Friday, December 28, 2007

Mick Wakes Up

O Lucky Man (Warner Home Video)
Speaking of Candide... The middle installment of Lindsay Anderson's Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) trilogy is a sprawling Bildungsroman for the blown minds and crushed blossoms of 1973, featuring a great, brilliantly integrated soundtrack by Alan Price and a remarkable balance of dreamlike mythic recursivity and incisive (and sadly still relevant) political satire. Sometimes self-indulgence is just the ticket. Finally out on bargain-priced double DVD!

Accidentally left off the published version of my list of the 'Best Cultural Artifacts of 2007 that I Can Remember' - it goes right after the entry on the Jimbo doll.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Seasoning Unto You

"You may order your pastels from Alaska,
Imported, as the Igloo, in review"
- Evelyn Christmas (songpoem, Vol 2 track 4)

Download Outsider XMAS Vol 1
Download Outsider XMAS Vol 2

Tracklists in Comments

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Washington Post Two

While I'm linking to youtube, I've been meaning to follow up my post regarding my cinematic foray to Long Beach last April by linking to the completed short film Mimesis. I wish they'd used the part where George is doing the frug, but you can't talk to these people. I also noticed that the enhance your calm link was leading to the wrong material, so I fixed it. Next project Dr. Shantibugs? George W and John Spartan have much in common!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's Paint Mannlicher Carcano's Portrait

Mannlicher Carcano's appearance on John Kilduff's public access instructional painting program 'Let's Paint TV' on Youtube. The band in this incarnation includes (L to R) Christ's Cumming II, Herr Schurdt, Really Happening, & Gogo Godot.

I hate how these embedded videos slow down the page loading, so I'll just provide a screen shot and links, OK?

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Can't Get There from Here

"What is the point of making art? I worked at a Montessori daycare one summer, and there was this one kid who — when other entertainments weren’t forthcoming — would endlessly recite a schizophrenic Zen vaudeville routine of his own precocious concoction, to wit: “Why did the chicken cross the road? I don’t know Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Why did the chicken cross the road? I don’t know Ha ha...” The Art World has yet to arrive at this level of sublime denial, but it’s mostly due to the enormous quantity of multiple personalities duking it out — or more often avoiding the issue. In a fashion culture driven by planned obsolescence and amnesia, there’s no place for consensus — except maybe the one that suggests nobody push the question too far, at the risk of queering a good thing for everybody. It’s sort of a microcosm thing."

Continued, eventually getting around to Linda Stark's Potion Paintings, here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shortage of Fats Imperils Nation at War! Do Your Bit!

If the lure of XMAS salvage (now including guest sub-curator Jodi Wille of Process Media presenting previously unscreened video of local glam evangelist Miss Velma and the SOURCE Family’s Hawaiian Christmas special!!!) is not enough to get you to Echo Park this Saturday night, consider the synergistic possibilities of this:

Fry-B-Q 3, Wrath of Fry-B-Q
Saturday Dec 15, 7:00pm-10:00pm
Free Admission/$5 all you can fry

Machine Project
1200 D North Alvarado
Los Angeles, CA, 90026

Here’s what you do…

1) Arrive between 7 - 10 pm Saturday Dec 15th.

2) Bring something edible to fry. Machine's trained fryolater technicians will be standing by, eager to batter and fatify your soon to be delicious snacks. Machine's extensive testing suggests that almost any item will bring great fried satisfaction - potatoes, fish, vegetables, onions, twinkies, etc. Just in case Machine bought extra fire extinguishers.

3) Bring checks small and large and become a friend of Machine Project. Your donation helps Machine keep doing what Machine does, and is fully tax deductible. Details on Machine's support page

The secret bar (accessible through a stabilized rift in the time/space continuum) will be open.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Southland Skintasia

I'm a little late promoting this year's 'Skin' themed Pasadena Art & Ideas Festival, but many of the related shows are still up, and you can still get the catalog containing the rest of this essay.

From it’s origins in Otzi the Iceman’s elegant geometric inkage and the Paleolithic inverse spray-paint hand-prints of Chauvet Cave (not to mention the Venus of Willendorf - if only for square footage! Va-va-Voom!) art has been inextricably intermingled with the 5 layers of the upper integument. Underlying this seemingly fundamental use of epidermis as canvas is a radical semiotic event: skin inversely branded onto symbol, what “thought-stylist” R. Gros-Tumore has referred to as “OOTAT culture.” “The decision to deliberately mark the body,” claims Gros-Tumore “is the very Genesis-spot of Art, the point where abstraction of and alienation from the totally physiomatic Self is first materially recorded, to the best of our knowledge. It is, in fact, the opposite of branding; it is the ground zero of individuation.”

Whether or not the very origins of artmaking are to be found in this prehistoric moment of self-objectification, skin -- as a subject, metaphor, and even medium – has undeniably been a major recurring theme throughout art history. Along with three-point linear perspective and anatomical verisimilitude, the convincing depiction of skin was (and remains) one of the holy grails of pictorial illusionism, the dominant criterion of significant and successful art until the Modern era. Nor would this be a concern were it not for the peculiar exception granted the Fine Arts from various codes of prudery over the centuries, resulting both in countless Renaissance Classicist and Neoclassical depictions of nude Greek goddesses and equally abundant early 20th century mail-order pulp booklets of “Nude artist’s model” photography.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Solutions to You

More posts soon I swear to god. In the meantime, take comfort in the inspirational thought-stylings of Dethklok leader Nathan Explosion:

Update: First my nephews never get their talking Towelly dolls and now this? Screw you Cartoon Network! So 20th century. Here's a transcription:

Nathan: [reading the scripted commencement speech] Harvard... solutions... solutions to you...
Ofdensen: [whispers] Salutations!
Nathan: [tossing the speech aside] I don't need this stupid speech! (looking out at the graduates) You think you're smart huh? Think you can come up here and take a piece of this? Huh? Any of you? You? You? Listen, Harvard. I'm a billionaire. And most of you are gonna graduate and move back in with your parents! I'm gonna tell you somethin', though. We have something in common: we're all gonna die. No matter whatcha' do. No matter whatcha' do with your lives, you're dead! You're dead! You're dying. You're gonna die. All of you. Dead. You, dead. You, dead. All of you. You, lady? Your tits will be eaten by maggots. In just a few short years. So here's my message. My message to you. A very simple message: Go forth. Go forth, and DIIIIIE!

OK, here's the official site's version. You should just never buy anything by the company whose ad you have to sit through to get to the actual video. UPDATE 2020: OK now you don't have to watch the ad. Does Cartoon Network even still exist?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thrift Store Movies XMAS

Just a heads up on one upcoming curatorial project:

The Coalition for Cinematic Conservation and Preservation – Southern California Chapter and the Echo Park Film Center are proud to present
A Thrift Store Movie Xmas
Inoculate yourself for the holiday season with a burst of vernacular surrealism from the CCCP-SCC. Drawing from found films, thrift store discoveries, ephemeral oddities, and oddball cult classics, the CCCP-SCC has assembled a spectacular mosaic of cartoons, television specials, musical numbers, and feature film excerpts that explore the weird side of Yuletide. Highlights include “Santa Claus” a dubbed Mexican kiddie film from 1960 in which Santa battles the Devil, the infamous “lost” Star Wars Holiday special, local glam evangelist Miss Velma, cable access musical performances, and Christmas adventures from Benji, the Mirthworms, HeMan & SheRa, and Garfield, and much more. As always, special refreshments and amazing door prizes will abound. Join the festivities!

Saturday December 15th at 8 PM at the Echo Park Film Center
1200 N. Alvarado Street (@ Sunset Blvd)
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Somehow It All Makes Sense

I have a lot of catching up to do here, and stuff to promote. Recent writing, Thrift Store Movies Xmas, the upcoming 3rd LA Weekly Annual Biennial. I should start with my review of Lari Pittman's recent show at Regen Projects Dos.

The first time I saw the work of Lari Pittman was at the multiple-careers-making “Helter Skelter” show at MOCA in 1992, and I didn’t care for it. This was the era of his menacing sexualized owls, meticulously built-up psychedelic reliefs of dripping white candles, and circus-font repetitions of the number 69. In spite of their obvious craftsmanship and manifest fluency with a wide swath of the history of visual culture, the paintings’ sense of contained (if provocative) energies — not to mention the unironic deployment of such a conventional medium as acrylic and enamel on rectangular mahogany panels — made them seem out of step with such eruptive gestures as Paul McCarthy’s tree-fucking robot and Nancy Rubins’ roof-high mushroom-cloud tangle of trailers and hot-water heaters. Pittman’s work seemed a quirky vestige of the previous decade’s Reaganomic love affair with “New Image” painting, not the shape of things to come. Continued Here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dogstar Dogstar (Laikalaikalaika)

In a full-page full-color story the Sunday New York Times outed my spouse M.A. Peers as the artist responsible for the space dog paintings at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. You can access the story online here or check the comments. M.A.'s first show of new work in a few years is scheduled for May at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery. Top photo by Tull, bottom by Bastian.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bike Pathologies Tonight

In a CCCP-SCC peripheral curation, treasurer Erik Knutzen has put together a stellar program of vintage educational films for tonight!

Head on down to the Echo Park Film Center on Sunday November 4th for an evening of vintage bicycle safety films from the 50s, 60s and 70s in this special benefit screening for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Watch as little Jane and Johnny take to the streets for the first time to learn the rules of the road. But bring your motoring friends as well, since we’ll also serve up a selection of classic driver’s safety films. We’ll round out the evening with a few bicycle related shorts and oddities from the world of educational films.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) is a membership based advocacy organization working to improve the bicycling environment and quality of life in Los Angeles County through advocacy and education. The LACBC envisions a Los Angeles County that is a great place for everyday, year-round cycling with bicycles accepted as an integral part of our transportation system, culture, and communities.

Admission is $10 with all proceeds going to support the LACBC.

Sunday November 4th
Two screenings: 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm
The Echo Park Film Center is located at 1200 North Alvarado Street @ Sunset Blvd.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Licorice Allsorts... of the Mind!

"The elegant Portal paintings seem to offer a bittersweet passage to a less cluttered realm. Details are sketchy – the bullseye of the spiral’s center is an unknowable threshold of zero dimensions, but it’s clear that all baggage has to be discarded on this side of the equation. What a surprise to find all your familiar acquaintances waiting for you on the other side! Ay, there’s the rub. The deliverance offered in bridging the event horizon of a black hole is as likely to be the inescapable psychodrama of Solaris as it is to be the high amniotic indifference of 2001. Or perhaps it’s a Cabaret, old chum.

Mark Dutcher’s 2007 suite of Black Paintings seem to offer a speculative simulation of this very Far Side of our sensual and phenomenological constraints. Suddenly we confront De Selby’s ultimate accumulation of “black air,” a torrent of matériel noir that inverts our figure/ground understanding in an equally binary optical value reversal. In a variety of tableaux that recall freeze-frames of various vintage Big Reveals – particularly the withdrawal of curtains to expose the theatrical stage or cinematic screen – Dutcher delivers a best guess at second sight. Will there be a new way of seeing in the Kingdom of Heaven? Or is this it? Through a glass darkly, or infinity in a grain of sand? Or the contents of a gumball machine dumped in a cauldron of squid ink at full boil?"

from my catalog essay "Sugar in the Dark: Mark Dutcher’s Black Paintings"
published in conjunction with "Curtains", his exhibit at

High Energy Constructs
990 N. Hill Street, Suite 180
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Opening tonight, October 20 2007 from 6 - 9
On view through December 01 2007

Mark also has a spectacular survey show running concurrently at the Huntington Beach Art Center

Mark Dutcher's Shelf Life
538 Main St.
Huntington Beach Art Center
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
On view through December 16 2007

Above 'Cinema'
Below 'A Year in the Theater'

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let's Paint Fireworks for Spoiled Children

Art Garage Rock band Fireworks will be doing their thing with John Kilduff of cable access' Let's Paint TV fame at 8 PM on Thursday Oct 18th at the USC Grad Art Gallery at 3001 South Flower Street, LA, 90007 - just off the 110 freeway.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh Canaday!

"A case in point is his recent body of Noir hot rod paintings, a sort-of darkly macho Thanatos corollary to his longer-running pageant of full-frontal suburban Willendorfian Veneres (which themselves allude to often-Eros-tinted 70s airbrush figuration à la Alan Aldridge and Peter Saul). Employing the same backdrop of abstracted industrial domination -- Canaday hails from Detroit, site of some of the bleakest post-globalization urban landscapes in America -- as found in earlier studies of the female figure in the landscape such as Fudge Rammers in Their Pajamers (2005), the similarities end there – Canaday’s car paintings are utterly devoid of overt sexual content.

Instead, these remarkable works propose an equivalency between Ad Reinhart and “Big Daddy” Roth – between the chromatically minimal tail end of the existentialism-tinged Abstract Expressionist school and the more truly subversive eruption of the Grotesque which was occurring throughout American popular culture over the same period. The geometric complexity in a piece like Burnin’ (2007) is almost as compelling as the outlaw imagery it encodes. Drawing substantively from the automotive outsiders of Roth Studios (including Roth himself, Robert Williams - whose comic-book advertisements for Rat Fink tee-shirts bear a resemblance in wit and graphic complexity to Reinhart’s How to Look collage strips - and Dave Mann, later of Easyriders fame), Canaday’s painterly hot rods posit a plausible integration of the transcendental geometry and improvisational materiality of the church of Abex with the post-Jungian pop mythology of EC horror comics."

- from my catalog essay 'Motor City Badness: Steve Canaday’s American Graffiti'

published in conjunction with Canaday's shows at Black Dragon Society (closing October 20th) and Baronian-Francey in Brussels (opening in November). The book should be available at Black Dragon any day now. The Black Dragon show only includes one of the car paintings, but they may be still up in the auxillary space, and there'll be a chance to see at least one more before the new year.

Dough on the Go! reader Jacques de Beaufort put in his two cents in an insightful essay on his own blog and documented the openingto boot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Now, set the doom machine against the imperial space station itself!

Writing is a lonely calling, so it is especially gratifying when one learns that not one but two of one's blog readers have taken the plunge and rented STARCRASH solely on the basis of one's blog entry recommendation. One such was Steve Roden who may have been stunned into permanent silence, though reliable intelligence says he may be reworking the haunting theme music for his October 23rd gig at the Hammer. The other is Daniel Mendel-Black, who immediately folded the complex STARCRASH cosmology into his own ongoing sci-fi political allegory at his Kulturedrome blog. Let's try and keep this going, people!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hot Diggity Smog

We did not allow our automotive woes to interfere with our attendance of Bill Callahan's appearance in the Echoplex grotto last night. Accompanied by fiddle, bass, and percussion, he drew heavily from his most recent album "Woke on a Whale Heart"- the first issued under his real name instead of as "Smog"

The album is awesome and has a great cover by one of the best artists from the Providence scene, Joe Grillo (of the dearraindrop consortium)

I've seen Smog a few times, and while he always had a mesmerizing stage presence, he usually just sat there - but this Bill guy seems to have brought some slinky body consciousness along with him, as he kept busting mutant Elvis moves and breaking out the old softshoe.

The opening act was virtuosic Sun City Girls alum Sir Richard Bishop. I didn't get any good shots of him, though, so here's one more of Mr. Bill.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Ironing is Delicious

Some one caused some deep wrinklage to our "new" car (the '91 Accord) at 2 AM this morning. According to a coupon left by the police, it was the work of one "Neva Grout." Now, assuming this was not the principal of a Catholic school in British Columbia, my google search turned up this improbable gem. Neva is signator #116. Stay tuned for insurance horror stories.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"They all, without any exception are AGAINST, I say, are AGAINST what I am doing."

I was uploading this anyway, so in case anyone's interested, here's a 8 1/2 minute sound piece I made about 10 years ago for a show at the refusalon. 'Spitting Out Our Medication' includes a soliloquy from a tape recorded by Wilhelm Reich in Orgonon just before he was put in prison, an homage to Spike Jones, samples from a 70's radio program on the anti-psychiatry movement, and so much more.

The original audio tape is still available from the Wilhelm Reich Museum at Orgonon, where you can also purchase reproductions of Reich's paintings (below, 'Swirl' 1951) or rent a cottage, in addition to a wealth of resources detailing Reich's theories and research - much of it unavailable elsewhere.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Last Chance for Griffinity

Sunday September 30th is the last chance to view "Heart & Torch: Rick Griffin's Transcendence" at Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach. The show (shamefully) won't travel, and many of the pieces included will probably disappear forever back into private collections after it closes. The awesome catalog is almost sold out, as are the vintage limited edition silk-screen reproductions of classic Griffin psychedelic posters and 4 different tee-shirts produced by Hurley specifically for the show. Be there or be everywhere.

Above: Griffin paints the bus 'Motorskill' in John Severson's classic "Pacific Vibrations"

Below: Rick's mystic eye.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Mists of Abalone

"While Spence deploys his signature post-photorealist airbrush technique to its full fuzzy luminosity in the new works, they have grown significantly in scale. And the recombinant mash-ups of “Afterlife” have been distilled into their discrete constituent ingredients. Almost every one of the large canvases consists of a single misty photographic re-reproduction, some found, some altered, some staged with models. A couple of these depict the kind of totemic handcrafted figurative sculptures commonly arising out of a clinical art-therapy session — the wonky cardboard toilet-paper-tube family of 'Gaggle' and the (deliberately) awkwardly installed, strangely Magritte-like 'Figure', which the artist copied as a sculpture from an art-therapy book before rephotographing it for its eventual transubstantiation into Real Art."

My latest LA Weekly piece looks at "Art Therapy," the current show by LA painter Brad Spence at Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

Above: 'Boundary'; below: 'Remedy'

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some One Needs To Do This In Chinatown... Bubbles

The 4th annual Soundwalk was held in downtown Long Beach last weekend, organized by the artist collective FLOOD. It was great to see such a complex event being pulled together with almost no money, and so many different people checking out experimental music and sound art. There were something like 50 artists providing performances, installations, sound sculptures, etc. spread over 4 blocks. I did a few recording tours and edited together a 13-minute virtual experience.
To the best of my ability I've figured out who made what sounds on here - anyone with further info or corrections please share it in a comment. Sorry for the crappy sound. But I dig crappy sound.

1. Midnight Gardeners' lovely drones in the Dome Room of the Lafayette (pictured above)
2. Unidentified (and unseen) blues guitarist on corner of Linden & Broadway
3. Doug Pearsall's funk on the opposite corner
4. Lewis Keller's robot drumming orchestra in a vacant storefront
5. Daniel Corral's amazing meta-musicboxes in the Lafayette kitchen
6. Robert Strong's mutant kettle drum in another room of the Lafayette kitchen
7. Miha Ciglar's video feedback sound in the Dome Room
8. Adam Overton's touch-activated human ensemble on Koo's stage
9. Christiaan Cruz's shrubbery shrouded installation - I didn't get a chance to inspect it closely but I liked the racket.
10. Mike Chang & Allie Bogle's open access FOR SALE piano in a flowershop entrance and unidentified roving horn ensemble
11. MLuM's fig leaf & veil extravaganza in the Cooper Arms
12. Gary Raymond's very popular feedback delay shipping crate on the corner of Linden & First
13. Markle & Strauss's ouija board electronics in the back of an art gallery
14. Fluorescent Grey's dense loopy collage in the Dome Room
15. Mannlicher Carcano's dense loopy collage in the Dome Room (with live cell-phone air couple from Canada)
16. Tom Skelly's random recombinant sampledelic jukebox on the street in front of the Best Western.

Tom Skelly (pictured below) creates an awesome live sound collage radio program every Sunday from 7 - 10 at when not bringing art to the prisons.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mannlicher Carcano Live Saturday Night

Mannlicher Carcano are participating in this year's SOUNDWALK festival in Long Beach CA. Porter Hall and Gogo Godot will be participating from Canada via telephone. Really Happening, Herr Schurdt, and whoever else shows up will hold down the fort at this end.

Mannlicher's set (entitled 'Bong Leach Wound Sock') will run from 9 - 10 PM in The Dome Room of The Lafayette at 528 E. Broadway

On September 22, 2007, the Long Beach artist group, FLOOD, will present SoundWalk2007, featuring artists from the Southland and the international scene. This event operates under the concept of a one-night aural/visual experience as provided by a walking-tour of sound installations and soundmarks located in various indoor and outdoor spaces situated throughout the East Village Arts District in Downtown Long Beach. The artworks will combine in multiple ways a wide range of visual, performative and audio components. There will be sculptures, environments, installations and performances. More details can be found at

Also, those in search of great deals on all kinds of fabulous film and video equipment, supplies, resources, VHS rarities and inexplicable knicknacks should be sure to check out the Echo Park Film Center's ANNUAL RUMMAGE SALE! – Saturday, Sept 22 – 11AM – 5PM. Here is a picture of Nigel and EPFC svengali Paolo D contemplating one of the last category of objects. What the hell is that thing?!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"It's times like this that I'm glad to be a robot."

Truer words were never spoken. The Coalition for Cinematic Conservation and Preservation - Southern California Chapter (CCCP-SCC) is the umbrella organization under whose aegis the Thrift Store Movie screenings at the the Hammer and numerous programs at The Echo Park Film Center (including Mormon Media and Wienergeist 1: The Cinema of the Hot Dog) are organized. On occasion our organization will endorse a film of not particularly ephemeral or educational nature. One such film is 'Starcrash' (original title: 'Scontri Stellari Oltre la Terza Dimensione'), a 1979 Roger Corman-produced Italian Star Wars ripoff that was found on VHS in a thrift store in Oroville.

Starring Marjoe Gortner, Hammer beauty Caroline Munro, permanently beleagured Christopher Plummer, and featuring the screen debut of David Hasselhoff, 'Starcrash' has been reissued on DVD and developed a considerable cult following, as evidenced by this dissertation on, this page featuring downloadable sound samples and stills as well as a tart but glowing review, and this over-the-top fansite. All questions of condescending "so bad its good" critiques aside, some of the visuals in this film are transcendent in their beautiousness. And I'm an art critic. (And I think I'm getting an idea for my next curatorial project... Omaggio a Armando Valcauda!)

Gortner's B-movie career was kicked off by the Oscar-winning documentary 'Marjoe' which followed the former Pentecostal child evangelist in his ambivalent attempt to reconcile his youthful experiences with his adult counterculture worldview through an awkward return to the revival tent circuit. His last role to date was as a preacher in Walter Hill's 'Wild Bill' (1995). He was briefly married to Candy Clark, on whom David Bowie vomited in 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. Most recently Gortner has been sponsoring charity golf tournaments.

The Great John Barry - who was tricked into scoring 'Starcrash' - later reused the haunting theme music for 'Out of Africa', which earned him an Oscar. All roads lead to the Academy.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Out-Sourcing Inner Work

"On August 25, 1975, former Sunset Strip restaurateur Jim Baker launched himself off a 1,300-foot-high cliff on the easternmost shore of Oahu. Although he had never hang-glided before — or even trained for it — he was confident his instincts would kick in and allow him to negotiate the notoriously tempestuous thermal trade winds off the mountainous coastline. And they may well have, except for a sudden calm that caused him to immediately plummet downward hundreds of feet. He recovered control and managed to glide out over the Pacific for 10 minutes before navigating back to crash-land on the beachfront Waimalano campground. Although he appeared to have no serious injuries, Baker was unable to move and was taken home, where he died some nine hours later. He was survived by his 13 wives and 140 or so sons and daughters."

Spiritual Sons and Daughters that is. Read the rest of my LA WEEKLY piece on 70's LA cult The Source Family here. Then buy the book from which I cribbed it all:
The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family. Above is author Isis Aquarian in silhouette during the slideshow portion of the book launch salon at the Process/Feral House Hobbit Compound.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Basil Wolverton's First Museum Retrospective Opens Saturday!

"As Spacehawk was losing altitude, Wolverton took a freelance assignment that required him to create a humor feature. The first result was a sci-fi parody called Splash Morgan. Within a year, the artist had developed three comical features – including his most popular and influential series, Powerhouse Pepper – and by the time Spacehawk folded, he was getting so much humor work that he abandoned his “serious” style for almost a decade.

Powerhouse Pepper – published in various Timely Comics (which later became Marvel) and edited by Stan Lee – lasted in various forms from 1942 through 1948 and took the kind of ridiculous wordplay and corny sight gags common to prewar humor strips to a level of meta-absurdity, clogging panels with joke signage and props and speech balloons and captions with baroque tongue-twisting verbiage riddled with rhyme, permeated with puns, and characterized by rampant alliteration. It is not so far-fetched to consider the linguistic innovations in Wolverton’s comedic scripts in the light of modernist literature by authors James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Hugo Ball, Alfred Jarry, and perhaps most consonantly, Raymond Roussel.

Roussel, a next-door neighbor to Marcel Proust, had a similar passion for the improbable and a love of wordplay. He took special delight in exposing the hypocrisy of authority by affecting a mock highfalutin tone and exaggerating it into absurdity. Roussel played a pivotal role in the foundation of modern art when the 1911 theatrical version of his proto-surrealist novel, Impressions of Africa, inspired epiphanies in Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Apollinaire. The dadaists and surrealists were notoriously fond of American comics -- Duchamp and Man Ray even reprinted a Rube Goldberg contraption in their 1921 New York Dada journal.

(See hi-res scans of the rest of this Pepper story & more here)

While Goldberg, Wolverton, and other purveyors of pop-cultural absurdities were skeptical – if not outright hostile – toward their adoption by the avant-garde, their attitude probably had more to do with the fact that America’s elite class fetishized European culture even when it was fundamentally at odds with Yankee Nouveau Riche postures of privilege and authority. Regardless of the conceptual discomfort, the overlap between Wolverton and the “moderns” is considerable. Probably the most striking consistency lies in the realm of Grotesque caricature -- a recurring motif in fine art from the Renaissance on and made central to Modernism by the Expressionist, Dada, and Surrealist artists. Wolverton began to explore this territory extensively during the 1940s and eventually laid indisputable claim to it."

from my essay 'The Closer You Look, the Prettier It Ain’t: Basil Wolverton’s Microscopic Grotesque'
The Original Art of Basil Wolverton published by Grand Central Press and Last Gasp Publishing in conjunction with the exhibit.

The Original Art of Basil Wolverton
from the Collection of Glenn Bray
September 1 - November 11, 2007

Opening Reception: September 1, 7-10 p.m.

Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway,
Santa Ana, CA 92701
General Phone: 714.567.7233

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Can't Believe They Kept My Title

Excuse my intermittent diaristic impulses - I guess I'm not a real journalist after all. At least when I have nothing to say I shut the fuck up. But now I have to play catch up again. So here's the most recently published LA WEEKLY article - about the Getty Research Institute's hosting the audio archives of Paul McCarthy and John Duncan's experimental "Close Radio" broadcasts from the 70's. Above is a photo of McCarthy and Mike Kelley performing on Bastille Day as part of Extended Organ in a downtown warehouse studio space. Out of the shot: Tom Recchion, Joe Potts, and Joseph Hammer (channeling Fredrik Nilsen). You can hear and download most of the Close Radio programs here at the GRI site.