Music has played a big part in my life, and I've had the good fortune to work on a number of great projects related to that passion over the years. So when Justin Reynolds at the Village Voice contacted me about doing the cover for their upcoming Fall Arts Guide, which features the Brooklyn-based band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I was a pushover.
The band's label provided some reference for me to work with.
Roughs, along with some old cigar box type i liked for inspiration; next to it, the pencil I sent Justin.
Justin was looking for art that would incorporate type into the design, and was drawn to the album cover and concert poster work I've done, where hand-lettered type plays a big part in the image. I've always enjoyed combining those elements—the control freak in me, I guess—and the idea of doing a group portrait that brought together this band's urban roots with a Fall theme struck me as a fun challenge. With their music on in the background for inspiration, I roughed out a few general ideas and then sent a pencil to Justin.
In process: pencil on board with a light grey wash; toned wash over that; rendering up the image
I got a quick OK and was off to the races. Here are a few shots of the work underway, as well as some details of the final art. I used PS to incorporate the teaser line type in the banner—that was a bit much to hand paint in the tight turnaround time I had—but the rest was done the old-fashioned way, though I did some last minute touch-up to the banner type in PS and delivered as a digital file for speed.
As luck would have it, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are playing Austin later this month, just a few blocks from my home. I'll be there, enjoying the show!
Detail of the piece; the final art is roughly 10" x 12"
This detail is for Kroninger, who is still working on his signature.
A few months back, Tony Larsen at Euro RSCG contacted me to work with him on a project that involved subject matter I couldn't pass up: hot sauce and devils. Frank's Hot Sauce is spicy stuff, and Tony wanted to convey the heat of the product in a visual straight out of hell. Since Bosch was unavailable, I stepped in to fill the bill.
The piece is one of a number of images that were accepted into this year's SI Advertising & institutional Exhibit, which I'll be traveling up to NY for this Friday, so I hope to see many of you there. Below are several other works that were accepted into various categories of the annual as well. And in case you've forgotten the details:
The Society of Illustrators 51st Annual Advertising & Institutional Show
Refreshments 6:00PM / Awards Presentation 7:00PM / Cash bar open until midnight, Friday, March 6th
128 EAST 63RD STREET, NEW YORK CITY
Tickets $30 MEMBERS $35 NON-MEMBERS
KEVIN@societyilustrators.org or call 212 838 2560
MARCH 4th through MARCH 28th
Serbin Communications | Spur Design :Putting Your Best Face Forward, (gold medal)
Von Dutch 1 portrait for Murphy Design
Von Dutch 2 portrait for Murphy Design
Babe Ruth, for Major League Baseball | All-Star program
The great Joe Kimberling at Los Angeles magazine called a few weeks ago with a fun project: The Birds of Los Angeles.
The article focuses on the incredible range of birds that thrive and flourish in LA's urban jungle, and the idea was to capture the feeling of classic naturalist art, but with contemporary urban settings. As always, Joe was great to work with, and the design of the spreads is clean, beautiful and easy to read. If only bird guides were this well designed!
"Resurrection" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 10" x 10"
Here's a piece I did for the upcoming Art Basel | MiamiKNOW with Mark Murphy, Dec. 4-7. This is a group show that includes:
Jennybird Alcantara : David van Alphen : Ana Bagayan : Robert Bellm : Jonathan Bergeron : Mike Bertino : Cathie Bleck : Jonathan Boam : Darren Booth : Brandon Boyd : Katherine Brannock : Calef Brown : Ryan Bubnis : Marc Burckhardt : Christopher Buzelli : Ray Caesar : Luke Chueh : Dave Chung : Robert Connett : Molly Crabapple : Amy Crehore : Rob Day : Xiaoqing Ding : Leslie Ditto : Doodles : Gerard DuBois : Ekundayo : P-Jay Fidler : AJ Fosik : Andrew Foster : Ken Garduno : Ill Gill : Matt Haber : Moira Hahn : Robert Hardgrave : Ryan Heshka : Vincent Hui : Jordin Isip : Jason Jacenko : Levon Jihanian : Ron Job : Dan Kennedy : Mel Kadel : Donald Kilpatrick : Kinoko : KMNDZ : Zane Kozak : Kukula : Travis Lampe : Daniel Hyun Lim : Tommii Lim : Jen Lobo : Lola : Dan May : Brandi Milne : Mark Murphy : Joel Nakamura : Andrew Neyer : Clinton Neuhaus : Kathie Olivas : Brandt Peters : Jenn Porreca : Luke Ramsey : relAx one : RG : Mark Ryden : Chris Ryniak : Erik Sandberg : Mijn Schatje : Jeffery Scott 92501 : Kim Scott : Jeff Soto : Nathan Spoor : Matt Stallings : David Russell Talbott : Yoko Tanaka : Gary Taxali : Peter Taylor : Jon Todd : Joe Vaux : Alexei Vella : Jonathan Viner : Marco Wagner : Cynthia Walton : Gordon Wiebe : Nicholas Wilton : Martin Wittfooth : Davey Wong : Johnny Yanok : Marco Zamora : Chet Zar
I'm also showing 10 paintings at Art Basel | Miami SCOPE, with the Marder Gallery, also December 4-7. Here are a few of the pieces in that exhibit.
"Affiction" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 33" x 48"
"Mirror" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 18.5" x 15.75"
"Whitewash" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 20" x 16.25"
"Proxy" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 18.5" x 16"
"Heroine" | Acrylic & oil on wood panel | 7.5" x 10.25"
And finally, I have a few new pieces that will be part of the "America" show at Marder in Bridgehampton, NY, opening next Saturday, November 29th. The gallery is located at 120 Snake Hollow Road, and the opening reception is 5-9 on Saturday.
This summer, I was contacted by the folks at Decca/Universal Records about doing a cover for the legendary bassist Charlie Haden, the jazz great and Liberation Music Orchestra leader who has recorded countless classics with the likes of Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett, and John Coltrane. But this record—Rambling Boy—is something of a departure for Haden: a bluegrass album that takes him back to his roots. Charlie grew up in the equally legendary Haden Family Band, whose live country radio show back in the 40's and 50's brought him into the circle of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rogers, and Hank Williams. For this album, he brought together his wife Ruth and his own children, daughters Tanya, Petra, Rachel, and son Josh to record with him, as well as friends like Elvis Costello, Roseanne Cash, Vince Gill and Pat Metheny.The result, which will be released this week, is a beautiful collaboration that's anchored in family and tradition.
Hats off to Fanny Gotshcall and Pat Barry at Decca for being so great throughout, and to Charlie and Ruth for their commitment and dedication to getting this cover just right. I know they're going to have huge hit on their hands with this album.
And by the way: The Sunday New York Times ran a feature on the album in the Music section yesterday, which was pretty exciting to see. And there's also a wonderful profile of Rambling Boy on NPR's Sunday edition, with cuts from the album and a great interview with Charlie and the family. Well worth a listen.
Last night—and well into this morning— the 79th All Star game was played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. If it seemed like they didn't want to wrap it up, you could understand: This was the last All Star game to be held in the fabled House That Ruth Built, as it'll be replaced by the time the 2009 season opens. With it goes a cathedral of baseball, and 85 years of American history.
I didn't get to the game—it would have been a tough commute from Austin—but I was honored to play a small part in the experience the folks who did make it there had: the portrait of Babe Ruth above was commissioned by Major League Baseball for last night's All Star game program. I have to admit I was both honored and a bit intimidated by the task, given the special place both the Babe and Yankee Stadium hold in the hearts of fans.
I just opened my mail to find a tearsheet (who gets those anymore?) from Standpoint magazine, a wonderful new political publication based in London. Actually, art director Ingrid Shields sent me the whole July issue, and the cover art by Noma Bar is a standout as well. Thought I'd post them both.
The article I was commissioned to illustrate was a book review of Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem, the autobiographical tale that won the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize, and is a best seller in China. The nomadic life of Inner Mongolia and the bold spirit of the wolves who roam their grasslands, as well as the eventual demise of that culture, are metaphors for Rong's view of contemporary China. I wanted to capture the nobility of the wolf set against the Mongolian foothills, using golfleaf to reinforce both the regal quality and to reflect the graphic nature of traditional Chinese guó huà painting.
This cover double portrait by Noma Bar is amazing in its simplicity, intelligence, and ability to capture the candidates. Wonderful work by the brilliant artist from israel, now living in England.
Here are three new paintings I have in " Big Show 3" at Silas Marder gallery in Bridegehampton, NY May 17-June 22. All three are small (8" x 10" on wood panel) in keeping with the format of this annual show. There'll be 50 different artists exhibiting, each with three panels, and the opening will be 5-8pm Saturday, May 17th. If you're in the area, come take a look.
Just finished this piece for Art Basel Miami, which I'm participating in as part of the KNOW Art Books Exhibition. If you happen to be there December 6-9, then drop in and see the work. There'll be pieces there by Jordin Isip, P-Jay Fidler, Kathie Olivas, Chris Pyle, Jeff Soto, Mark Todd & Esther Watson, Joel Nakamura and many others. The place to be is:
Claremont Hotel No. 215 1700 Collins Avenue (17th St) Miami Beach : FL December 6 – 9 : 2007 10 am - 8 pm
I've been working on a number new paintings for a show that opens this week at Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY (Saturday, November 24th, to be exact). The space itself is beautiful, and I'll have some wonderful company: Camille Rose Garcia, Sandy Litchfield, Tomory Dodge, Diane Giardi, and Mark Romanek, who directed Johnny Cash's famous "Hurt" video, and now has a new feature film coming out. Should be a great show! Here are the details:
Opening Reception Saturday, November 24th, 5-9pm Silas Marder Gallery / 120 Snake Hollow Road / Bridgehampton, NY
As Joseph Fiedler mentioned the other day, if you're in LA on Saturday, November 17th (7:30 opening), check out the GREEN Show at the Robert Berman Gallery, curated by Mr. Mark Murphy. Over 40 artists, myself included, created work for the show, and it will be up until December 22nd. For more details on the exhibition, check out www.robertbermangallery.com or www.murphydesign.com There'll be live music by SSI and the Modlins and many artists to meet:
Jason D Aquino + Jordan Awan + Andrew Brandou + Cathie Bleck+ Marc Burckhardt + William Buzzell + Luke Chueh : David Chung + Amy Crehore +Kevin Christy + Sas Christianson + John Copeland + Bob Dob + andrew foster+ Douglas Fraser + P-Jay Fidler + Joseph Daniel Fiedler + AJ Fosik + Robert Hardgrove + Jody Hewgill + Michael Hussar + Tim Hussey + Jordin Isip + Rich Jacobs + Pamela Jaeger + james jean + David Choong Lee + Anthony Lister + Jen Lobo + Mars-1 + Chris Mostyn + Mark Murphy + Scott Musgrove + Joel Nakamura : Christian Northeast + Martha Rich and Esther Pearl Watson Collaboration + Kathie Olivas + Nathan Ota + Brandt Peters + Jermaine Rogers + Kim Scott + Keith Shore + Jeff Soto + Damon Soule + Matt Stallings + Gary Taxali + Amanda Wachab + Justin Wood
Robert Berman Gallery Bergamot Station Arts Center 2525 Michigan Avenue / C2 / Santa Monica / CA / 90404
Here's my devil portrait for the BLABSHOW, opening tomorrow night at Copro-Nason Gallery. Monte Beauchamp, artist and BLAB! publisher extraordinaire, will also be rolling out the latest issue of BLAB! and debuting the release of his new book DEVILISH GREETINGS: Vintage Devil Postcards. There'll be a second gallery full of those vintage cards. Both shows continue until September 29.
THE BLABSHOW & DEVILISH GREETINGS Saturday, September 8, 8:00-11:30 pm Copro-Nason Gallery 2525 Michigan Ave T5 Santa Monica, CA 310.829.2156
TJ Tucker called me to do this spread portrait of Ron Paul, Texas Congressman and current GOP Presidential candidate, for the August issue of Texas Monthly. The article is entitled "The Elephant in the Room", and discusses Paul's controversial positions (at least in contemporary GOP circles) on the war in Iraq and government intrusion on civil liberties. Seems Paul is against these things! He cites both Jefferson and Washington as warning us against "entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations" and claims that "the biggest threat to your privacy is the government". Come to think of it, those do sound alot like the words of Goldwater Republicans.
Still, he's become a very uncomfortable presence for some in the GOP, and that's the feeling I wanted to capture in this piece. I immediately thought of Rene Magritte's famous painting of an apple, and the sense of claustrophobia it evoked through scale. I also wanted to use color, texture, and physical features to bring out the sense of unease and the connection Paul has with his four-legged roomate. I did this quick sketch for TJ and got started on the piece.
This painting had a fun personal connection for me as well: I went to school at Baylor University years ago with Ron Paul's son, Rand, and he and I were members of a underground gadfly fraternity together. Ron Paul's beliefs seemed far-fetched to many folks back then, but they've gained new converts since, and it's remarkable how consistent his philosophy has been despite a changing world. In that respect, at least, he may have more in common with our current President than we realize.
To listen to Paul's views on the war and the roots of terrorism, and witness the some of the other candidates discomfort with those positions, see this clip from the recent debates:
I've worked on some interesting projects for regional publications over the years, so when John Baxter at Indianapolis Monthly called a few weeks ago with a portrait project that had virtually no reference, I was intrigued. The article, "Warning Signs", was about the Church in Indianapolis (CII) and it's elusive leader, Mike Peters, who has kept such a low profile that practically no photos of him exist. The church apparently owns a number of properties in the New Augusta Woods neighborhood there, and they've erected metal signs that let outsiders know they're not welcome. When strangers do appear, the residents quickly disappear into their homes, peering through their curtains and leaving the streets deserted. Their behavior has become increasingly secretive, and information about their leader is equally difficult to find.
I was in the midst of juggling several deadlines, and John had just a few days to complete the project, but I didn't want to pass this one by. All I had to work with were a few screen grabs from a video message he made for his followers, and the article's title. I wanted to suggest both the reclusive and the Messianic quality of Peters, and quickly sent a rough sketch off to John. He gave me the go ahead right away, and the finished art came shortly thereafter. I liked the challenge of working with only a blurry sense of the character, trying to convey a likeness through emotional qualities more so than physical attributes.
May 19th through June 17th, I'll be exhibiting these new paintings at Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton, New York, as part "The Big Show", which brings together 50 artists from around the world working in a variety of media. There'll be an opening on Saturday, May 19th, from 4-8pm, so if you happen to be in the area, drop in.
TIME released its "100 Most Influential People" issue on Friday, and I was asked this year to create a portrait of Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi and the powerbroker behind India's democratic government. It's always an honor and a challenge to be a part of. Over the years, I've been able to create portraits that mine a range of cultures and historical styles for the "100", so I thought I'd put a few of the past examples up as well.
"The stars at night, are big and bright, Deep in the (he)art of Texas."
Monday and Tuesday were busy days here in Austin, with the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts ceremonies taking place. I was asked to create the art for this year's event, which was used on everything from posters and three-dimensional installations to tickets and gift bags. Janice and I attended most of the events over the last two days, and had a blast!
Grabbing my moment with Mr. Cronkite and Mr. Coleman
This year's honorees included Walter Cronkite, jazz legend Ornette Coleman, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, sculptor Jesus Moroles, and screenwriter Bill Wittliff. After a gala dinner at the historic Driskill Hotel around the corner, we were led by the dancing, drumming performance group Urban 15 over to the awards ceremony itself, held at the Paramount Theater, one Austin's oldest and most beautiful venues and a great architectural jewel of the city.
Presenters for this year's awards included CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, Tommy Lee Jones and piano great Van Cliburn, and bands Del Castillo, the Quebe Sisters(pronounced Kway-bee - check them out , they're amazing!), and Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel fame kept folks entertained with toe-tapping Texas tunes. The night was capped off with champagne and dessert (and lots of dancing) back at the Driskill Hotel.
Some of the goodies
In addition to all this fun, we were invited to a few other special pre-event events, which included a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion, as well as a VIP 'Legislative" reception at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum, which put me and my "plus one" guest, Steve Brodner (down for a Texas Monthly assignment) in close quarters with virtually every power broker and politico in the state. An eye opener for Steve, who has some stories of his own to tell from his visit to our fair city. And now, back to my quiet life again......
Party in the streets with Urban 15, in front of the Paramount and down from the Capitol
Inside the Paramount
Del Castillo, and the Quebe Sisters (these girls are terrific!)
For the last three days, I've been living in the heart of one of the biggest music festivals in the country: South by Southwest. Over 50 venues showcase almost 1400 bands, and most of the action takes place within a short stroll of my house/studio. This year's biggest act was the opening gig of the Stooges new tour, following the release of their first album together in 33 years. The piece above was done a while back for a book and exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it seemed like the right time to break it out.
I'm an Iggy fan from way back, having first seen him live when I was a teenager, and over 20 times since. I even got to meet him once, at a now defunct record store here called the Inner Sanctum, and found him to be a very nice and approachable guy. In concert, however, he's a force of nature, and last night's show was no exception. It's hard to believe that a guy about to turn 60 still looks like this and is willing to throw himself into the moshpit mid-concert to battle it out with the fans (which he did several times last night). The band even invited the crowd up on stage during the final number, which was absolute chaos. All and all, a Fun Time.
Along the way, I saw some other great acts, including my new favorite Peelander Z, a Japanese band now based in NY that's part punk and part Teletubbies, and from what I can tell the official band of Kaiju Big Battel - itself a cross between pro wrestling, bad science fiction movies and performance art. We also saw the Polyphonic Spree, the Little Ones, and a number of other bands that were new to me.
Peelander Z - like nothing you've ever seen.
Another aspect of the Fesitval is the showcase Flatstock, which brings together some of the best gig poster art & artists from around the country. Yee Haw Industries, Methane, Burlesque of North America, and several other great groups that create the most amazing concert art are all under one roof, and selling their posters at very reasonable prices.
Today, the crowds are starting to head home and city is beginning to quiet down again. There's always great music here in Austin, but SXSW represents one of the main reasons this city has developed the reputation it has internationally for music, and one the best times of year to come and see why Austin is a destination.
In the March issue of Mother Jones, there's a piece written by Bill Donahue about a visit he made to the swamps of south Florida, where Tom Monaghan, the billionaire founder of Domino's Pizza, is building an ultraconservative Catholic university and gated community. Done in the style of an illuminated manuscript, my images make clear that Bill wasn't exactly welcome on the campus of Ave Maria.
This was an article that hit home for me, as I went to a religiously affiliated university myself, though a Baptist one. We seem to be living in a time where more and more Americans of different beliefs and political affiliations want to live separate lives, apart from the influence of those they disagree with. This is just one of the more extreme examples, but it's a growing trend. An interesting topic, made all the more complex in our current political climate. To read Bill's article, click the Mother Jone's link here.
".....I am unable as of now to escape the feeling that George Bush has done what is, for a president, a very dangerous thing. He has surrounded himself with people who have the same way of looking at the world as he does. He has surrounded himself with people who tell him only what he wants to hear."
Done for Rolling Stone's Immortal issue, just a few months after his passing
Today marks what would have been the 75th birthday of one of American music's greatest talents, Johnny Cash. I thought this would be an appropriate time to post a few of my Cash-related images and share the best story I'll ever have to tell about how art can take you through doors.
Back in early 2003 I got a call from Dualtone records to do June Carter Cash's upcoming album, "Wildwood Flower", but before the project got past the scheduling stage, June passed away, following heart surgery. I'd already received a copy of the recordings, and was blown away by how moving these songs were: mostly Carter family classics, they were done with Johnny and her daughter-in-law Laura Cash, as well as a host of other family & friends, and most of the songs were recorded in the living room of her ancestral home in Virginia. Unlike anything I heard before, this was an album about love, family and the awareness of its inevitable end. I'd lost my own mother not long before, and this music spoke to me.
The Wildwood cover
After a few weeks, the project restarted, and working with their son, John Carter Cash (who produced the album), I created the cover art. Not long after, I got a call from John Carter asking if I might be willing to come to Hendersonville, Tennessee, and paint another portrait of June in the home of Johnny Cash himself; apparently, my portrait of June on Wildwood was his all time favorite, and he wanted a version for himself. As soon as I could pick my jaw up off the floor, I said of course. So in early August, 2003, I spent 3 days there working on the piece in his lakeside home - the one you see in the movie - while he came and went. At the end of my stay, they invited me across the road and over a hill to the Cash Cabin Studio, literally a tiny cabin in the woods, where I sat in while Johnny, Marty Stuart, John Carter and a few others recorded some songs (including Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day"). He even did a a cappella version of Jack of Diamonds. Just over a month later, I got the news he too had passed away.
I've had the honor of doing alot of music-related work, and along the way gotten to meet some amazing folks through the serendipity that it sometimes brings, but I doubt I'll ever have an experience that measures up to meeting the great Johnny Cash. People like him come along once a generation, if that, and on a day like today, I'm thankful for that remarkable experience.
There's been a lot of discussion of food here as we head into the holidays, so this seemed like an appropriate piece to highlight. Texas Monthly art director TJ Tucker asked me to do a year end cover for them on the best tacos in the state. All he had to do was mention Mexican food and I was there. In addition to the cover art, TJ commissioned a series of interior pieces by Ross MacDonald, an old friend and illustration master. A worthwhile issue for anyone interested in good eating, Tex-Mex style.
For the last month I've been working night and day on paintings for a show that opens Saturday at Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery in Pasadena, CA, and runs through October 24th. If any of you happen to be in the area for the opening on Saturday, October 7th, 7-9pm, I'd love to see you there. The details are: