Monday, June 28, 2010

The Laser Sound of Our Cosmic History

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Slinky.
It's Slinky, it's Slinky. For fun it's a wonderful toy.
It's Slinky, it's Slinky. It's fun for a girl or a boy.
It's fun for a a girl or boy!"

So in my search for Philadelphia History I've come to this cosmic connection: The Slinky. 300 million Slinkies have been sold around the world. We've shared in walking it, putting it up to our ears and shaking it for laser beam sound effects, pinching our selves in its coils, and untangling it from itself. I find it perfect in its ingenuity, its simplicity, its working class affordability. Why would you let your children play with the mercury from a thermometer or roll each other down a hill in old tires when you can buy them a shipyard spring to slink down some stairs? Perhaps the most fun to be had with a slinky is setting up a course for it to walk down. The Cramps Shipyard, where the Slinky was invented, is bound for demolition. It is the last building of the preeminent ship building facility of the 19th century. It fell into disuse in 1947 and will finally be laid to waste by a junction of on and off ramps for I-95. Not a five-minute walk from our front door and you can see the overgrown bank of the Delaware river where the main Cramps building used to be. A few minutes walk back and you’ll see the building wants to conserve. It’s all looming angles and giant glass panes. It looks like a giant lego-brick airplane hangar. You may find this small painting HERE at my etsy store.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

So I almost forgot where I was when Michael Jackson died last year. That is how it starts, and then the memory eventually becomes like a deserted industrial building retaining the ghostly lettering of a business that no longer exists . . . eventually. It will be a long time before the estate of M.J. lets the money making machine of his cult of personality die. As this most recent series of paintings are of Philadelphia buildings I thought I'd delve into Philly's relationship to the King of Pop. In the mid 1970 two albums for Jackson and his brothers were produced under the Philadelphia International Records label. The albums were "The Jacksons" and "Going Places." According to news reports of the time Jackson wanted to start making songs with messages. I was old enough to remember "Thriller" coming out, but unlike my older brother, too young for parachute pants. And oh, was I jealous of all of those zippers and pockets. I mean what frog-string-stick-toy-penny in my pocket-kid wouldn't envy those. Granted the pants were too tight to make the pockets practical, and I already wore a pair of Roo's with the pocket on the side that I would get my milk money stuck in. At least they weren’t penny loafers. But that was in Georgia . . . in the shadow of Stone Mountain. This is about Philly, where everything is annoyingly spelled with a PH instead of an F. So like almost everything else in America's history Philadelphia can lay claim to another first, as the first place after Motown Records the Jacksons decided to record. Of course if you want to scrutinize it that is how most of Philly's phirsts are. They are kind of firsts. What I'm concerned with is more the demise of Philadelphia's landmark history. This painting is of the Edward Corner Marine Warehouse, and it’s deserted and the lettering has become ghostly. I've placed it in the background to further emphasize the fading memory of Philadelphia's maritime history. While M.J. is/was an international phenomena and maritime trading brought the world closer together, the cosmic unifier I started this series out with is more subtle. Its more tactile and is perfect in its American Ingenuity. Curious? All will be revealed next time.

If you like this painting and are interested in purchasing it please click HERE.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rambo: Schemes of the Rich and Mo' Power

What is one of the more interesting "historical" places on paper that can’t really be seen anymore around my neighborhood? Gunner’s Run. It was a creek turned into a canal that was used as an investment scheme and is now paved over. Hey, that does not sound cool. Well, boys and girls, it’s named after Gunner Rambo ca. 1847. I don't think its a stretch to connect it to Sylvester Stallone. . . . We have a Rocky Statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, now I suggest, no, demand that a statue of Rambo be place on the paved over-overgrown-Aramingo Canal where it once met the Delaware River. What could be more American than a statue of Rambo planted over a historical Philadelphia money pit? The new Delaware River Green Way welcome entrance could be a bronze statue of a savage man with a bowie knife in his mouth, a bow and arrow (tribute to Native Americans), and a plaque that reads: 1st capital of the United States, 1st continental congress, 1st Blood. If you don't like the bow and arrow Idea go HERE. Wasn't that what Rambo was about, opposing corrupt and bad American ideas? A little further North is The Richmond Power Plant. It is butted up against the Recycling plant and shipping wharves of Port Richmond. If you'd like to hang out by the high tension lines and listen to the hum of transformers for a while or two you may just be lucky enough to see a gleaming silver ACES train pass by taking people to Atlantic City.

You can litteraly feel the power in the air by the Betsy Ross bridge. When the 1876 World's Fair was happening, I imagine, they imagined future architecture to look like power substations. Just imagine thinking about the future at the exposition of A. Graham Bell's telephone, a typewriter, Heinz Ketchup, and another failed american project - Kudzu as an erosion control plant. Kudzu now spreads at a rate of 150,000 acres annually, according to Science Daily. It produces ground level Ozone for the South East enhancing the drawl of all in Y'all. If you are interested in purchasing a painting of an imagining of imaginings visit my Etsy site HERE. Kudzu and Rambo are still not the cosmic connection of generations that I"m leading up to though. 2 more posts and we're there. We're there already but I just have to reveal it slowly. I don't want anybody to be scared of the final surprise sprung. You're not a scaredy-cat are you? Then read on in a few.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Power Hour

What else might be of importance to Philly’s younger years? Two defunct power plants, one in some active shipping yards, next to the recycling plant, and the other one adjacent to our neighborhood park where William Penn signed a treaty with some Native Americans. They were really surprised to see electric lights along with Penn’s boomstick. These Paintings are of the Delaware Power Station next to Penn Treaty Park on the Delaware River.

The above painting is of five of the eight stacks at the power station may be purchased at Etsy click HERE. The more I think about electricity the more it resonates with the city. Magnetic in its attraction, like a cat's tail rubbed over amber. I'm getting to Ben Franklin and his mystical-magical kite. That old philanthropic philanderer helped to issue in modern life by selling his possessions to research electricity, a step toward the second industrial revolution in the midst of the first. While this may tie us all together it is still not the cosmic connection we'll be arriving at by the end of the week.
The painting below is of the loading pier for the station on the Delaware river and may be purchased HERE.

If you are interested in further information about the power plant follow the link attached to the title as well as .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Philadelphia Burning

With our recent trip to Japan I began to get used to all of these ancient land marks surrounding us. I began to wonder what we walk by everyday at home, in the U.S., and don’t even know or care is historic. We do live in Philadelphia, some big history for the country there, but what about our neighborhood? What do we have in our ‘hood that is similar in importance to what is in Motoko’s Parents in Japan? Is there anything? I drove around our neighborhood and tried to explore some areas that the local preservation group is trying to have deemed important for Philadelphia’s history. I was a nice day out so I brought along the camera to shot some photos for painting references, and sketched some as well. I started out at and looked through the points of interest, chose our driving path of least resistance, and hopped in the car/truck thing to go and breathe some fresh (questionably) air. It was fresh. The area we live in is up for, a name calling, debate. Things can get heated between city folk about where they are from and what neighborhood is what and authentic real estate agents will get into fisticuffs over it. Being a transplanted southern boy now living in the lowest part of the North’s denial, which it’s the same as the southeastern coast, I had to define again where I live and joined in on the fun. Technically we live in what was historically called Olde Richmond. It is now considered part of Fishtown (sigh of relief). So what is all this coming to? I can proudly stand up and say, “I have had a connection to my current neighborhood all my life!” If you are, not quite a person of a certain age, are a person of a certain age, or progeny of said people you too have this cosmic connection.

I’ll start at the beginning and we'll work our way to the cosmic connection by the end of the week.
My first stop was the music club The Barbary has been around since 1969 and is up for a nomination into the historical preservation society. Their page=

That Music Venue that is so cool it is almost historical, but would never claim outright that it is because that - would be uncool.

According to wiki-travel it is “Hipster Heaven.” I can’t find any information about its importance to music except that it’s been around for a while. Someone let me know about that one please. Its name is interesting in context of the city considering this: the USS Philadelphia was lit aflame by its own people in the first Barbary war.

I will be posting a new Philadelphia 19125 painting every day over the next 5 days. You can purchase them off of my etsy site for $60.00 eachHERE. These paintings are mounted onto 6"x8" frames. Hey, even figure painters need to paint landscapes. After these it is on to the Child Ballad work,!/pages/The-Child-Ballads-Show/127757983923416?ref=mf .

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

With a Heave and a Ho!

Yorikiri! (yorikiri!) Yorikiri! (yorikiri!) Its a "frontal force out"! The losing opponent is forced out of the ring by wedgie. For the winning move to be a yorikiri the winner must keep his hands on the other fighters "mawashi". Mawashi are the sumo wrestler's "belt" which is a single piece of fabric about 30 feet long and 2 feet wide weighing about 8 lbs. They will actually tie it dependent on their wrestling tactics, leaving it loose so its hard for their opponent to use the yorikiri move or tighter and splash water on it to avoid it being gripped.

It seems that the Japanese culture has a penchant for folding things... metal for swords, mawashi, kimono belts, origami paper... at least most things people associate with traditional Japanese culture. Specific ways of folding things that seem to become ritualized object transformation. Most cultures have transformative beings in their folk-lore... its an interesting and beautiful thing that is metamorphosis. Thinking about it makes me want to buy some tad-poles. Topologically speaking, I suppose if it can revert back to its former state than it hasn't changed but we're only seeing it at different angles. Isn't that what we seek from sports? Transformations? To be turned into a winner? To show off a different angle, to change our psyche? Its all something that leads to a better understanding of ourselves, even if we can't verbalize what it is. Side notes abound. The Wrestler in the right panel is Baruto. He is originally from Estonia and is one of my favorite wrestlers to watch. You can read his bio HERE. He is considered to be a true sportsman within the Sumo world. He is ranked as an Ozeki, which is 2nd ranking only to Yokozuna. If you are interested in any paintings from this series please visit my Etsy site here. I'll be letting some prints into the wild and writing about some local landscape paintings I finished a little while ago. What!? I thought this was a figure painter's blog... WTH.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Cold War is Over! Let the Battle Begin!

After the initial psychological/cold war tactics ritual the wrestlers engage! Its the Tachi-ai, the initial clash of the titan-esque men in the left panel. The wrestlers are vieing for a hold to unbalance each other. Any move to give them an edge. Well almost any move. Although Sumo is the most ritualized of the Japanese martial arts it still has 70 acceptable or legal moves to choose from. That is quite a few for any combat sport! The Panel on the right depicts an attempt at an Kotehineri, or an arm-bar twist down. A typical Sumo match will last under a minute but can go for up to 4 until a break is called. There are very few ties or draws, the last one being in 1974. To find out how the match finishes come back in a few days. To purchase these 2 panels visit HERE.

If you are interested in a full list of the Sumo Techniques please visit this site.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Face Off

Dealing with this small series of paintings I can not avoid the subject of Manga. A guilty pleasure in my adulthood, comics were one of the biggest draws into art for me in my childhood. My first job was working at a comic book shop. I could go on about the unparalleled experience of awe standing in front of a heroic painting that transcends itself and time but I will leave that for another post. I feel my own hesitance to delve into the subject as its a perceived lowly status pervades the idea of bad undergraduate art. Granted it was college age kids in the 80's and 90's who provided a market for Anime which led to Manga's translation in the English language. Manga, the word for Japanese comics, translates to "whimsical pictures". Its permeating influence in the Japanese culture is unrivaled to what we think of comic books in the U.S. Manga should really be viewed as literature suspended in graphics, as its subject matter ranges the gamut of traditional literature. As its influence becomes more embedded in western culture I am sure more people than I can draw connections to Ukiyo-e's influence upon the impressionists. One of Japan's biggest export, like the U.S., is its culture. As Manga is a proletariat /blue color art form I've tried to bring its accesability into these small paintings through the universal recognition of origami paper and their more than affordable prices for a one of a kind artwork. While looking at these images it is important to remember that each panel is 4"x5". As an artist I use these as a toehold to understand a little more of my wife's culture. The thing about visiting other cultures and lands is that you tend to learn more about your own. If you are interested in this painting please visit HERE.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rokurokubi Spectators

The Horror! The Horror! Always wanting to keep some humor in my works I've introduced 2 Rokurokubi yokai into the sequence of paintings. As the sumo wrestlers perform the cleansing of the ring and driving out of evil spirits these monsters zoom in from the nosebleed section to get a better view of the commotion. Rokurokubi are japanese folk-lore monsters that appear human, and at times try to blend in as such, but have a tugging urge to elongate their necks in attempts to mostly scare humans. Some can be sinister hunting men and drinking their blood. Others try to blend in or don't even know that they are yokai (monsters) and their necks elongate while they sleep as they have odd dreams from interesting viewpoints. Some variations of the Rokurokubi claim that they became yokai as going against the Buddhist path. I imagine it was originaly a variation of "If you keep making faces it's going to stay that way!" But wait, why am I bringing a Buddhism influenced monster to a Shinto sport/ritual? Because, Japan is like a tossed salad of Buddhism and Shintoism. Described to me as: Shinto in life and Buddhist in Death. Traditionally Japanese ghost stories are only told in the hot months of summer when the chill that runs down your spine cools you from the heat. This pair I think is only wanting to get a better view. They may think about eating the loser, I just don't know. You can find these paintings listed on Etsy HERE.

Analytica Tracking: