I’ll admit it, I don’t know Robert very well. Before I really knew who he was I would hear about him from people like Steve Scariano and Joe Thebeau but I don’t recall ever really being conscious of him until I saw him play guitar at Off Broadway with Finn’s Motel. At first I didn’t even realize it was him, I was just floored by the guitar playing. I was hearing colors, seeing textures and was surrounded by a tone that could hold weight on the moon. My mind was literally blown. Later I found out that was Robert Griffin. This was maybe 6 or 7 years ago? Since then I have gotten to know Robert a little better but not really that much. I had already known he was the guitar player for a band called Prisonshake that was originally from Cleveland, OH. I knew about this band thanks to Steve Scariano who plays bass with them. Their double album “Dirty Moons” is really phenomenal. I had also figured out that he ran Scat Records which is probably best known for putting out Guided By Voices landmark album “Bee Thousand”. Then, while hanging out at the Royale for a while on Sunday nights, I put it together that he was the same guy making all the great drinks at the bar. Watching him make a mixed cocktail is just like watching him play guitar. His attention to detail and focus is tremendous. Everything is served in its due time. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with him. I’m much too shy to ever mention anything or ask him questions about music or playing guitar. But from that first time of seeing him play live at Off Broadway I snapped his photo and tucked it away for future reference.
So, fast forward to Nov 2012. I received and invitation to participate in a group show at Hoffman LaChance in March 2013. The concept of the show was to find a second hand/thrift store painting and add something to it of your own. On Dec 30 I went to Goodwill on Forest Park Parkway and found a large landscape oil painting. At the time I had no clue what I was going to do with it and was a little nervous about buying it cause it was so large but went ahead and got it anyway. That night I went to the Royale and had a wonderful time sitting and talking with Steve Smith and Joyce Gorrell. We discussed many things including, the value of musical theatre, the importance of taking vacations, what it means for an artist to do commercial work and at some point in the evening I showed Steve and Joyce the photo I had taken of Robert so many years ago. I told them when the time was right I was going to paint his picture and they both agreed that would be a good idea. The next day, while nursing a hangover, thinking about the previous night’s conversation and looking at the large oil painting I had purchased, I realized Robert’s image would fit perfectly in it and I immediately starting working on putting him in the painting. The result is the image above.
now playing - Prisonshake