be back soon

* the september page from my illustrated calendar: the 12 labors of hercules*

Labels: , , ,


the tent revival of art

the charming bandit at  fink 

On friday night betty and i attended a tent revival of art; a reunion with a pantheon of southern saints and icons at the slotin folk fest.

Jesus, Elvis, Robert Johnson, Hank, the Devil, snake handlers (left: randy tobias pottery ), face jugs, penitentes, circus freaks and every stripe of wooden and metal creature are alive and well in this concrete cathedral to outsider art.

"outsider" now seems less about isolation and lack of exposure to formal art forms and training and more about savvy business people and freedom loving individuals who want to be independent of middlemen and at liberty to express themselves creativly in every aspect of their lives. there is an exquisite vibe of enterprising spirit here; people who have figured out that the journey is the art and the lifestyle its reward.  i found the art, for the most part, to be more engaging than a years worth of scholarly art exhibits that have often left me indifferent and bored.

c.m.laster in his art shack

C. M Laster's art shack was the quintessential southern art shrine with art made from discarded housing materials, busted up toys, ouija boards, old signs, and whatever he could find. found this great shot of his dog in elvis drag at lasters art shack website and bookmarked my next bed and breakfast destination too; an art trailer in his back yard.

I bought this fine piece from the laster art shack, because one can never be reminded often enough of this simple truism. its nice to find that there is still one place left on earth where moral relativism hasnt crowded out all notions of sin. folk art hell is traditional; lakes of fire; devils. fine art hell is living in the oppressive state of america under the bush regime or not being properly celebrated for your vegan pubic hair installation.

at the red truck gallery booth there were some amazing quilted valentines by chris roberts-antieau to blues icons, boxers, hussies, as well as a series of circus poster like pieces by bryan cunningham constructed of canvas pulled and suspended with canned soda pull tabs over a box like construction.

i liked the lucha libre one featuring a wrestler with a snake man surface. the strings holding the image worked out well visually suggesting a wrestling ring. a friend of betty's told me about a great lucha libre book printed on cheap paper with pulpy illustrations...but that in the center were full color portraits of various luchadors posing in their living rooms. ive got to get that.

also at red truck was a case with an odd parade of sculptural figures including this elephant pulling a rolling tank of sea monkeys. i loved the mission statement of the gallery which was to define a group of artists that they really believed in, and to follow them for their entire career.

jeremy abernathy and jerry culum

i ran into atlanta art critic, fellow north florida native and poet extraordinaire jerry culum and new atlanta art critic and freelancer jeremy abernathy of Ghostmap outside of one of my favorite discoveries of the evening...the trio of canadian artists that are "minivan". looking at the work by Casey McGlynn i commented that in my own work i needed to relax the hell up, to which jeremy replied that was sound advice all the way around. jeremy, like many of us, is a beneficiary of the new egalitarian approach to publishing, though sorting out how one might make a living this way is still unclear.

casey mcglynn

McGlynn's work was highly personal: one was this painting of the initial rejection by his now girlfriend. the girlfriend was portrayed in this and all the paintings as the bird girl, and he, another interpretation of the bald everyman. the backgrounds were rich with expressive figures and sheets of notebook paper with red marks and personal symbolism.

i was really impressed with the paintings like the elephant below. they were an odd taxonomy of animals ordered in boxes and painted roadways; figures scratched and layered and layered yet again. sometimes i would discover another creature tucked in somewhere that was barely perceptible at first glance. the whole piece was very alive with movement. if i had money to burn, i would have started a bonfire here.

also at minivan was clint griffin who's mixed media pieces were dense with scenes of figures in these weird psycho dramas. one figure had a spiral on her head which looked like padded head gear. she appeared to kneel upon another figure while each covered their noses, a brushy head made of fire and an encounter with a cheerleader in a stairwell were remembered in the same space. there was more behind that even, which reminded me of the other pieces he exhibited. he had stacked bundles of found photographs about 3 inches thick and put an altered photo on top; edited by painting over sections to create another reality that seemed post biological disaster with its barren landscapes and noseless faces.

on the color front, Karl Mullen's drawings made with pure powdered pigments, wax and walnut oil were show stoppers. his process gave the surface of the paper an antique heavy feel but maintaining rich color and velvety surface. There is a ton of folk art that features these kind of hairless every-men with tent like bodies; in this case the figures looked like a series of self-portraits though the artist statement categorizes them as musicians, ghosts and whiskey kings inspired by irish poetry myth and folklore.

one of the drawings was a Klimtian riff on the woman cloaked in a decorative coat; now a balding king possessing a good bit more intensity than the *possible* inspiration. interesting that for all his linear vibrancy, this king was contained in a form reminiscent of a sarcophagus reminding me of egyptian kings trapped under glass in a museum.

anthony pack , a former creative at shoebox (hallmark) greetings had left that job behind and started urban folk art. all of his sculptures were excellent and filled with wit and humor. I loved the wreaths constructed of plastic toys and decorations surrounded by sunrays of cut and patterned tin.

I had a hard time selecting a character from anthony's wall of characters. i liked the freeze queen (far left) and the zig zag man but in the end i purchased the paprika man (left: hanging in my kitchen window) mainly because we dont have any damn shelves to place another object on.

i also bought this Randy tobias pot and wanted to get a devil too but just could not afford it. Betty had better discipline than i did, but she expressed non buyers remorse on the way home.

at fink i found an astounding array of products from 3 dollar drawings on sugar packets and plastic bottle caps to ten dollar tiny pieces of his soul:
he also got my attention because he had designed some toys and had them licensed which yielded him a monthly royalty check. he told me he had been self supporting on art for nine years and was having a great time at work each day. The piece Gus Fink is holding was a collaborative work made with his friend the art bandit.

I wanted to buy a piece by matt sesow represented by the alcove right here in decatur, an inside the perimeter neighborhood of Atlanta. both betty and i respond to these new school basquiat style drawings probably because our work is so precise and orderly. this drawing was similar in content to the randy tobias piece i had just purchased, and to several other grimacing characters in the show. they all reminded me of pee-wee herman's anxiety expression. this ubiquitous grimace suggested an amused southern version of the munchian scream; each specific to the makers experiences and observations but universal in capturing the zeitgeist of 21st century apprehension.

Labels: , ,


california in 2 (and some change) minutes

* edited down to a short 2:15 from the original *

Labels: , , , , ,


miracle in oaxaca

feathers fell from queztacoatl
and formed into bleeding volcanoes
i scratched though the veil and sipped from the bottle
and i thought to myself si, bueno.

the spirit world squirmmed and came alive
like amoebas in the drink
sugar calaveras laughed in my face
it's closer than you think.

i climbed to the end of monte alban
the verde was far and wide
the pulque kicked in the journey was on
velasco was there by my side

resplendent and golden the sky
touched the earth and i lost my footing it seemed
i told the temporal world good-bye
the sun virgin burned and she beamed

"things are not as they appear
its enough that you are! just be.
you would be living except for your fear
the past is just psychic debris"

somewhere the sound of a horn exploded
and the bus it pulled away
el barracho was on sickly and loaded
but milagros were offered that day

still looking for a burning bush?
or a vapor behind the door?
i'll show you a miracle in my life
a hole in the rusted out floor

back came the pulque from inside to out
while riding with chickens and goats
bumping along on a dusty route
in a mexican town remote.

Labels: , , , ,