Saturday, February 6, 2010
One of the reasons I am grateful for the path I've chosen is due to the imagination of my parents. In 1971, my father brought home for my mother this baby monkey. It was purchased straight out of the incubator, from Peggy Woods Pet Store in Burbank.
For the next 38 years she would grace our lives as my little sister. My Dad named her, "Siwa", which is Swahili for, "Gorilla". (My father's humor was dry as the Sahara Desert).
My Mom was given an opportunity of a lifetime; to raise this wild animal not only as a pet, but as a daughter. Siwa replaced me as the Baby of the Family, and it would be like having a brilliant three year old in our lives, for almost four decades, which sometimes seemed like forever.
No matter where I would go in life, or what I would do, I would always have this little creature in my background. Now where it would influence me may not be so obvious to my collectors or appreciators, but there were many times I would sit drawing and painting my school projects, in the same room as Siwa. She would always be there, inside her indoor cage; moving around, looking at me, talking, screaming, keeping a watchful eye on what I was doing.
There were occasions when she would escape from her cage, (this is an adventure I will write about later), and she would make her way over on to my drawing table, and demonstrate to her big brother, just how to draw correctly, right on my artwork. Other times we would let her out for an evening, to run around and frolic with our cat, "Miss Kitty", and we would give her a pad of paper with a pencil, pen, or crayon. She would immediately start to paint or scribble.
These scribbles looked mostly like hash marks; general gestures of dynamic pencil strokes. In retrospect, they were quite brilliant and expressive, and it was obvious she enjoyed this creative process. Oh yeah, this was an outlet for her primal instincts. I could learn from her. This taught me not only how to relate animals, but how to make spontaneous marks on a piece of paper and turn them into an imagination painting.
It also helped me to relate to Abstract artists. I now understand a little more about the abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock, and his depth of perception realized through the layering of paint dripped on canvas. Much like Picasso, he was trying to let lose the creativity of the child within, and through his metier, scribbling was one way to begin!
Photo: Siwa and Betty Lee Stein, 1985
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Another magical night. First Thursday Art Walk was well attended, (better than January)
I loaded up my easel and paints and set up again in the heart of the creative environment of the La Arcada Court yard. After an incredible Majestic martini I began to create an abstracted painting, where I held the reins loose and let the Painting paint itself. I won't know for sure how I feel about the painting until tomorrow morning.
Hopefully I won't be wondering who ruined it over night.
So, tonight it was about placing myself in the heart of the art walk, painting, and engaging the public who were curious as to what I was doing. Everything was alive.
It is good to be producing with intention.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Not all is bedlam.
Just down the street from the Bedlam Bar was this nice little park with stone stalagmites. Very natural looking; the moss was sometimes bog-like.
Lots of old old memories of times past, this final resting places for mortals.
Whenever I paint in a cemetery I put out a warm welcome to the silence surrounding me, so just in case when I get the chills running up my spine, or hairs standing up on the back of my neck, I won't feel like I should skedaddle!
It's a great place to commune with spirit, and hear the stories.
April 10, 2003
Bedlam Bar Opens in London. Eringer [the mysterious), relaxing stylishly on his stool, underneath a tromp l'oeil lamp painted by Jimmy. Black lights illuminate the mural of the Royal Bethlehem Mental Hospital. Van Gogh's "Starry Night" is painted on the ceiling.
Two of my paintings adorn the walls: Jack Nicholson smiling through a splintered door exclaiming, "Heeers Johnny!", also a morose Edgar Allen Poe posing in front of Raven wall paper.
The image of the white androgynous figure with hands spread apart is "High and Low". purchased from Van Gogh's Asylum, from the gift shop. St. Paul du Masoule is now an insane asylum for women, and they have art therapy classes for the patients. The patients can sell their work in the gift shop. And if it doesn't sell, they can take their frustrations out; safely behind bars. Sweet deal!
Back to Bedlam...
It was sanctuary for mental cases; (and England has it's share). If you weren't mental before you arrived, your mind was tweaked before you left. There was never a dull moment, and all fools were gladly suffered!
Every night WAS a full moon...
Monday, February 1, 2010
The Bedlam bar was up and running; in full swing. It was the Buzz of London.
We'd just returned from a journey to Gheel, Belgium, where we'd gone on a successful trip to retrieve the relics of St. Dymphna, (the patron saint of Mental illness).
Along with relics we brought back some orbs, which graced our pictures in the Cathedral of St. Amand, as well in this upstairs room of Bedlam.
The bar was packed; it was Jazz night. I got the urge to paint, so I grabbed my easel and paint box and ran across Heath Street to set up and paint this painting of the Bedlam Bar under the full moon. If one looks closely, they can see the image of the mural painted inside the building behind the bar; of The Royal Betheleham Mental Hospital. It was painted in florescent paint.
The figure in the window is none other than Eringer (the mysterious) appearing like Anthony Perkin's Mother in the window of the mansion above the Bates Hotel in the movie, "Psycho".
In this case, Life imitated Art...
Bedlam Under a Full Moon 8x5, oil/panel
Sunday, January 31, 2010
At the time of this painting Iceland was known for having the highest suicide rate, per capita, than any country in the World. Isolation; cultural and geographical limitations, create a "no way out" belief system which once accepted begins a slow spiraling down into the frozen abyss.
Any sign of mental illness; berserkness, quirkiness, could land you in the "Klepper", or "House by the Blue Bay". Once placed there, your reputation in Iceland is stigmatized, and you are branded for life, no matter who's son or daughter you are.
After being picked-up by Kristjan, and warming my frost bitten toes, we all had a conversation about Madness and Creativity. The spirit of Van Gogh entered our presence again, and Eringer (the Mysterious) talked about paying homage to Vincent Van Gogh. Why not travel to Arles, France, where he went mad? I could paint my own 'starry night'.
What would it be like to go to the asylum where he was committed? I wondered, what would it be like to paint that asylum? After all, it was here that he painted the most important nocturnes in art history, "Starry Night". We started planning our trip to leave next Winter, for France, 2002.
The local (or loco) art of native Icelanders seemed rather bizarre; like Outsider Art- art on the edge, depicting Moon-like landscapes with strange compositions, and symbols integrated into the paintings, which gave a hint at narration, with a twist of Island Fever.
A wee bit berserk, but what does one expect from the yalping vikings?