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Category Archives: Shoegazing

LitKids in the Treehouse

Christopher and I spent a few hours this morning installing a dozen framed LitKids prints at Treehouse Bakery, a vegan business located a short walk from our home in downtown Phoenix. Forgive me for tooting my own horn, but don’t they look lovely?

I’m excited about this opportunity, since it’s the first time I’ve exhibited my own art in public since about 1995. Better yet, we’re mounting these pieces again in two months, at another local, independently run business. Locals supporting other locals – a beautiful arrangement! More photos from today have been included in the LitKids flickr set.

Come Shop with Me

Dakin-like Indian man sawdust doll, $16.

Over the past few months, I’ve been squeezing in what little free time I have preparing another Etsy shop to serve as a companion to LitKids. This new shop is devoted to vintage ’50s-’70s objects. I decided to call it Pishtosh, Bullwash & Wimple, after the Jim Flora book. From the shop’s decription:

While the original screen prints of classic kiddie book characters at LitKids are my main creative passion, the objects for sale at PB&W are the kind of funky things that inspire me. Hopefully they can inspire you, too. Look around and enjoy.

The shop currently has 37 items – ceramics, plastic, vintage LPs, books and collectibles – with plans to add more. In less than a week, I’ve already had two sales. If the photos I’ve got with this post pique your interest, I encourage you to go there and look around. Pishtosh, Bullwash and Wimple will be mighty disappointed if you don’t.

Georges Briard Fancy Free covered sugar bowl, $20.

1960s shelf paper roll with sun and moon design, $8.

Shakespeare book with cover illustration by Joseph Low, $8.

Vintage 1967 LP with S. Neil Fujita cover illustration, $16.

A Cabinet of Curiosities

Paul Steucke photograph of raccoon in tree, via Today’s Document.

If you peer at the sidebar, you’ll now see something that’s been absent from this site since 2005: a blogroll. Ever since the redesign, I’ve been wanting to get something in there that reflects the variety of weblogs I’m reading now. The problem with blogrolls, if course, is that blogs come and go and personal tastes never stay put for very long. For instance, it surprised me how many blogs I read five years ago that were devoted to junky pop cult collecting, a subject I can now only stand in small doses. Hopefully the sites linked here will stay around for a while.

The current blogroll is made up of personal favorites bookmarked in Firefox over the past year, things I’ve stumbled across at Tumblr via 4 Color Cowboy, and older blogs carried over from the My Big Fat Link Log 3 post of August 2008. The latter was pretty interesting, since roughly two-thirds of the blogs linked there are either abandoned or dropped (I suppose future historians will mark the years 2009-10 as the era of the Great Blog Exodus). On the other hand, it makes me admire all the more those who have been at it for five to ten years, or longer – thumbs up!

Maybe it’s the Pinterest/Tumblr influence, but great imagery is something I never expected to enjoy from others’ weblogs (some of which is shared here). Enjoy.

Photograph by Joseph Kelly, via Battered Shoes.

Book cover design by David Johnson, via Aqua-Velvet.

Photograph of teenagers in New Mexico, via National Geographic Found.

Shopping center architectural art, via damahadaman.

Bobby Hackett LP cover art, via Groove is in the Art.

Simplicity

Last weekend, while cleaning out excess stuff in our garage, I came across this forgotten little acrylic-on-board study I once did back in the ’90s. Although the piece is somewhat derivative of Anthony Russo‘s art, it still appeals to what I’m continuing to strive for in art, and in life: simplicity. When doing art, the temptation is to keep adding on and adding on, when the most effective art (to me) continue to be the pieces that communicate an idea in just a few brush strokes or pen marks. Unfortunately, that concept is easier to think about than to actually do… but I keep trying.

That whole idea of whittling down a drawing to its essence also came to mind when I was perusing the illustrations for a piece of vintage paper ephemera that C. recently acquired. The imagery below comes from a booklet published by the Melamine Council to promote the proper use of plastic dinnerware. It might have been a lost cause in the ’50s and ’60s, trying to make these common household items look elegant and sophisticated, but in the context of this brochure it actually works – beautifully. The uncredited artist (or artists) did a masterful job of paring down the ideas of stylish living, feminine beauty, and cleanliness into simple – yet never simplistic – illustration.

Through Spray Colored Glasses

We’ve been back from our California vacation for more than a week now. It’s taken a while for re-grouping, however, since I came down with the flu immediately upon return to home. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m able to share some of the photos I took there. The photos accompanying this post are shot with an iPod Touch 5 and fudged with Wood Camera, an Instagram-like app.

For this trip, we went back to Disneyland. You probably already know that I love Disneyland. My spouse hates it, however, so we go there probably once every 8-9 years as a compromise (I’m actually cool with this arrangement!). In my adult life, I’ve been there in 1987, 1995, 1996, 2005, and now 2013. I’ve enjoyed every time, but it seems like every new visit, the park becomes more tourist-trappy and not so special. At least for this new trip, we had two and a half days of exploring, which made for a more relaxed trip overall. Despite several major attractions being closed for refurbishments, Disneyland was fantastic. We used the Fastpasses wisely and got onto nearly all the rides we wanted (the Golden Horseshoe Revue wasn’t doing any live performances, only serving food). On the newly re-done Star Tours, I ended up being the rebel spy that our ship needed to transport – fun! The crowd at Disneyland was nice and mellow, a change from the somewhat more ghetto-y crowd at DCA the previous night. After our Disneyland day, we got together with the fabulous, unbelievably talented Disney designer Kevin Kidney, who braved a hoarse voice to chat with us for about an hour.

I was also looking forward to Disney’s California Adventure and seeing the massive changes they’ve made since our 2005 visit, when we saw all we wanted in a mere half-day. The Hollywood Street, made to look like Los Angeles of Disney’s 1927-33 era, is a fantastic place. We loved taking pictures and noticing the real-life buildings they used as inspiration. The whole area is so classy and beautifully imagineered, a complete turnaround from the cheesy, thrown-together look of DCA on our earlier visit. Later on that night, we got a prime viewing spot for their nightly World Of Color water/light show – even the Disney-averse Christopher was impressed with this one, and that’s saying a lot. The photo below is of us, wet and dazzled, ready to get back to the hotel. The merchandise at both parks was yet again overpriced and underwhelming, but overall we came away happy and thoroughly entertained. At the Disney Gallery, I came away with a swell coffee table book – Poster Art of the Disney Parks – as a memento of our trip.

Disnelyand/DCA didn’t make up all of our vacation – the first morning, we stopped at Newport Beach and walked around for more than an hour. It was lovely; we’ve never been to that particular beach, which had some trash issues but otherwise was fine ‘n mellow. On our way back to Phoenix, we traveled to Simi Valley and the Reagan Library for their exhibit of Disney-related objects (of course!). The museum was beautifully laid out, and if the Reagan exhibit was somewhat revisionist/optimistic it was nicely done and very admiring of the man. The Disney part had a ton of great stuff, including a re-creation of Walt’s office (seen for many years in Disneyland) and a fascinating/strange display of the model heads of all the U.S. presidents used for the Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents.

While the imagery with this blog post gives a good idea of our trip’s visual delights, we took a ton of other (unaltered) photos – which are seen in the Flickr set below.

Animal skull found on Newport Beach, 2/11/2013.

Lifeguard station at Newport Beach, California, 2/11/13.

Nemo Submarine port hole, Disneyland, 2/12/13.

Princess Fantasy Faire diorama at Disney’s California Adventure preview center, 2/13/13.

Matt and Christopher after a long, tough day in Disney’s California Adventure, 2/13/13.

Display of bust maquettes for Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents attraction, Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, California, 2/14/13.

Cherry trees in full bloom at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, Calfornia, 2/14/13.

Conceiving a Babi

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson – The Babi Makers (2013).

We’ve spent the last few weeks working on the release of Christopher’s latest book, a cautionary sci-fi tale called The Babi Makers. The very concept of the book had my creative gears spinning, and I immediately thought of doing something that was contemporary, yet also evocative of funky old sci-fi things like Omni magazine art and paperback book covers from the ’50s and ’60s. I originally thought to have just a landscape in the bottom half, meant to represent the community of Nové depicted in the book. It wasn’t quite working, however, and that’s when Christopher thought up the idea of including figures looking over a cliff. That’s where it finally clicked.

The Babi Makers is available as a Kindle download, or as a paperback. Below, some imagery that guided me along in the design process.

Wassily Kandinsky – Variegated Black (1935).

Sci-fi paperback book covers, 1960s (Avon edition of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy).

Early OMNI magazine covers and art (July 1981 issue).