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Entries in Art (4)


Portrait of the artist as a middle-aged collector

I write for a living these days, but my background, oddly enough is in art and design. So it's been a strangely ironic, pleasurable, and fortuitous few weeks with regards to my former career catching back up to my present one.

It started when I was researching flop-houses in Seattle during the depression. This is one of those weird, esoteric moments like in Ghostbusters where Harold Ramis says with complete seriousness, "I collect spores, molds, and fungus." So...YES...I was eagerly reading about the economics and practical realities of flop-houses (don't judge me), when I stumbled upon an interview with one of my old art teachers—the late Bill Cumming. He grew up during the depression and waxed poetically about that time and those humble four-penny hotels (actually about 15¢, inflation, I suppose). Two weeks later I step off the elevator at some strange, nameless hotel, and there are three of Bill's paintings. I swear they were winking at me.

Known for his shoes, Louie Gong has created a few skateboards as well.In between those moments I happened to purchase some artwork. First was the original cover drawing for DC Vertigo's UNWRITTEN #14, by Yuko Shimizu.

And later I picked up a painting by Seattle artist Kathy Liao, and also this skateboard deck by Salish/Chinese artist Louie Gong.

Plus I donated to Molly Crabapple's Kickstarter campaign for Shell Game, her series of paintings about the pending/ongoing/future economic meltdown.

Now if I can just finish this new manuscript I can get around to buying that Bill Cumming painting I've had my eye on...

Yuku Shimizu, not to be confused with the Hello Kitty creator with the same name.


Bits of fluff and important truths

  • Evidently there’s a review of Hotel appearing soon in Ouest, the largest daily newspaper in France. If it read, "The greatest artist since Jerry Lewis,” would that be a compliment?
  • Am still in awe of Alma Katsu’s, The Taker. A genre-bending debut, and the first in a trilogy of lush, historical, paranormal tales. (The story would make for a deliciously dark graphic novel).

Art School Confidential

Art appreciation. I'd appreciate it if you'd put your pants back on. Thanks. 
When I was a wee lad, the genome fairy lighted upon my room and blessed me with athsma. She also blessed me with tonsils the size of golf balls, which flagged down every airborne illness in the county. Henceforth, whenever it snowed, while my siblings built their very own Magic Kingdom out of white powdery joy, I sat on my fat imagination and drew pitch-urs. Usually of Godzilla crushing my siblings or Superman destroying their winter wonderland with his heat vision.

The bad part was that I was deprived of the basic American pastime of having your big brother throw ice-balls at your head. The good part, I became fairly adept at "drawring." That led to, among other things, art scholarships and condescending looks from the hotter members of my high school cheerleading squad.

Fast forward to college and there I am, pencil in hand, drawing some strange naked man my instructor recruited from the local porn theater, for $30 an hour. The one thing I remember about drawing fat naked people isn’t the fat nakedness. It’s the smell. When you’re naked under hot lights, in a room full of strangers, you get nervous, you sweat and…do I really need to continue?

My roommate on the other hairy palm always drew a honey-thighed aerobics instructor that smelled like cinnamon. I never saw her "in person", but let’s just say his sketchbook was worshiped like the Holy Grail on the boys-only 2nd floor of Seattle University’s Xavier Hall. It’s probably still there in a shrine.

Why am I rambling about this? Because it would seem that art has found its place in literature. And that graphic novels have finally arrived as a serious literary art form. I used to think my affinity for them was biased by the nature of my degree. It’s not. It’s because of the incredible storytelling involved.

It’s that storytelling that has Hollywood scrambling to produce the best of the best. In recent years these have included:

        (Time Magazine named Watchmen to their list of 100 greatest novels).

And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not troubled by asthma anymore. And yes, the books are still better than the movies.



Gallery of the Absurd

vdtaralo_2.jpgWow, I stumbled upon this blog by accident--much to my dee-lite. Hilarious celebrity art (like the lovely Tara Reid here).