Saturday, June 23, 2007

Griffinity Now!

Heart and Torch: Rick Griffin’s Transcendence
June 24, 2007 – September 30, 2007

Opening reception
Awesome live DJ. (Rendering my mix redundant)
An In-N-Out truck will serve up burgers outside.

Saturday, June 23 2007, 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Price: $15 non-members (or see me for a coupon)

Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(949) 494-8971

Heart and Torch: Rick Griffin’s Transcendence, the artist’s first major retrospective and solo museum exhibition, opens on June 24, 2007. A cult figure that set the iconographic terrain for the 1960s and 1970s counterculture, in his art Griffin expressed idealism and hope along with a darker side that perfectly embodied the contradictions of the era with its mixture of hedonism, politics, and avant-garde expression.

The exhibition, which includes some 140 paintings, drawings, posters, album covers, and artifacts, surveys thirty years of Griffin’s work from the 1960s until his death in 1991. The accompanying 156-page catalogue, published in association with Gingko Press, is the first publication to address Griffin’s impact on the surf, psychedelic rock, and born-again Christian movements.

Heart and Torch is organized for Laguna Art Museum by Susan M. Anderson, and co-curated by guest curators Greg Escalante and Doug Harvey with curatorial consultant Gordon McClelland.

Laguna Art Museum is located in Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, situated approximately 60 minutes south of Los Angeles and 90 minutes north of San Diego. To get to the Museum, take Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, California Highway 1) toward Laguna Beach. The Museum is located on the south-east corner of the crossing of Pacific Coast Highway and Cliff Drive.

Opening Hours and Admission

Laguna Art Museum is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's days.

$10.00 General
$8.00 Seniors, Students, and active duty Military and their dependents.
Free for Children 12 and under
Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Autonomous Speech Bubbles

From my catalog essay for the Rick Griffin retrospective at Laguna Art Museum (which I also co-curated with Greg Escalante) opening Saturday:

"As if his accomplishments as a psychedelic poster designer weren't enough, Rick Griffin immediately went on to help redefine the most underrated medium in 20th century art when he was Robert Crumb’s first draft choice to contribute to the second issue of Zap Comix. Zap #1 had unleashed Crumb upon the world, and although it took a little while for the world at large to catch on (like until the multiple obscenity busts of issue #4), the graphic narrative medium would never be the same. Griffin and Moscoso had already been toying with the idea of producing a comic book, and Griffin’s famous mutant Morning Paper funny pages poster (FD89) is said to have inspired Crumb’s Ultra Super Modernistic Comics in Zap #1 – his somewhat less successful attempt at non-linear comic art.

Morning Paper -- along with several related posters done for John Van Hamersveld’s LA-based Pinnacle Productions -- had insinuated the concept of non-linear structuralist comic art into the graphic mainstream. Although there were precedents – Bay area Beat artist Jess’ Tricky Cad collages of fragmented Dick Tracy episodes spring to mind – these seem to be the first truly abstract non-linear “narratives” presented in comic-strip panel sequences (a union that had happened early in Cinema) in something resembling a commercial mass medium."

If you can't make the opening, there's an awesome panel discussion Sunday:

Sunday, June 24, 2007 1:00 p.m.

Psychedelic Moment: The Big Five and Zap Comix in the 1960s

This panel on Griffin and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury features the artist’s widow and internationally respected artists who initiated the psychedelic art and underground comix movements. With Ida Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, Spain Rodriguez, and Robert Williams. Moderated by Jacaeber Kastor, founder of Psychedelic Solution Gallery, New York.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Funny, you don't look Jewish...

Our homies The Yes Men (or Les Hommes de Oui-Oui as the 1988 Official Languages Act mandates) have been crossing borders with their zany brand of eco-terrorism, shaking things up in my family's adopted hometown of Calgary with their radical approach to rendering:

June 14, 2007

Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested

Text of speech, photos, video
GO-EXPO statement
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary
More links at end of release.

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada’s largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year’s conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the “NPC rep” was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)

In the actual speech, the “NPC rep” announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta’s oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could “keep fuel flowing” by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

“We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant,” said “NPC rep” “Shepard Wolff” (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

“Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production,” noted “Exxon rep” “Florian Osenberg” (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). “With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left.”

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit “commemorative candles” supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an “Exxon janitor” who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as “Shepard Wolff,” explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

“We’ve got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us.”

“We’re not talking about killing anyone,” added the “NPC rep.” “We’re talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That’s only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel.”

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada’s oil sands, along with “liquid coal,” are keystones of Bush’s Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world’s worst carbon emitters. The production of “liquid coal” has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

“If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is,” Bonanno said. “While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity.”

“Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock,” said “Shepard Wolff” (Bichlbaum). “Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?”

About the NPC and ExxonMobil
About Alberta oil sands
Sierra club on liquid coal

Friday, June 15, 2007

Portal to the Future

I've been getting behind in my posts -- I haven't been able to report on the amazing Angela Davis/Dengue Fever double bill or the live Guy Maddin extravaganza, because I've been down in Laguna working on the installation of the first-ever museum retrospective of Rick Griffin - the surf cartoonist, psychedelic poster artist, underground comix innovator, and born-again Christian painter who died in a motorcycle accident in 1991. The show is looking amazing - it opens next weekend. Above we see a remarkable image capturing the exact moment when a time/space portal opened in Griffin's San Clemente living room, allowing Rick to send his Flying Eyeball emissary back in time to prevent the Nazis from winning WWII. Just another thing you didn't know about this remarkable artist. More to come, but I have to put together a powerpoint presentation at my failed attempt to convince a group of Swedish art students to create a sequel to Joseph Sarno's 1978 porn classic FÄBODJÄNTAN, to be presented tonight as part of

“Renegade Artists: The Swedish Los Angeles Connection”
An evening of slides, films, music, meatballs and drinks
Organized by Marnie Weber, featuring:

Jeffrey Vallance, who will present a jet-lagged slide lecture about the shows he has curated in Sweden. A slide presentation by Liz Young, titled “New Reality Mix: Hotel California.” Marnie Weber screens “Poor Them” a short film of unfortunate circus animals filmed in Sweden. Ghost Drawings brought forth through the Ouija Board by Christian Cummings and Michael Decker. A presentation by Doug Harvey titled, “Fabodjantan II.” And special guests direct from Sweden, Ride 1 presenting 3 film excerpts: “Remakes of the Deer Hunter, Alien, and Jaws.”

$5 suggested donation
990 N. Hill Street, Suite 180
Los Angeles

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hawkin' loogies

Here's the scuptural component of my recent Great Expectorations exhibit -- the "Precious Nuggets." Most of the Nuggets started out as expandable shipping foam from negative space between a cardboard box and mail-order veterinary supplies. Above is "The Green Man" and below is "The Participant" photographed by Josh White. (The Participant is actually an exception to the veterinary supply negative space formula -- it's one of three cheap latex pinhead masks I bought in El Cajon thrift store about 15 years ago, filled with spray foam.) The complete show can be viewed at flickr.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Death Cupcake

"Camille Rose Garcia’s place in the rapidly deteriorating interzone between The Art World and the Lowbrow world is pretty unique. Beloved in the underground for her nostalgia-dripping, darkly curdled fairytale imagery and exquisite design sense, Garcia has arrived at her place in the upper echelons of the Lowbrow cosmos from an unthinkable mainstream pedigree including a childhood grounded in the LA Chicano Arts movement, degrees from Otis and UC Davis, and a stint at the career-making Skowhegan summer residency program. Her first published review -- in 1995 in Art issues. magazine – describes a consummate academic slackerism: a black duct-tape shell of a car, emitting a soundtrack from the cult film Suburbia. Only the title – Vehicle for My Escape Plan – seems recognizably Garciaesque, with its bleak frisson of impending apocalyptic doom and still-hopeful-in-spite-of-it-all suggestion of personal narrative.

Rather than pursuing what could easily have become a lucrative and respectable life on the Kunsthall and Biennial circuit, Garcia deliberately chose to embrace the craft-conscious, cartoon-friendly, unabashedly decorative vocabulary of Lowbrow. Although bearing considerable relation to aforementioned mainstream artists like Pittman and (most particularly) Deen, Garcia moved into the pictorial realm long after the heyday of “New Image” painting had withered with the art market crash of 1989. This boundary-rupturing shift in allegiance marks a turning point in the history of Lowbrow. In spite of the underground’s defensive dismissal of them as “pretentious”, university-trained artists often feel a real and tremendous pressure to live up to the cumulative legacies of art history -- and particularly the 20th century’s insistence on art’s social relevance."

Read the rest of my essay on Camille Rose Garcia in the catalog for her current survey at The San Jose Museum of Art.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ishi Gathering Continued: The Thankful Dead

Another of the remarkable personages that assembled to celebrate the legacy of Ishi in Oroville last month was Alberta Tracy, a multi-talented local whose arresting first-person retelling of the Thankful Lewis Carson saga (Thankful and her older brother Jimmie attended school about three miles from their home. On the day of their capture, their younger brother, a child of five, wished to accompany them, the parents permitting him to do so. As they were returning from school the little boy was thirsty and they left the road, going about one hundred yards to Little Dry Creek where they quenched their thirst. The older boy was still drinking at the creek when a rifle shot was heard and he fell forward into the water, shot through the back. Mill Creek Indians appeared from ambush and took the other children prisoners. As they left the scene of their capture, climbing the mountain-side, they looked down and could see their home. The children were barefooted and suffered much from the rough stones and brambles through which they were forced to travel the remainder of the day and far into the night, their captors forcing them onward by prodding them with their guns. They stopped for the remainder of the night in a canyon not far from the home of one of the settlers and left long before daybreak the next morning. Little Johnnie was so footsore and weary that he could not walk and began to cry. This angered the Indians and, after conversing in their own tongue, four of the Indians took the child back into the woods. He seemed to realize they were going to kill him and bade his sister good-bye. His body was afterwards found in a clump of bushes where he had been thrown and stoned to death. They told the little girl they were going to burn her alive when they reached their camp. They continued their journey across the hills and canyons, keeping near the foothills, crossing Butte Creek about five miles from Chico. The little girl saw a faint wagon track and heard a rooster crow and realized that they were not far from some one's house. She begged her captors to let her go but they refused. She displayed much wisdom in the way she sought to gain their favor. The day wore along until it was almost noon, and she was left behind with one Indian to guard her. The Indian was heavily laden with provisions and guns to the others, promising to travel better if allowed to rest for a time. Her entreaties prevailed and after he was out of sight and she thought the way was clear, she got up and ran toward Big Chico Creek. Hurrying along, she heard voices and knew the Indians were looking for her. She hid under the bank of the creek, concealed by bushes, until the Indias left the neighborhood, then crossed the creek and ran for some distance without seeing a habitation, finally reaching the home of Mrs. Thomasson, where she told her story and was cared for, and restored to her parents."History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pages 445-449, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918) in Clear creek Cemetery - where Thankful and her brothers are actually buried - was a highlight of the weekend. Thankful is just one of dozens of historical women from Butte County and around the world that Alberta has portrayed - other notable roles include Cornelia Lott, Freda Ehmann, Zilla Bills, Sin Chow, The Bride of Leonardo Tomaso, Amelia Earhart, Fanny Brice, Joan of Arc, Maria von Trapp, and - with the help of a pair of handmade prosthetic heads - all three Bronte sisters simultaneously!

Here is a shot of Lee Lynch capturing Alberta's performance on video, from which the above "artistic" still was extracted. For more "regular" shots of Alberta's performance, visit my flickr Ishi Gathering page.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Tardy Art

"Great Expectorations: Return of the Green Man" 2006
Photo by Joshua White

Okay, it's only taken like what, three months? but I've uploaded to flickr some images from my "Great Expectorations" solo show at High Energy Constructs earlier this year. The first set is the actual "Great Expectorations" which are painting/collages on standard 50 X 38 sheets of paper involving some sort of eruption from one domain into another -- the bottom line to qualify as an "event." This series was started in 2004, but the bulk were completed in the couple of months before the show opened. The "Precious Nuggets" sculptures will follow shortly. I recommend clicking the 'Play as Slideshow' option, as the transitions add a certain awesomeness to the proceedings.

"Great Expectorations: He Them Both (Can’t Spell Mourning Without “U”)" 2006
Photo by Joshua White