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4/16: Johnny Angel Wendell Looking For Lady Dee

Looking-for-Lady-DeeLooking for Lady Dee:
A Punk Rock Mystery

Book Release & Signing Party

Book launch, reading and signing
with author Johnny Angel Wendell
Thursday, April 16, 2015
7-9 PM

La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Looking For Lady Dee (A Punk Rock Mystery) is a one of a kind story paralleling the career of a second wave punk band (Thrills) with the disappearance of one of its fans. The story of the late 70’s/early 80’s popular music scene is the backdrop. Author Johnny Angel Wendell tells all with pinpoint accuracy and wicked detail. Lurid, vivid and relentless in its descriptions of rock music’s unholy triumvirate (sex, drugs and the music itself) from an author that lived it and survived and his cohorts, many of whom did not. The author recounts, as the 23 year old Johnny Angel, his history in the movement as a sullen, surly squirt leaning very much on negative charisma and impulsive street smarts to get ahead in the demi-monde of punk/New Wave. And the disappearance of his love, a very good girl gone very bad, Ms. Dee McClain. As the 50 something Johnny Angel Wendell, he is contacted online by Ms. McClain’s best friend from the same music scene, Linda “Vivienne DeMilo” Boudreaux and together they piece together Dee’s story through hard work and a bit of old fashioned chicanery. What happened to their mutual friend leads them to places they never dreamed existed and in many ways, they thought they’d seen it all! Inspired by writers like Raymond Chandler, Lester Bangs, Bukowski, Richard Hell and Dennis Lehane, “Looking For Lady Dee” is not another middle aged look back at a wasted youth, but a hard-nosed twisting and turning tome of discovery and resolution.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: X+Z Publishing; 1 edition (February 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0996138803
ISBN-13: 978-0996138802
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 15 ounces

Johnny Wendell’s Looking for Lady Dee is a wildass, thrill-a-minute, insider’s ride through the punk rock inferno–written bya man who made the scene and somehow survived to talk about it. Think Bukowski meets Sid & Nancy, or Please Kill Me re-crafted by Dennis Lehane. With Lady Dee, Wendell has cooked up a nasty, sexy, beer-splattered, dope soaked kick-in-the-face-of-a-mystery. Not for the faint of heart–and not to be missed. —Jerry Stahl

Johnny writes with pinpoint accuracy, brutal honesty, and a healthy dose of arrogance. The one thing he’s always done, when he sets his mind to it, is deliver. Like his music and his politics his writing comes straight from the center of his heart. It’s hard to find someone who is so passionate about everything he does while simultaneously leading you to believe he does not give a fuck. Read Johnny’s book you will not be disappointed. —Dicky Barrett

About the author
Johnny Angel Wendell is a radio host, actor, musician and writer. He lives with his wife and sons in Silverlake, Los Angeles, California.

Only books purchased at the gallery will qualify for signing.
Reserve your signed copies today!
Contact the book store for purchase information.
(323) 663-0122 or or click here to purchase your copy online.



Vanity Projects Residency at Pehrspace March 28-April 25

Vanity Projects Residency at Pehrspace
A month of art and music events curated by Geoff Geis / Vanity Projects
March 28-April 25


325 Glendale Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Geoff Geis has been an active contributor to LA’s vast and varied underground scene for the past decade as a musician, artist, and correspondent for LA Record and other publications. Geis’ boutique cassette label Vanity Projects is in charge of curating the art and music for Pehrspace from March 28-April 25.

Geis has built the month around friendship and collaboration, reaching out to people who have made the community so rich over the years.

Events include a one-night only revival of the long-standing Sean Carnage Mondays series that ended last year, a Craft Night with the people behind the LA Zine Fest, a new installment of the absurdist variety show Charm School, an Easter Karaoke and potluck, and musical performances by acts including So Many Wizards, Emily Lacy, Signor Benedick the Moor, Spooks, Ghost Noise, Sweet Bump it, a reunited Big Whup, and more. Large, colorful, and abstract works by artists Anne-Louise Ewen, Ghost Ghost Teeth, and Nora Quinn will adorn the walls for the entirety of the residency.

Facbook (main) even page
SoundCloud playlist

All events start at 9pm
Opening reception
Monday, March 28
Free/All Ages

The first 25 attendees will receive a cassette single (with digital download) by Geoff Geis including exclusive material unavailable elsewhere.


Anne-Louise Ewen
anne louise ewenLos Angeles-based artist and designer Anne-Louise Ewen has been creating artwork professionally since 1994 when she graduated from an arts-focused magnet boarding school in Louisiana and moved to Paris, France. A Faulknerian childhood in the Deep South strengthened her resolve to bring art into existence instead of waiting for it to come to her.

She invents processes and explores unconventional uses of media to discover beauty and to create paintings that bear evidence of the physical actions she takes as well as the less predictable contributions of time and space. This evidence, she says, puts her in conspiracy with what happened at its creation.

In the series of paintings I’m creating now, titled The Cooling, Calming Night, (for Geoff Geis’ Vanity Projects Residency at Pehrspace), wanted to expand the boundaries of freedom in my work by painting directly on raw, unstretched canvas and to dare myself to create exquisiteness in increasingly experimental ways, using resin and various media, including acrylic ink, charcoal and gold sign paint. – Anne-Louise Ewen

Vietnamese American artist Simon Tran, a.k.a. ghost ghost teeth, creates internal landscapes that allude to a certain cultural hybridity. Tran uses the language of abstraction to reference rainbow herbicides–Agent Orange being the most widely known– used during the Vietnam War. He creates lush jungle landscapes have a viral nature to them. He paints topographical hard edged organic shapes commingle with sweeping gestural marks that create a visceral experience.

Though he was located for a long time in Long Beach, Tran has recently moved to Berkeley where he attends UC and is represented by the Compound gallery. It was in Berkeley that he created the works on display during the Vanity Projects residency.

nora quinnNora Quinn
Nora Quinn’s creations are part Keith Haring, part Lisa Frank, and full of every color in the rainbow. Her mixed media formations are made by chopping and reassembling digital prints, painted textures, found colors and glittery pieces into their own sparkling, gem-like motifs.

Born in Philadelphia, Nora comes from a background in Graphic Design and Textiles. She continues to approach art from multiple disciplines in an effort to envelope her audience in pigmented particles as a welcome assault on the senses.




geoff geisGeoff Geis (ex-Pizza!, Big Whup)
Geoff Geis, who curated the Vanity Projects Residency at Pehrspace, has participated in a variety of LA musical projects including prog-punk virtuosos Pizza!, newly reunited indie pop rockers Big Whup, and as the bassist for a short time in dreampunk band So Many Wizards. Although he rarely plays live as a solo artist, his recordings have garnered him a large international digital fanbase on sites including SoundCloud, on which he has accumulated more than 1.2 million followers worldwide and through which he has collaborated with artists as far-flung as Tokyo.

coup pigeonsCoup Pigeons

and DJ Taylor of KXLU’s the Windmills of Your Mind





Other events upcoming:

Monday, March 30
Sean Carnage Presents Hot Fudge Mondae
$5/All Ages

Friday, April 3
First Fridays with Eli and Mary,
featuring Dawn of Sequins, Crown Plaza, Ghost Noise, and Sweet Bump It
$5/ All Ages

Monday, April 6
LA Zine Fest Craft night
Free / All Ages

Friday, April 10
Vanity Projects and Playtime Posse Compilation Release Party
$5 / All Ages
The first 50 attendees receive a free compilation CD including a variety of local musicians

Saturday, April 11
Disco Cisco’s Charm School
$5/ All Ages

Saturday, April 18
Vanity Projects presents Bür Gür, Eye Seas, Le Cos, & lilacs
$5 / All Ages

Sunday, April 19
A night curated by DM Collins

Saturday, April 25
Big Whup Reunion and Residency Closing


3/6-8: Jesika von Rabbit International Radio Debut

Jesika von Rabbit’s spicy track, “Psychic Spice”, from her upcoming Journey Mitchell album on Royal Order (CD to be released March 21) and Dionysus Records/Royal Order (LP to be released late Spring – early Summer)  will debut on INTERNATIONAL radio via Jonathan L’s “Lopsided World of L” Radio Show, to air March 6-8!

The track is also featured in a video directed by Jessica Janos.









Listen to Lopsided World of L – March 6- 8

See set-list here Website

Featuring the international radio debut of  Jesika von Rabbit


Friday March 6 on Athens Greece 14:00 GMT- 15:00 CET- 16:00 EETin America: 6am Pacific- 7am AZ- 8am Central- 9am East Coast

Friday March 6 Liverpool, England6- 8 pm in United Kingdom – 7pm Central Europe America:10am Pacific- 11am AZ- Noon Central- 1pm East Coast

Saturday March 7 Los Angeles 11am Pacific- NOON AZ- 1pm Central- 2pm East Coast in Europe: 19:00 GMT- 20:00 CET- 21:00 EET

Sunday March 8 on Berlin, Germany 21:00 GMT- 22:00 CET- 23:00 EETin America 1pm Pacific- 2pm AZ- 3pm Central- 4pm East Coast(rebroadcast following Tuesday & Thursday (same times)

Sunday March 8 on Tucson, Arizona 11pm- 1am Rock 102 FM

Sunday March 8 on Los Angeles (rebroadcast) 10pm Pacific- 11pm AZ- Midnight Central- 11pm AZ- 1am East Coast (Europe is wee hours Monday morning)

Sunday March 8 107.5 FM New Zealand 8-10pm in New Zealand –6-8pm Sydney, Australia Saturday March 7 11pm Pacific CoastSunday March 8 morning 7am U.K.- 8am Central Europe

Same edition runs following Wednesday on KWSS 93.9 FM Phoenix at 10pm AZ time

Same edition runs following Thursday on Radio Andra Gothenburg 11am Pacific- NOON AZ- 1pm Central- 2pm East Coast in Europe: 19:00 GMT- 20:00 CET- 21:00 EET


3/21: Temple of Art Book Release & Signing La Luz de Jesus

Temple of Art Book Release & Signing Party
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 7-10pm

La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Temple-of-Art_bookTemple of Art documents a two-year art and photography project; a unique collaboration between over 50 great artists and photographer/director Allan Amato that includes original work incorporating multiple modalities and disciplines.

The exhibition opened at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in December, and quickly became the talk of the internet. Many of the original pieces were snatched up by celebrity collectors, but the book reproduces all of them in a handsome, hardcover volume published by Baby Tattoo Books.

Many of the participants will be present to sign the books and discuss the feature film documentary that has evolved out of this unique project.

The List of Contributors:

Allan Amato, Adnohia, Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Thies, Christiane Shillito, Christine Wu, Coop, Dadushin, Danni Shinya Luo, Dave McKean, David Stoupakis, David Mack, Denys Cowan, Dongyun Lee, Dorian Iten, Gail Potocki, Grant Morrison, Greg Ruth, Hueman, Jasmine Worth, Jason Shawn Alexander, JAW Cooper, Jenna Gibson, Jensine Eckwall, Jim Mahfood, John Malloy, Jon Burgerman, Junko Mizuno, Justin Volz, Kellesimone Waits, Ken Garduno, Kent Williams, Kozyndan, Kurt Huggins, Kyle Stecker, Marc Scheff, Mark Buckingham, Matt Kennedy, Matthew Bone, Matthew Levin, Megan Hutchinson, Molly Crabapple, Nicole Maloof, Ping Zhu, Rebecca Guay, Roman Dirge, Rovina Cai, Satine Phoenix, Scott Fischer, Shaun Berke, Soey Milk, Stephanie Inagaki, Teresa Fischer, Vincent Castiglia, You Jung Byun, Zak Smith, Zelda Devon.

A complete gallery of images from the book and exhibition can be found here.

Temple of Art
by Allan Amato, et al.
9 x 12.25 x 1″

Only books and records purchased here will qualify for signing.
Reserve your signed copies today!
Contact the book store for purchase information.
(323)663-0122 or or click here to purchase your copy online.


3/14: Gimme Shelter Celebrities & Their Pets – La Luz de Jesus

LaLuzdeJesus_gimme-shelterGimme Shelter:
Celebrities and Their Pets
Book Signing Party

Saturday, March 14, 2015, 6-9pm

La Luz de Jesus Gallery
Soap Plant / Wacko
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 666-7667

Confirmed celebrities signing the book along with photographer/author Suzanne Allison are: Melora Walter (Boogie Nights), John J. York (General Hospital), Eden Riegel (All My Children), more info forthcoming.

A five year labor of love by Photographer Suzanne Allison, “Gimme Shelter” contains beautiful photos featuring notable celebrities such as Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried, Courtney Cox, Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Demi Moore with their pets. The heartfelt foreword by Johnny Depp and touching quote from Matthew Modine set the tone for this intimate look at celebrities and their pets.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Gimme Shelter will go to The Amanda Foundation’s mobile spay/neuter clinic, The Brittany Foundation, Pet Orphans of Southern California as well as many other animal charities and rescues.

Gimme Shelter serves as a tribute to all of the pets featured and to all pets that have had the good fortune of being in safe loving homes. Our intention is to inspire everyone to treat their pets as family members. In an effort to alleviate overcrowded shelters and rescues, we urge all to SPAY/NEUTER and MICROCHIP!

Thank you for your continued support.

About the author:

Suzanne Allison has had a camera in her hands since she was 13 years old. Her outstanding work in concert photography speaks for itself, but her real gift is capturing touching moments with people and their pets. Suzanne believes that these beautiful creatures are the real stars of “Gimme Shelter”. The greatest accomplishment we can achieve with this book will be opening peoples eyes to the overwhelming numbers of pets that are abandoned and how it IS possible to greatly reduce the number of dogs and cats in shelters. Please SPAY/ NEUTER and MICROCHIP your pets… educate your children and teach them that pets are not toys. They are to be treated kindly with respect and love… Give love, Get love… pretty simple.

Gimme Shelter
ISBN: 978-0-615-90321-7
Price: $75.00 USD

Only books purchased here will qualify for signing.
Reserve your signed copies today!
Contact the book store for purchase information.
(323)663-0122 or or click here to purchase your copy online.


3/7: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller book release blast!


I Fought the Law: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller book release blast!

Saturday, March 7, 2-5 PM
La Luz de Jesus Gallery / Soap Plant / Wacko
(starting two doors down at Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop, and continuing with a nighttime show at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank)
4633 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Los Angeles book launch for I Fought the Law: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller is set for March 7 at La Luz De Jesus Gallery/Soap Plant/Wacko– one month after the BF4 recording of I Fought the Law is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame on February 7.


Book launch and concert featuring original Bobby Fuller Four members confirmed for Saturday March 7 in Los Angeles and Burbank.


…on July 18, 1966, at the age of 23 and with a Top 10 hit on the charts, Bobby Fuller was found dead in the front seat of a car doused in gasoline outside his Hollywood apartment. ‘I Fought The Law,’ named after Fuller’s most iconic recording, is the first ever authorized biography of the ill-fated 1960’s Texas music legend. Norton Records/Kicks Books co-founder and Fuller biographer Miriam Linna, has teamed up with Bobby’s brother and bandmate Randell, to reveal the true story of the short life and strange death of Bobby Fuller.

Randell opens up for the first time about growing up with Bobby– from their idyllic Southwestern childhood in Texas, New Mexico, and Utah, to their teen-age years in the burgeoning El Paso music scene, to the Hollywood helter skelter that would claim Bobby’s life. His death remains a mystery, with much conjecture and misinformation on al fronts.

Bobby Fuller was immersed in all aspects of music—writing, performing, recording, and marketing. He first appeared on record in 1958, at the age of fifteen. While still in his teens, he started his own band and record company, and built a home studio with Randell. By the age of 21, he owned his own teen club in El Paso, with his group, the Fanatics, as the house band. The club closed in ’64, and the group lit out for Los Angeles. They were soon recording for the Mustang label as the Bobby Fuller Four. Enormously popular locally, the BFF landed two singles in the Billboard charts – 1965’s “Let Her Dance,” and the iconic “I Fought The Law” in 1966, which vaulted them to the national and international stage.

Though recorded by everyone from the Crickets on down, Bobby Fuller’s version of “I Fought The Law” remains definitive version. Next month it will be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.

Miriam Linna has written extensively about Bobby Fuller, particularly for several collections of his recordings, which appear on New York’s Norton Records label. She collects and catalogs true crime magazines, paperback books and pulps, and edits Bad Seed, a compendium of teen-age crime in pop culture from 1949-1959. She has written about music and crime since 1975. Her articles have appeared in several publications including Crime Beat, the Guardian, Spin, Seventeen, Loops Journal, and Kicks.

Randell Fuller is Bobby Fuller’s brother and band mate. Only two years apart in age, they were often mistaken for twins as children. As bass player for the Bobby Fuller Four, and the El Paso Fanatics before that, Randell and Bobby were inseparable. The gruesome death of his brother sent Randell into a tailspin from which it would take him years to recover. He has rarely given interviews, and only now opens up to reveal untold information.

A book launch with the authors in Los Angeles is set for March 7 at La Luz De Jesus Gallery. Hollywood denizen DJ Howie Pyro is set for presentation, and a pre-book blast hair event is scheduled at Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop two doors down from La Luz De Jesus Gallery. Join the authors (and make an appointment!) as the expert hair hoppers at the hair emporium perform maneuvers that will result in Sebring-esque 60’s joys such as the “Exeter”, the “Mustang”, and the “Eastwood”, suitable for style conscious individuals of all persuasions. Exeter perfume will be demonstrated as a hair freshener, and will be available exclusively at the shop.

Randell Fuller and original Bobby Fuller Four drummer Dewayne Quirico will perform songs of the Bobby Fuller Four that night as their “Let Her Dance” goes head to head and toe to toe with “Let’s Dance”, as Chris Montez also performs a rocking’ set, with Deke Dickerson as band leader. Deke and Howie Pyro are scheduled to DJ with mid sixties floor fillers.

I Fought the Law: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller as told through the eyes of his brother Randy.
Fuller’s teenage home garage recordings are pure, wild and heartstopping anthems that pushed him into the Hollywood big leagues where he was no longer in control of his music and career. The title song, plus Let Her Dance, Another Sad And Lonely Night, Shakedown and so many others are all world-class rock and roll favorites. He wrote the songs, recorded them in a garage studio that he built with Randy, released them on his own record labels, promoted and supported them himself, and opened his own teenage night club in El Paso. He was the king of the scene, and soon found himself bound for the coast where he wanted to bring his vision to a larger audience. This book tells the story of his early years, through the Texas teen days, and into the last eighteen months of his life when his career skyrocketed into the music charts, television and the movies, and he became an unwilling pawn to powerbrokers with little regard for his talent. He was found dead in a car, doused in gasoline, in July of 1966.

I Fought the Law: The Life and Strange Death of Bobby Fuller 1942-1966
By Miriam Linna and Randell Fuller
This trade paperback (6″ x 9″), printed in a 330 page first edition of 1,966 copies, is now also available as an Kindle Kicks ebook.
Kicks Books (KBM1) ISBN 978 1 940157 95 5​​​​​​

EXETER FRAGRANCE One precocious avoirdupois half ounce, equal parts Texas glory, Hollywood glitz and NYC sizzle. Ltd promotional fragrance. Bodacious allure for both he and she, not for the timid! Named for Bobby’s own Texas label, packaged in signature Kicks Perfume gift box with a record spindle, of course.

BOBBY FULLER – I FOUGHT THE LAW (Original 1964 demo version) / A NEW SHADE OF BLUE (45-187) 1964 version recorded in Bobby’s El Paso home studio! Pre-dates Exeter and Mustang releases! First time on 45!

Only books and records purchased at La Luz de Jesus will qualify for signing.
Reserve your signed copy today!
Contact the book store for purchase information.
(323)663-0122 or


2/22-4/19: Robert Williams SLANG Aesthetics! at LAMAG

Decline of Sophistication

Decline of Sophistication

Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics!
February 22nd – April 19th, 2015

Guest Curators: Andrew Hosner (Thinkspace)
& Gary Pressman (Copro Gallery)
Invitation Only Reception:
Saturday, February 21st from 6-11PM


Public First View: Sunday, February 22nd 2-5PM

On view: Sunday, February 22nd – April 19th, 2015
Gallery Hours 12-5PM, Thursday – Sunday
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery

FOR MORE INFORMATION – interview opportunities – images contact Lee Joseph at Reverberations Media

(Los Angeles) – The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and Juxtapoz magazine in association with Thinkspace Gallery and Copro Gallery are pleased to present new works by Robert Williams. SLANG Aesthetics! is on view at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery from February 22nd to April 19th, 2015. The exhibition is Robert Williams’ first major body of work to make its debut in Los Angeles in well over a decade, and will feature 25 new oil paintings by the artist alongside a suite of drawings, and a series of large-scale sculptures fabricated with the assistance of Gentle Giant Studios.

Robert Williams is widely upheld as the godfather of the low brow and pop surrealist art movements, and with as much frequency denigrated as an irreverent iconoclast among the arbiters of “high” art. As both patriarch and outlaw, Williams’ enduring influence on the New Contemporary movement is undeniable. A true maverick who sought to create vital work that channeled the shifting energies and immediacy of counterculture, from the 60’s onward, Williams’ paintings invoked a return to craftsmanship, figuration and demotic imagery that rejected the elitist tenets of conceptual minimalism. A kid of the 50’s, Williams grew up immersed in California’s hot rod Kustom Kulture, Rock n’ Roll and EC Comics, and was steeped in the populist currents of his era. He recognized the raw visual power of popular culture: its graphics, its counter movements and its undergrounds, a network of palpitations he would continue to tap well into the era of punk rock. He worked commercially and became studio Art Director to Kustom Kulture icon Ed “big daddy” Roth in 1965, and was a founding contributor to the underground ZAP Comix in the late 60’s, all the while creating his own caustic, unapologetic work.

The work that Williams’ created was different, and didn’t fit within the established critical and intellectual paradigms espoused by the East Coast dominated art scene. Creating epic cartoon inspired history paintings charged with sex and ultra-violence, Williams drew from the social power of the American vernacular and its visual slang. He refused the immaterial aspirations of the art object, as it moved further away from representation, and felt no affinity with the contentless legacy of Abstract Expressionism. Instead, Williams sought idiosyncrasy, content, narrative, skillful figuration and popular culture, and created work that captured its visceral and libidinal energies through accessible references. Williams continued to disregard the arbitrary exclusions of the low from “high” culture, and in 1979 coined the term “low brow” as a way to articulate his opposition to an establishment from which he was excluded. For better or worse, “low brow” became the namesake of a young fledgling art movement, which Williams would prove to be instrumental in fostering. In 1994 Williams founded Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine and created a platform for this young and insurgent energy on the West Coast; a publication that was dedicated to the underground and to its cultural mutineers.

Williams, a self described Conceptual Realist, continues to create artworks that elicit a response and offer an opinion. Relying on concrete, and relatable, imagery to invoke ideas and concepts, rather than on the non-comital spasms of abstraction, his work continues to cut, seethe, confront and move. Not for the faint of heart, Williams speaks an unruly truth that captures the dark, the beautiful and the appalling tenor of our modern world.

This exhibition is sponsored in part by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. The LAMAG is located within the beautiful Barnsdall Park at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. To contact the gallery please call 323.644.6269. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from Noon to 5PM. For special tours and school groups, please contact Marta Feinstein at or to arrange special adult tours, please contact Gabe Cifarelli at – visit LAMAG on the web at

Robert Williams ‘SLANG Aesthetics!’
Artist Statement

I have looked at the sizable accomplishments of the graffiti artists during the past thirty years and wondered how they were able to buck the powerful authorities that at one time channeled the direction and successes of the international art community. Artists like Keith Harring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf have somehow skirted the requisite art movements of the sixties and seventies. What were the lax conditions that allowed these talented young artists to slip by without having to be abstract expressionists, conceptualists, or minimalists? The answer is that they didn’t sneak by. They rode the coattails of two other authentically approved art trends that had been long sanctioned: pop art and conceptual art’s little cousin, performance art.

But how sophisticated is graffiti? It is daring and exhibits loose spontaneous graphic public expression—the language of the people. At least some of the people, the street level, disenfranchised people. Is communication through street level art speak really sophisticated? And is inner city credibility (street cred) all that worthy for art buyers, art critics, museum curators, and foundation administrators? The solution is simple. The proper functionaries simply bestowed the coronet of sophistication on graffiti. Remember, graffiti to the general public is vandalism.

And, what about the other low level idioms of the graphic world? What about comic book cartoons, pulp magazine covers, hot rod art, biker art, tattoos, girly magazine photography, science fiction illustration, psychedelic poster art, surfer and skateboard art, and a myriad of other second class disciplines that don’t quite make the cut?

Maybe we might want to take a look at the entire concept of “sophistication”. Of course, sophistication is a credible behavioral classification. It denotes forethought, concern for ourselves and others, and continuing aspiration to better oneself. I would hope to achieve this personal status myself. But the word has easily been used to exemplify admittance to the privileged parade ground inside the ivory castle of the aloof, and from those pearly battlements the elite can command the cultural high ground. Two things have come to personify sophistication. One is the joint, or simultaneous agreement to defer authority to the consensus of success. Two is money. Both of these factors certainly sway public opinion.

The current international capital of artistic sophistication is New York City. Ever since the end of the second world war, every small city in the United States that has an art community has looked to New York for cultural parenting.

However, an interesting anomaly has developed over the years. “Sophistication”, like any other folkway, travels slowly with misinterpretations happening along the way. By the time high culture reached the west coast it had traded it’s Brooks Brothers suit for cut-offs, a Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops. Art on the west coast, as much as it tries to maintain blue blood affectations, shows mutations. It just doesn’t have the aloof adroit coldness the eastern seaboard art society seems to portray. What’s even more amazing is the fine arts arbiters in the west can’t really comprehend the atrophy of snob status ebbing away right under their noses. This high class act of chic authority among art dealers is understandable as there is a constant inward flow of uneducated nouveau riche buyers seeking upper-class fulfillment through the arts. This is one reason some high art seems sophistically stupid.

Nonetheless, there is no place for blame. The human character will never change. In reality, art is not tangibly substantial enough to have real villains, just crackpots. Years ago, a New York art dealer told me, “Be careful with the fine arts world, it is real fragile”. How true. The art universe makes “smoke & mirrors” look like an impenetrable fortress. But, even with these delicate cultural shortcomings I’ve joyously participated in a life of creative adventure.

Art is quite possibly the largest and most profound cerebral playing field in all human endeavor. Art is exactly what you make of it.

Pablo Picasso said it best, “Sophistication is the greatest enemy of the imagination”. Sophistication as we and our parents knew it, is gone. Anything like that now is pure ego with quiche on it’s breath. With the internet, everything is changing so fast that slang and colloquialisms are as valid as the kings English. In fact, slang represents freedom from the pretension of sophistication. This leaves the artists in a position to function as they please.

Looking back, art history does have some curious ripples that have come from populist twentieth century trends. For example, take the German expressionists from around the period of just after the first world war. In 1919, Germany was in a state of extreme social and economical flux. The war had destroyed faith in the future, and earlier ideals were forsaken for a much more rightwing totalitarian Germany. A number of young artists surviving the horrors of war felt compelled to express an attitude that nothing could be worse than organized society. The brutal abstraction these artist portrayed paralleled the harsh injustices that power had fermented. By the 1930’s, the Nazi party had gained control of Germany on the platform of bringing organization back. The German expressionists were considered the very embodiment of the leftist sickness that modern anarchists endorsed. However, history has vindicated these rebels long after Adolf Hitler had them run out Germany.

They painted in a style of colloquial vulgarity that lead to the liberation of the entire art world some fifty years later. There are many examples of their work that are still considered too controversial today.

Another poignant incident in popular graphic history that has gone basically forgotten is the Dr. Wertham comic book hearings in the United States Senate during the McCarthy era of the 1950’s. In 1952, Dr. Fridric Wertham came out with a best selling book titled, Seduction of the Innocent. It was about the evils of comic books.

It wasn’t long before there was a senate investigation exploring the effects comics had on creating juvenile delinquency. It must be pointed out that at this point in time the entire orthodox art world was hypnotically wallowing in abstract expressionism and the virtuosity of drawing and draftsmanship was considered illustration. The art cognoscenti thought of comic books as low class commercial art.

Nonetheless, some of the finest writers and draftsmen were put on the senate chopping block. It took twenty years for comic books to regain their former dignity. As a form of vengeance to this governmental suppression, underground comix sprang to life in the 1960’s. The tolerant use of modern creative expression has placed sophistication in the same category as an Emily Post dissertation on proper dining etiquette. “On which side of your melon spoon do you place your caviar fork”?

During the last fifteen years comics, (now known as graphic novels), have completely dominated international culture through movies, television, and the internet. And still the art authorities and critics insulate themselves from comic book influence by securing their untouchable status behind a thin membrane of sophistication. The only justification that would seem to be credible for these pretenses by art actuators is that sophistication is a form of performance art—something along the lines of visiting a homeless encampment and affecting airs of an eighteenth century French Bourbon king.

The cartoon, a form of simple visual presentation, is the most versatile and malleable form of communication in the recorded vocabulary of art. Anything that can be imagined or thought up can be best abstracted or translated by cartoon. Yet the lowly cartoon, with it’s giant vernacular, is treated like a doodle. With art, the bottom will always come to the top. The strongest creative urges seem to be basic and euphemistic, or, simply, ‘slang aesthetics’.


Temple of Art Preview – Art of the Selfie


Temple of Art is an upcoming documentary directed by Allan Amato. The film follows over 50 artists’ creative process and philosophies, asking each of them the question, “Why do you make art?

59 Artists were selected to collaborate by executing their own styles on top of Amato’s photographs of them, and the list of participants is impressive: Adnohia, Allan Amato, Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Thies, Christiane Shillito, Christine Wu, Dadushin, Dan Quintana, Danni Shinya Luo, Dave McKean, David Mack, Dongyun Lee, Dorian Iten, Greg Ruth, Gail Potocki, Grant Morrison, Hueman, Jasmine Worth, Jason Shawn Alexander, JAW Cooper, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jenna Gibson, Jensine Eckwall, Jim Mahfood, John Malloy, Jon Burgerman, Junko Mizuno, Justin Volz, Kyle Stecker, Karen Hsiao, Kellesimone Waits, Ken Garduno, Kent Williams, Kozyndan, Kurt Huggins, Marc Scheff, Mark Buckingham, Matt Kennedy, Matthew Bone, Matthew Levin, Megan Hutchinson, Molly Crabapple, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Maloof, Rebecca Guay, Roman Dirge, Rovina Cai, Satine Phoenix, Scott Fischer, Shaun Berke, Soey Milk, Stephanie Inagaki, Teresa Fischer, Vincent Castiglia, You Jung Byun, Zelda Devon.

The pieces are on display at La Luz de Jesus opening on Friday, December 5, closing on January 4 – A live performance by Grant Morrison kicks-off the opening at 8PM, which will be recorded for the Temple of Art documentary. The show remains open through 12/28. Preview the show on the gallery website at this link.

Photos taken at the artist preview on Thursday, 12/4



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