A few months back I was invited by East Central College Gallery to show work from Jun through Aug. At the time I was knee deep in Uncle Tupelo paintings, not sure of what to show but still jumped at the great opportunity. I let them know I was interested but wasn't exactly sure of what I would have to show and asked the show be titled "To Be Determined". Amazingly, they were all for it. As soon as the UT pieces were completed, I began work on new mid-large sized paintings.
Recently two artists, independent of each other, mentioned to me the "rough urban" quality in my work. They meant it as a compliment and that's how I took it as well. This is what I've been thinking about the most while creating this new series of paintings. I'm slowly starting to realize the most important things in painting are lines, shapes and colors. Nothing else really matters and as long as those three qualities are an accurate reflection of who you are as an painter, then it will all work out.
Once a month I try to write an update to let everyone know what's been going on but it's been so damn crazy lately that there's been no time to write anything. So I'll use this post to promote the show "Graveyard Shift" which opens April 10 at the University City Public Library. New paintings of the band Uncle Tupelo. The last 6 months have been spent working on this idea which originated about 2 years ago. It's nice to finally see it all come together. Once these paintings are completed though, I have more work to do for another show that will be this summer, but more on that later. For now, I hope I did justice to this great band whose music will live on forever.
The Music Record Shop is a cool record/tape/CD shop located right between the Ready Room and The Demo on Manchester in the Grove area. After talking with Mark and Daniel there, I was allowed to hang a number of paintings and make them available for sale. This is really a great way to get the pieces in front of a lot of people who normally wouldn't see them and it's worked out really well. The shop is very supportive of St. Louis bands and artists, and they're always looking for opportunities to do more. For now, primarily older paintings like the one pictured above are available there, but I did just drop off a brand new piece of the band Demon Lover. However, as time goes on, new paintings as they're completed will be added and available for sale. This will be a good reason to get back out and start photographing shows again, something I haven't really been doing for a while now. Be sure to stop in and check out their record selection and see some artwork.
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.