. We both had our own reasons for that subject and
it seemed like nice common ground for us to meet on. Unfortunately,
for many more reasons, that show never happened. Karl did,
however, show a series of great paintings based on St. Louis guitar
players this past Oct at KDHX titled “Fifteen Keys”, but the
titled was the only reference to Uncle Tupelo.
I was stalled for a long time because of lack of images to paint. Sure
I could have gone online and googled a bunch of UT pictures but
that really didn’t interest me. I wanted images that weren’t well
known or even published. Photos from people who were actually
there and experienced what was happening. But that was proving
hard to find, at least for me. Eventually, though, slowly but surely,
I started to acquire beautiful photographs from various people
who were either there or actually took the photo themselves.
This includes two incredible black and white photographs,
one of the original trio playing what appears to be a cramped
show at the infamous Cicero’s basement venue circa 1990
and another of the band, along with Brian Henneman (from The Bottle Rockets) sitting in the well-worn upstairs apartment
the band rented in Belleville, IL.
Another trio of photos came from the last show UT played which
was at Mississippi Nights on May 1, 1994. The photographer
snapped 3 photos before being ordered by security to cut it out
or the film would be confiscated. No more photos were taken,
but these 3 are really incredible and have never been seen by the
public at large. These images along with three other paintings I
had already started of the cover art of the first three UT albums
will make up all the pieces for the show.
In addition to these paintings, Steve Pick will write an essay
(for lack of a better word) to go along with the exhibit. The essay
won’t exactly be about Uncle Tupelo, though that will be main
premise, but more about what it was like to be around during that
time. To watch a band form, develop, play live shows, gain a following,
tour, recording, etc. Try and help put things in context for those, like
myself, who were not around to experience it. In short, he’ll offer much
needed perspective on what a rare and exciting thing this was.
As you can see there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on
these pieces. I only have 3 months left to complete them.
The other night Jay Farrar played an acoustic solo show at the Old Rock House. It was a tremendous performance full of newer, older and classic songs. I was lucky enough to be up front snapping a few pictures to work from for a painting. The piece has already gone through some dramatic changes and I anticipate many more to come. It's been difficult lately to organize and collect thoughts, outside influences have preoccupied my mind. For the last three days I've been working on this piece while listening to the newly released Basement Tapes and I'll continue to do so.
The last 8 months involved very intense, concentrated time painting. I thought once that was completed I would take a break for a bit but just as soon as I thought that, other things ramped up, good things. A couple new businesses in town invited me to display work in their space. The Tick Tock Tavern, a new bar on Magnolia, asked about some portraits I had done of historic figures like Eleanor Roosevelt, Lee Harvey Oswald and Albert Einstein. These portraits are somewhat characters done on paper outlined with black paint. Nicely framed and now hanging in their hallway that connects them with Steve's Hot Dogs. The Music Record Shop, a new record store on Manchester in the Grove, inquired about some paintings I'd done of St. Louis musicians, past and present. A week before their grand opening, I spent four hours hanging 20 something paintings on their bare walls. These paintings were just sitting in my studio collecting dust but now their on display for customer's to see. Very grateful to those two businesses for giving me some space on their walls.
Then some group shows popped up. With the first two being on the same date. Saturday Nov 8. ChoiceArt will be holding their annual fund raiser at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, a cause I very much believe in and I'm honored to have donated a painting for this event. On the same night, City of Night St. Louis is holding a group art show at the ever popular William A Kerr Foundation. This show will feature many St. Louis artists and I'm very excited to be a part of it. Another event in December for Poetry Scores also came up involving The Screwed Arts Collective, so staying busy on all those fronts.
Have also been completing many commissions that have come my way recently, like the one pictured above. It's always a nice boost to have people interested in your work and to have you do a special piece for them or as a gift they plan on giving someone. So you keep on going and staying busy, which is the best thing to do anyway. All the while gearing up for painting new pieces for a show in April at the University City Library.
Very grateful to be spending my time thinking about and painting pictures in St. Louis, MO.
At the beginning of this year I was
contacted by Melinda Cooper, musician extraordinaire, about artwork for a
CD her band was working on. The band she’s in, Town Cars, was in the
process of completing recording sessions and she was interested
in having some paintings included in the CD packaging. I had known
Melinda for some time, first meeting her when another band she’s in,
Union Electric, opened for Theodore at the Old Rock House. For that
particular show Melinda was playing drums. As far as
I knew she was a bass player but apparently their regular drummer was
unavailable so she moved to drums and they had a guest,
Celia Shackattack, play bass. I
had seen Union Electric many times and wasn’t sure what to expect. I
was blown away by Melinda and her drumming. Over the next few years,
when I would see her perform it was always on bass again, and
she’s an amazing bass player as well. Then during a special event at
Off Broadway, “Label Day” for Tower Groove Records, I got to see a side
project of hers called Town Cars. She was playing acoustic guitar and
had a drummer plus a keyboard player. Again,
I was blown away by her singing and playing. At that point I was
convinced she can do anything musically. So when she contacted me about
possibility of using paintings for the CD packing of the new Town Cars
album, I was all for it.
We talked about what she had in mind
and worked out a deal. She sent me photos she had taken of her rehearsal
space and I based the paintings off of those photographs. To keep
things interesting, I used small canvases and painted in oil.
Normally I use acrylic but wanted to mix things up a bit and do these
pieces in oil. I did four pieces in all and was very happy with how they
turned out. Three of the pieces were used through the packaging of the
CD and the whole thing turned out great, the
best part being the tunes, of course. Seriously, the songs on the CD
are truly great and Melinda continues to amaze me with her abilities and
talents. The thing I love most about these songs are the melodies,
tremendous melodies and counter melodies throughout
A CD listening and release party for
the CD, titled “Hearts and Stars”, has been slated for Saturday Oct 11
at the newly opened Tick Tock Tavern on Magnolia St. In addition to
hearing and getting a copy of the CD, the four paintings I
did for Melinda will be on display at the party. The CD is being
released through Extension Chord Records.
Started this back in February and have worked on it pretty much daily, if I wasn't out of town and still working on it today. A painting can go on forever, the point is to never finish it so it has the chance to grow on it's own. When all options and avenues have been exhausted then it drivels up and dies. How and when a painting is completed is up to each and every viewer, if this component is lost or taken away, then the painting is dead. These are the things I've been thinking about while working on it day after day while listening to a never ending cascade of Rock and Roll music. All of that requires Time, lots of Time. Time is occasionally a road block then it turns around and becomes a booster. It's constantly shifting and changing to suit it's own needs leaving you in the wake for better or worse. You can never master Time, you simply have to learn how to adjust to it's fleeting nature. Even then, if you're not careful, you'll be thrown for a loop and need a week to recover. The best moments always come when you've convinced yourself that Time no longer exists. When this happens your mind is most free to create on demand with no guilt, judgement or fear. The greatest momentum is always captured during this Time. But before long your mind snaps back and consciousness reminds you that Time does indeed exist and it demands respect.
Here’s something I’ve been working on for a while now. A few months back an artist I admired had died, Herb Wickham, and while going through my collection of prints looking for the one I purchased from him, I ran across a nice brochure that came with the print. The brochure was a standard thing I assume most working artist have or use to rely heavily on to drum up business. Nowadays with the internet a brochure might not be as in demand but it planted a seed in my mind that slowly started to grow. When it finally came time to do something about it, I was at a loss, how the hell do you make a brochure?
I asked around but never got any real info on how it’s done or what to do. I began to think it was something that’s just too obsolete in this day and age. Then I started poking around on my computer, low and behold, a brochure template was sitting there at the very bottom of some generic canned program. So I slowly started to work on it and now I have something I can send out.
Up till now I have not been very active in approaching potential clients for commission work. Luckily, thankfully, the work I have gotten has been word of mouth and they have contacted me. This is really a great feeling and a real confidence boost but eventually you have to get the word out there somehow. For now I’ll send these out to clubs, bars, restaurants and venues to see if there’s any interest. Perhaps having something tangible in hand will be a little better than a digital image? And for those reading this, please do know I am available for commissions.
I started this piece a few months ago and then just let it be. I’m now knee deep in a large scale painting that’s taking up all my time but I do plan on returning to it and finishing it by the end of the year in time for a show in January at the University City Library.It will probably be the only new piece in the show depending on how much time I have.It’s from an old photograph taken a few years ago when the bass player was about to leave for a time, it was a “last show” of sorts, but not really.Thankfully the bass player came back soon after and they play out more often albeit not as often due to the drummer living in Kentucky.
When they do play live it’s a pure joy to witness the interaction between the players which helps one understand their music, even if for a brief moment. Their special blend of Psych Country & Western Rock can send the most harden of us into a psychedelic prairie of our own delight with their excellent balance of prepared material cycling in and out of masterful improvising. However, be ready for a sharp change, cause it’s coming.