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Tuesday is June 16, Bloomsday, and WBAI is broadcasting a James Joyce Celebration from 7pm - 1:30 am EST.
"Radio Bloomsday is an intimate radio program featuring readings of James Joyce's Ulysses, plus selections from Joyce's entire canon, performed by leading actors. Bloomsday is celebrated every year on June 16, the day Ulysses takes place.
Radio Bloomsday makes the works of Joyce accessible to a 21st century audience, the newly initiated and devoted stalwarts alike," explains host/producer Larry Josephson."This years annual Radio Bloomsday, The priests, the Jews and the Irish, highlights the "Wandering Rocks" episode of Ulysses. But we'll take listeners on a freewheeling tour throughout Ulysses --a mixture of live performance, pre-recorded excerpts and Irish music."
Larry Josephson is not only my cousin and friend, but a lengendary radio producer and host. His work with Bob & Ray won Peabody Awards and this Bloomsday broadcast is definitely something to check out. You know you never finished reading Ulysses in college.
The legendary artist-airbrush pioneer-illustrator-sculptor-visionary Charlie White is having a one-day sale at his studio in Venice Beach California on Sunday June 7th from 3pm-6pm. He’s putting some classic original paintings and prints up for sale.
Charlie broke a lot of new ground in the 1970’s and 1980’s and his name was synonymous with the California air-brush look that graced so many album covers and magazines. His work always brought an unexpected idea and was executed beautifully.
Charlie’s influence on other artists is hard to exaggerate, He and Dave Willardson ran a studio in the early 80’s and they laid enough work on me to keep me afloat for my first years as an illustrator and I’ll always be grateful for the lessons I learned there.
Olio - 9 Wavecrest Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
Six drawings per movie, in sequence, no movie stars.
Today's The Maestro's birthday, Duke Ellington's music all day on WKCR.
"And you are all invited to join the finger-snapping. I don't have to tell you that one never snaps one's fingers on the beat. It's considered aggressive. Don't push it; just let it fall. And if you would like to be conservatively hip, then at the same time tilt the left earlobe. Establish a state of nonchalance. And if you would like to be respectably cool, then tilt the left earlobe on the beat and snap the finger on the afterbeat. And so by routining one's finger-snapping and choreographing one's earlobe-tilting, one discovers that one can become as cool as one wishes to be."
The Los Angeles Times asked me to attend a dress rehearsal for the LA Opera's production of "The Birds," a fable written by Walter Braunfels in Munich in 1920. I hung around backstage and in the empty Dorothy Chandler Pavillion and watched as all the parts to the opera came together: no sign of Bugs Bunny.
The Ahmanson Theatre in downtown LA is staging a revival of the Fats Waller musical revue ‘Ain’t Misbehavin.’ Theater posters can be a nightmare because there are so many cooks in the kitchen, everyone involved in the production gets to voice an opinion, Also, there are many different formats that the art has to be used in and sometimes the poster gets compromised and doesn’t really work well in any of the applications.
This one went very smoothly thanks to Center Theatre Group’s gracious art director Charity Capili. I let her know that I’d be happy to design separate pieces to fit the important applications, and we worked together on light pole banners, program covers and a large 19-foot banner for the Music Center plaza. She does owe me a drink at the bar.
Of course, Fats Waller was a legendary songwriter, stride piano player and character of the Harlem Renaissance. I borrowed heavily from another cat who spent a lot of his time in Harlem, the great Miguel Covarrubias.
Today on WKCR, Ornette Coleman birthday broadcast. Tomorrow Bix Beiderbecke.
Two days of back-to-back 24 hour listening to jazz genius from two eras.
Ornette is still with us at 79, creating new music and challenging listeners.
Bix didn’t last long, but he left a lot of beautiful playing on some great records and some beautiful playing on some terrible records.
Check them out on wkcr.com
An old friend from Art Center, Douglas May, called for a portrait of the beautiful Dionne Warwick to benefit Dallas Summer Musicals, a organization that brings Broadway shows to Dallas and provides children’s education and outreach programs. He had the idea to do bring an Erte-inspired art deco vibe to the piece. I put on “Dionne At Her Very Best” and laid this portrait on him.
I’ve been teaching at Art Center College of Design for the last few years, and we’ve had some fantastic guest speakers. Ann Field, Chair of the Illustration Dept. asked me if I’d design some posters to announce these lectures. It’s always good to work with the great imagery these artists have created, and some students have told me that they’ve started tearing them off the walls after the event to save them.
This first one was done for Jeff Smith, I think he has been on the faculty since the end of the Korean War. This was for a talk he gave in Seattle. The rest are all for Art Center.
Saturday January 10th is the 88th anniversary of the drummer Max Roach’ s birth. WKCR 89.9 in New York City will be marking the occasion, as they always do, by playing his music for 24 hours beginning at midnight. If you like jazz music, or think you might like to learn more about it, there’s no better place than WKCR, also found online. There’s also no better person to learn from than my friend, Phil Schaap, who runs the jazz programming at the station. Phil’s knowledge of jazz music is as deep and as rich as it gets, and his love for the musicians who play it is infectious. We lost Max Roach last year, so this year will be the first birthday broadcast that Max won’t be at home listening in.
Then, beginning the next day, WKCR will be airing the Roy Haynes Festival, 301 continuous hours of his music. Sunday January 11th through Friday January 23rd. Haynes is now 83 and his drumming has helped propel groups led by the greatest names in jazz including Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonius Monk. Haynes will be joining Phil on air to tell some tall tales. Check it out.
The LA Times ran a few sketchbook drawings about the transformation my Pasadena neighborhood goes through during the holiday season leading up to the Rose Parade. A village of activity springs up as bleachers and TV towers loom over the homes and apartment houses along Orange Grove Blvd. Homeowners line their front yards with folding chairs and camping equipment. Thousands of people sleep overnight to get a good spot to watch the parade on New Year's Day.
I usually sleep until 10 and miss the whole thing.
Wouldja just leave already?
Best Holiday Wishes to everyone at Drawger.
I get a call from Farrar, Straus & Giroux to design a book jacket for a novel by Jonathan Rabb that is set in Berlin around 1930. The story centers around a detective and a murder at the Ufa movie studios; the legendary director Fritz Lang is a character in the book. The whole thing reeks of German-noir and Ludwig Hohlwein, and the art director is thinking about something with echoes of Lang’s Metropolis poster.
I send this sketch, everyone likes it, and we try three or four variations of the guy at the bottom. I like to handle all the typography on a project when I can, and on this jacket, for a little joke, I add a small logo that mimics the Ufa logo and uses the initials of the publisher, FSG.
The design is a wrap-around image that shows nighttime Berlin on the back cover. I send off the file and look forward to seeing the book on the shelves in the spring.
A couple of weeks go by, and I get another call informing me that the editors are uncomfortable with the lettering, and they’ve decided to go with this version that uses a straight deco-ish font.
I go downstairs and order a gimlet.
The last two years I was invited to join a group of students from Art Center on a trip to London led by Illustration Chair Ann Field (who’s English.) We make the rounds of museums, galleries, and artist’s studios. The kids make some late-night rounds of their own. These are some drawings from my sketchbooks from the trips.
I had just graduated from Art Center in 1980 and was making the rounds with my portfolio, seeing anyone who’d take the time to look at my work. Claxton was the art director at Motor Trend Magazine then, and he was the first guy to give me a job on the spot. I didn’t know about his history as a legendary photographer, he was gracious and handsome and seemed to be the coolest guy in the building. Years later his first book of jazz photographs was published and it introduced his work to a whole new generation. Our paths crossed a few times at parties and clubs and we struck up a bit of a friendship. Claxton was always the coolest guy in the room and he had a way making those around him feel cool too. I remember a party when my beautiful wife Jill and I sat at a table with Bill and his beautiful wife Peggy talking about jazz and art. I was working on the illustrations for Jazz ABZ, but I didn’t have a publisher yet, or any real idea if the book would ever see the light of day. Bill was very encouraging and reminded me that he started many projects by following his instincts and working on things that he loved.
I’m going to miss bumping into Clax around L.A., when ever I saw him I knew that I was at the coolest spot in town .
Forever Young is in the stores. Illustrating a book for kids that takes one of Bob Dylan’s most loved songs was a challenge. Ginee Seo and Ann Bobco at Simon and Schuster laid this story on me that parallels the lyrics, and brings to it a narrative line that fits and isn’t too corny. My idea was to bring elements from Dylan’s life and lyrics from other songs to the book. I set up the illustrations as sort of stage sets, New York City became a character in the book, and I squeezed in as many references as I could without being obnoxious. This book is for children and their parents, and I also wanted to make a book that Dylan fans would enjoy.
This is the first illustration I did, and it set the tone for the look of the book. We sent this to Dylan for approval, he had seen the book I did with Wynton Marsalis, “Jazz ABZ,” and picked me to be the illustrator for this book. There was really no need for us to get on the phone, and everything we sent over was approved right away. This drawing shows a block of Greenwich Village that includes clubs Dylan played in when he first arrived in New York.
Café Wha? was a pass-the-hat joint, and Dylan says he spent a lot of time in the NY Public Library.
The kid in the story lives next door to Gerde’s Folk City, and that VW bus and ’51 Chevy are still parked on Jones Street where they were on the cover of Freewheelin.’
I found a photo from the sixties of this cat’s sidewalk record stand that he rigged up from a bicycle, so I filled it with records that Bob plays a lot on Theme Time Radio Hour.
Woody Guthrie’s influence on Dylan was immeasurable, the first song Bob wrote was “Song to Woody” and he name-checks Cisco, Sonny and Leadbelly too. This illustration was an early style exploration that didn’t make it into the book.
The kids room is loaded with references to many things and people Dylan mentions in his memoir Chronicles Vol 1.
The portraits of Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, and Leadbelly found a place. All good illustrators know not to throw anything away, and to never draw something you can trace, and never trace something you can cut out and paste down.
Milton Glaser’s poster shows up next to Willis Reed. The radio has words coming out of it that read “the country music station plays soft,” a line from Visions of Johanna. I tucked some tiny handwritten lines into a number of the illustrations.
Maggie’s Farm becomes a pawnshop with electric guitars and a polka dot shirt in the window.
This drawing of Dylan was done for the endpapers, but we didn’t use it.
The book jacket is a wrap around drawing that includes a train and a signpost that refers to Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. My brilliant wife, Jill von Hartmann, handled the book design and made everything look good. I asked her if anyone would get that the windmill and the dandelion were in reference to Blowin’ in the Wind and she said “Not one person on earth.”
There's a video on YouTube that the publisher made to hype the book
I just finished some portraits of African-American leaders for current event posters to be put in classrooms by The Weekly Reader. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time I draw Obama, but I’d rather the other two spend the rest of their long lives out of the public eye.
American Express is producing a book with portraits and feature articles about some of their charter members. I was asked to do a portrait of Ralph Branca. He’s the Brooklyn Dodger pitcher who delivered the pitch to Bobby Thomson that became known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World” in a playoff for the pennant in 1951.
I drew the fatal moment Branca delivered the pitch. The game, played at The Polo Grounds has taken on legendary status in baseball history, and fans have been talking about it ever since. Should Branca have walked Thomson with first base open and pitched to the rookie Willie Mays? Did Giant coach Herman Franks steal pitching signs with a telescope from the centerfield clubhouse and relay them to Thomson? Russ Hodges famous play-by-play call was recorded off the television by a fan at home. What happened to the ball?
I also illustrated an imaginary baseball card of Branca from 1948, the year he was an All-Star. After Branca retired from baseball he worked in the insurance industry and was instrumental in the formation of the Baseball Assistance Team, a foundation that offers help to former major-league players who have fallen on hard times.
The Studio Museum in Harlem called the other day. They carry the book Jazz ABZ in their bookstore and wanted to do a feature in their quarterly magazine. There's an artist interview in each issue and it includes a coloring page for kids. I sent them this line drawing of Duke Ellington and a few cats from his band that made Harlem their home. I have this directory of musicians from 1955 that lists everyone’s home address and I included them in the drawing. The whole thing is a shameless imitation of the great David Stone Martin, and I’m sure the image will be improved by kids with crayons.