Here’s some news, most of which is Firehouse-related.
1: Creatures show happened Friday night. I was really pleased with the turn-out. I saw a lot of old friends and made a few new ones. Special thanks to everybody who came by, to Margarete Beeson for putting the show together, to all the artists, and especially to The Firehouse, for continuing to let me do things like hang all my art on clothespins because I’m too cheap to buy frames. That’s one more huge reason I support The Firehouse Gallery. They didn’t even blink.
2: It’s not over yet. Next Saturday is the Share Fire Festival. I’ll be painting live along with my friends Travis Vallance, Kryas Hester, and Peter Eightysix. There’ll be so much live music that you’ll want to vomit (if you don’t like live music, that is. If you do, you’ll be fine). Bands include Wolvves, Field Tripp, Serene Domenic and The Gemseekers, Andy Warpigs, and a ton more. B-Sides Magazine will be there tabling and handling my prints as always. Raffle prizes include packages from Rubber Brother Records, Related Records, 56th Street Records, and gift certificates from Welcome Diner, Lawn Gnome and Jobot. Admission is a 15 dollar donation. Please come out and support The Firehouse. Here’s the event page:
3: Share Fire IndieGoGo page. You can also support The Firehouse by donating at their IndieGoGo page. A ten dollar donation will get you a limited edition poster illustrated by me. There are also many other incentives that have nothing to do with me, for those of you who dislike me intently and would rather die than own something I made. There’s something for everybody. Go and check it out.
4: So, Thaddeus from Anticonformity Prints got a little annoyed with me for telling you all to go and demand NXOEED shirts from him. Apparently you took me up on that, and while I appreciate your support, I guess I kind of jumped the gun. He’s not ready to take orders just yet, so please disregard last week’s post. We’ll figure something out in the meantime. Stay tuned.
THE DAY THE SHIRTS SOLD OUT.
So, the shirts sold out in a day. My apologies for that. I didn’t know that more than seven people would want them. A lot more, in fact. So much so that we’re gonna do another round.
Here’s how you get your shirt:
1: Go to http://anticonformityusa.com
2: Find the contact info and tell Thaddeus you demand an NXOEED shirt.
3: Once he gets a dozen of those requests, he’s gonna take your money and print up a new batch of shirts.
We’re gonna do these twelve at a time. We’ll just keep doing it until nobody wants them anymore. I’m sure that day will come. The world can only take so much grinning bear with human teeth.
1: I have new T-shirts. These were made by my buddy Thaddeus at Anticonformity Prints. He does amazing work. They are high-quality something something blah blah boring details that I didn’t bother paying attention to blah blah facts something something (I’m an idiot). I’m selling them for twenty-three bucks each. There are only six of them. I’ve got two smalls, two mediums, and two larges. Judging by the demand, I’m beginning to realize that I should have just asked for six mediums. I didn’t know there were so many mediums out there. I don’t really understand how T-shirts work. Get in touch with me if you want one.
You can visit Anticonformity prints @ https://www.facebook.com/AnticonformityPrints
So, The City of Phoenix is demanding that The Firehouse Gallery do $7,000 worth of electrical work if it wishes to remain open. So naturally, they’re throwing a festival to raise the money. There’ll be lots of bands and entertainment. Wolvves, Field Tripp, and Enemies of Promise, to name a few. I’ll be painting live with some of my friends. Please come out and support this. The Firehouse means a lot to me. Their former incarnation, Thought Crime Gallery, was one of the only places in town willing to give me my own show back in the day, when nobody else would touch me (you know, because of that whole “your work is too dark for the sensitive, yuppified prudes who frequent our establishment” thing). Thought Crime and The Firehouse have always supported me, and I support them.
Here’s the event page:
1: Friday, September 12. Creatures. It’s a group show @ Firehouse Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. I guess we’re calling me the featured artist for this event, although I don’t know that I’m gonna stand out all that much. We’ve got 18 artists participating so far, and I’ll surrender my wall space to make room for as many as possible, so maybe I should just stop calling myself the featured artist. I feel like such a creep saying it like that anyway. My paintings could end up being the worst ones in the show. Who knows.
I’ll be showing a few of the pieces that I intend to hide for the Orbis hunt. Here’s the event page:
2: It’s been an emotionally-draining couple of months, with the worst of it hitting me within just the past several days. I’m not gonna lie, my morale is not terribly high right now. Maybe it’s the long, painful goodbye to a dying loved one. Maybe it’s the shock of the realization that I’ve got a little over a month to finish 116 paintings. Maybe I snapped last week and said or did some insensitive, possibly mean-spirited things that have caused me to fall out of favor with a few of the people I love the most. Maybe I deserve everything I get. Maybe I’ve got some thinking to do.
In the meantime, I have learned that I can ease the pain via time travel. So I am here to tell you that I have built a time machine.
The meaning of life came to me around twenty-six years ago in the form of an AM radio station with the call letters “KUKQ”. I was sixteen years old in 1989, and life was terrible. I don’t remember actually having any friends. I was the frequent subject of ridicule, a whipping boy for school bullies. I flunked out of every class for drawing pictures compulsively. I shaved my eyebrows off in an attempt to look like the guy in Midnight Oil. I listened to music nobody liked or understood. I had an unhealthy obsession with Batman to the point that I began to dress like him.
I was a lonely kid.
Life changed for the better when I boarded my school bus one day and heard a Buzzcocks song on the radio. This may not seem like a big deal now, but there were no Buzzcocks songs on the radio back then. They were not considered legitimate music by whatever idiots in charge determined such things.
My bus driver was a kindred spirit. He was the only guy in the entire Tempe Union High School District that I didn’t utterly despise. He often complimented my concert t-shirts and recommended new artists. I used to buy albums based on his recommendations, and liked most of them. I also knew the bus didn’t have a tape deck. This was a radio station for sure. The songs kept coming. Robyn Hitchcock, Skinny Puppy, The Bolshoi, Xymox. I was stunned. When I got to my stop, I asked the driver what we were listening to. “It’s great, isn’t it? It’s on AM 1060. They changed their format just a couple days ago.”
I spent the years that followed obsessing over the station. I had their stickers on everything I owned. I called frequently just to chat with their deejays about nothing in particular. I won CDs and show tickets literally every week (it was not hard to be the tenth caller). KUKQ was my gateway drug into everything I am today. It’s what got me reading MRR, which is what got me responding to their pen-pal ads and making some friends in the industry that I still have to this day. It got me into punk rock and early industrial music. It got me into zine-making and flyer-illustrating. It got me going to shows and supporting local art and music. It’s the reason I can’t fall asleep unless I tune my AM radio between stations and take in the coagulation of noise that spills out. It even got me into amateur radio, sort of.
I had a love affair with KUKQ, and was heartbroken when it ended.
I’m still the same idiot I was back then. I still listen to all that music, still ride around on my bicycle pinning flyers on any surface that’ll take ‘em. Still have the old KUKQ stickers on everything I own (Thanks to Jim Ballard’s ResurreKQtion Night at Rips every month). Still have a hard time interacting with other human beings, though I’m grateful to be able to call many of them my friends. Still ruining my life by drawing and painting compulsively on any surface I can find. The only difference between now and then is that I’m a 42 year-old man now, and it’s creepy. But that’s alright. I’m okay with being creepy.
So, about that time machine….
I removed the vast majority of the MP3s I had on my Ipod and replaced them with songs that showed up frequently on KUKQ playlists between 1989 and 1994. Most of them are songs I don’t particularly care for. Songs like ‘Valerie Loves Me’ by Material Issue, ‘Return to Yesterday’ by The Lilac Time, and ‘Sunshine Smile’ by Adorable. They’re alright, but nothing I really care to hear more than a few times in rotation. Some of these songs I down right hate. Doesn’t matter. Time travel is the objective here. I’ve got interstitial bumper music and station identification that I’ve cut from the few airchecks I could find. I’ve got the original deejays breaking in between songs and announcing “Alternative Dance Nights at Anderson’s Fifth Estate”. I’ve got old commercials for The Graffiti Shop, Hot Topic, and more than a few monster truck rallies. I’m rebuilding the old KUKQ brick by brick. Insane, maybe. But I don’t care. It’s working. When I’m riding around town, hiding paintings or pinning flyers up in my old spots and listening to this playlist, I feel like I’m connecting with the dozen or so ghosts of my former self and letting them all know that everything’s going to be alright, that I’ll grow up and not change. That I’ll be the same idiot at sixty that I was at sixteen, that I am at forty-two. People will enter my life. People will leave. I will love, I will lose, and I will not change.
Needless to say, if you’ve got old Airchecks from 1060 between 1989 and 1994, please send me copies. You’d be making a great contribution to the science of time travel.
1: Here’s that list of participating bands. I noticed after posting this pic that I had neglected to include Page The Village Idiot on the flyer, so I went back and wrote his name literally 200 times (although I must confess, I abbreviated on more than a few of them). So, Page The Village Idiot. Page the Village Idiot. PAGE THE VILLAGE IDIOT.
2: It’s been a rough weekend. A close friend of mine had an aneurysm early Friday morning. We were told upon visiting that she had been brain dead. We spent the following eight hours sobbing and saying our final goodbyes when a neurosurgeon walked in and said, “I don’t know what they’re talking about. This woman is nowhere near brain dead.”
So he operated on her. She’s on life support, unresponsive. I’ve been at the hospital every day since. The reason I bring this up is so that you know that I’m not neglecting you. I’ve got some announcements, but they can wait.
1: We have our 100 bands. Technically, we’re a little over 100. I guess I overbooked. But I don’t care. The more the merrier. Thanks so much to everybody participating. It’s gonna be amazing, like an invisible music festival. Can’t wait to see that poster with 100 bands on it hanging all over town. Here’s the event page again:
2: Thanks to those of you who bought prints over the weekend. They’re going a lot faster than I figured they would. I’ve still got a couple left of each, so let me know if you want one.
Truth be told, I’ve got these other prints that I haven’t talked to you about yet. I’m not going to post pictures of them. They were taken from the Ova Concilium Scroll. Remember that wretched thing? Well, I guess I thought it’d be a good idea to get prints made, but the images didn’t translate well to card stock. This is not the printer’s fault. I made the contrast on both JPEGs just a bit too high. Everybody who has seen them tells me they look perfectly fine, but I’m apprehensive about putting them out there. So I guess I’ll only sell ‘em in the dark, and at half the price of my other prints.
No, you can’t see them.
3: Alright, elephant in the room: friend of mine said to me the other day, “I can always tell which of your Facebook friends hates you by how eager they are to tell you that other artists are hiding art too.” I don’t necessarily agree with that observation, but I see her point. I knew I’d have to address this sooner or later, so here we go…
Here’s the thing: other people hide stuff too. They’re not doing it to hurt me. Some of them don’t even know that I exist. Yes, I’ve been doing it for a long time, and yes, I’ve been marketing myself exclusively as “that guy who hides 99% of his art” for about half of my career. And I’m sure everybody’s correct in pointing out that there’s been a spike in art hunts ever since the Vice thing happened in March.
Have I been at it for longer than a lot of folks? I don’t know, maybe. But keep in mind that the term “buried treasure” exists because there are people who literally bury their treasure. Easter Egg Hunts are nothing new. I remember being five years old and going on Sunday School treasure hunts for pennywhistles and hard candy. And the Toynbee Tile guy’s been at it since the early ’80s. In short, I did not invent hiding things in bushes or hanging them on telephone poles. The most I can claim is that there has been a movement developing within street art over the past 10-15 years involving the act of deliberately hiding art for interested parties to find and collect. Maybe I’m fortunate enough to be able to say that I’ve been a part of it from the start. If that’s the case, I have no doubt in my mind that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of artists who can also make that claim.
I get messages every three weeks or so, every time somebody else hides art. It’s been going on for years. Even back when when people started geocaching, I got messages about it. And the two are almost completely unrelated.
I love you guys to death for looking out for me, but other people hide art too, and I don’t hate them for it. They’re essentially helping me make my point — that a vacant lot is no less legitimate a space to display and market art than a gallery is.
So, I guess I have prints now. I got these last night. They turned out a lot better than I thought they would. They’re on heavy card stock and printed at a much higher quality than I’m used to seeing. My friend works in a print shop and hooked me up.
We went back and forth on what I should charge for these. She said they’re worth 25-30 bucks. I disagreed with that and said I that wanted to charge seven. Then she yelled at me. I don’t know anything about commerce. I live in a world where food is traded for goods and services, and clothing is found rather than bought. I live in 1876. But I guess the quality is good, there are only twelve of each, and I really need to raise money so that I can pull Orbis off. So let’s call these limited edition, hand-signed prints. for the (arguably) low price of ten dollars, you can own one. Your choice of forlorn severed head floating through space, or three-breasted visitor from The Pleiades and the science that brought him here. Those are the only ones I have.
I know. I’m an idiot.
1: Thanks to Troy Farah and the Up On The Sun blog for helping to get the word out about this project. Bands from all over the country emailed me yesterday with samples of their music. We’ve just about got this thing booked up. I’ll be posting a new version of the infographic with an updated list of participating bands early next week.
You can read the interview here: http://goo.gl/aTOiky
2: I ran into somebody I hardly know the other night while I was out in Scottsdale, flyering for a show. “You hate galleries”, she said, just like that. This is news to me. I thought I liked galleries. I’m working with two of them right now. When I asked her to elaborate, “People talk” was all she would say.
Truth be told, it’s not that I have a problem with galleries, but that some of them have a problem with me. Every year around this time, my inbox fills up with requests from curators asking if I’d like to get in on some show that’s happening in the early fall. They’re all booking their Halloween-themed events, and I guess I’m in that group of artists they consider dark enough to call upon. That’s cool. I like Halloween. If I’ve got the work available, I’m more than happy to participate.
The problem comes when they decide that my work isn’t suitable for their establishment at any other time of the year.
Between you and me, I don’t think there’s anything particularly dark about my work. I think people are crazy. These galleries that refuse to take my work quite frequently exhibit work from artists who are exploring much darker subject matter than I am. CSI Miami is darker than my work is. If I’m being completely honest here, when somebody tells me, “We don’t know if you’re right for us because your work is too dark. Can you paint something lighter?”, what I hear is, “Your soul is defective. Why don’t you have that looked at and get back to us?” It’s a little insulting.
Maybe I’m being a baby. Maybe not. I decided some years back that I probably wasn’t going to get the opportunity to have a legitimate, institutional career in art. I’m an outsider, whether I like it or not. Because of this, I’ve had to get creative. That’s one of the reasons I hide my work. I needed a direct, open line of communication with the people who actually want what I have to offer. This has worked out great for the past fifteen years or so. But something interesting has been happening in recent years, as these art hunts gain some attention. Curators now contact me out of the blue just to tell me that they don’t want to work with me.
I find this utterly fascinating. It seems that what’s happening is, people who are validated by their memberships in exclusive clubs feel robbed of the opportunity to let me know that I’m not invited, because I’ve constructed an ecosystem of my own that supports my artistic endeavors, and don’t get around much to their neck of the woods anymore. So they actually seek me out just to let me know. The most recent event like this occurred two weeks ago. Somebody I don’t particularly care for wrote me out of the blue just to let me know that “I’m really not right for his project”.
I’m not gonna lie, I kind of love this. I’ve been fighting this shit my entire life. I grew up attending a borderline cultic private school in Central Phoenix, populated almost entirely by inbred, Children-of-The-Corn-like, Dutch farm kids and their parents. Here’s an example of just how insular and bad it was: there was a talent show every year. Each class had a skit they performed. One year, my little brother’s first grade teacher decided that it would be nice to have the kids perform a minstrel show, in black-face. This actually happened. It was 1987. Nobody had a problem with it, with the exception of my family and maybe one other. Even the Principal was on board. He didn’t understand why we were making such a fuss about it. We were eventually pulled out of the school because of this. They had a saying: “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much.” Even the teachers said it, even to the non-Dutch kids, without a care in the world. Well, I’m not Dutch, and I didn’t believe a word of it. This is probably what gave birth to my hatred of exclusivity. I believe that social hierarchy is an illusion. There are no actual elites. Memberships only matter to people who need desperately to belong to groups that other people have formed. They need leaders to follow. It’s the only way they know.
So I don’t “hate galleries” at all. I love them. I merely choose to work with the ones that are supportive of me.
1: This’ll be a fun show. Creatures @ Firehouse Gallery. Friday, September 12. It’s a group show. It’ll run through October’s First Friday, which incidentally is the night of the Orbis “100 Paintings for 100 Bands” Art Hunt. My pieces in the show will serve as clues to the whereabouts of those paintings and the albums that accompany them. Here’s the event page:
2: Sketchbook night.
So, I want have one night out of the month where we can all get together and work in our sketchbooks. Tucson used to have a night like this at the Surly Wench Pub. I miss it. So let’s get together and do one. Preferably some place well-lit and air conditioned. I’m tired of swamp coolers.
1: Thanks to all who participated in the Fox Hunt Saturday. I’m really pleased with the turn-out, but a little annoyed with whoever keeps tailing me and picking up everything I leave behind. That’s what I’m assuming is happening anyway, because I had 24 pieces of art hidden in Tempe alone, and only seven were reported to be found. I rode back through Tempe on the way to the afterparty and none of the paintings were in their hiding spots. I don’t mind the tailing so much, or the hoarding. What bugs me is that the hoarder probably isn’t terribly proud of the fact that he’s got a stack of paintings from a guy he’s been following around all day, so he avoids posting his findings on social media, and nobody knows what’s been found.
So Mystery Hunter, let me just say that I have no problem with your methods. You are skilled at the hunt, and I applaud you for this. Just please post your findings on social media, or at least send me an email letting me know what’s been found.
2: ORBIS update: Holy crap. I’m overwhelmed by the support we’re getting on this project. You guys have been amazing. Confirmations keep coming in. Bands have been giving me their tapes and CDs at just about every show I attend. I’d like to thank again, in particular, Mazel Toast, Media Tempe, and Rubber Brother Records for getting so many bands on board, Nardwuar The Human Serviette for the retweets and recommendations, B-Sides Magazine for taking on the task of getting confirmations from our LA bands, and of course, the bands themselves, which at this point are at such great a number that listing them all would take up valuable blogging real estate. Stay tuned for some announcements.
3: RESURREKQTION RADIO / KQ NIGHT @ RIPS. So, anybody who knows me knows that my development as a musically-conscious being is attributed in large part to an AM radio station that existed between 1989 and 1994, when I was in my teens and early twenties. This was AM 1060 KUKQ, an alternative station that often played music most alternative stations would not go near. It was an exciting moment to be a kid, though I didn’t realize it at the time. There was no internet. Tapes were traded via snail mail. Punks who wanted to communicate with punks in other cities did so by answering pen pal ads in the back of MRR. There were no MP3s, so new music was often discovered just by rummaging around in record stores and looking for the album with the most interesting cover. Flyers were collected as opposed to discarded. They were high contrast black and white Xeroxes, works of art in and of themselves, as opposed to the ugly 4”x6” glossy nothings with bubbly lettering and busy background that nobody ever notices. I was going to graphic design school at the time, which meant that I had free access to a copy machine. I used it to publish zines while nobody was looking. Every beautiful moment in my youth is centered around copy machines and KUKQ.
For the past nine months, folks who were too young to remember KUKQ have been getting a monthly history lesson via ResurreKQtion night at Rips in Central Phoenix. Jim Ballard and former KQ deejay Leah Miller go out of their way to make the vibe as eerily nostalgic as possible, and they succeed. They even have a brand new batch of those old KQ stickers printed up, the ones we used to cut and re-assemble on our notebooks and skateboards to read, “FUKQ”. I mention this for two reasons: one, they’ve got a new radio show called ResurreKQtion Radio on KQ 106.7 FM. 106.7 is something of a trip back in time itself. Jonathan L, former programming director at KUKQ and father of the modern music festival, can be heard three nights a week with his show, The Lop-sided World of L. DJ Perry spins his Friday night classic alternative mix reminiscent of the kind we used to hear from Swedish Eagle back in the day. And now there’s ResurreKQtion Radio, which can be heard every Friday night from 8-10PM. Of the two stations in town currently riding the legacy of KUKQ, this is the one I recommend. It’s the closest to the original, at least on certain nights.
The second reason I bring all this up is because I hide paintings at every ResurreKQtion Night. There’s one coming up this Friday. It might be the perfect opportunity for new art hunters who spent Saturday night fruitlessly searching in back allies for foxes to finally get their hands on a painting. Join us?
4: My music critic alter-ego, Yulunga Baktai, has a column in this month’s issue of B-Sides Magazine. B-Sides is a print publication that goes out of its way to avoid having an online presence, so look for it around town. You’ll see it.