Avant-Garde Cinema “Godfather” Jonas Mekas, Who Influenced Andy Warhol, Velvet Underground + More, Has Died At Age 96

Posted by Billyjam, January 23, 2019 08:34pm | Post a Comment
Jonas MekasThe Velvet Underground's First Appearance, 1964 NYC”  

Influential, counter-culture era, avant garde filmmaker, poet and critic Jonas Mekas died today at age 96. Founder of The Anthology Film Archives in 1970, that announced his passing via Instagram earlier today, Mekas is widely considered the “Godfather” of American avant-garde cinema. His groundbreaking unorthodox film style played a major influence on such artists as The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and John & Yoko

Major fan of the radical filmmaker John Lennon summoned Mekas to travel from NYC up to Montreal in May 1969 to film the then controversial John & Yoko Bed-In (see film clip below). In that same year Mekas made his acclaimed film piece Walden that perfectly showcases the artist’s unique non-linear, cut and paste, mixed media, choppy visual style that's further distinguished by his monotone voice over narration and experimental music soundtrack. View Walden excerpt clip below.
After founding the pioneering film magazine Film Culture in 1954, the Lithuanian-born Mekas would go on to become the first ever film critic at the (1955 founded) Village Voice in 1958. By the 1960’s Mekas was a highly revered key figure on the underground New York City art scene that melded cinema, poetry and music. His role in shaping contemporary pop culture is undeniable. Mekas curated the beginnings of the Velvet Underground, from when they first formed in NYC by Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Angus MacLise. Mekas opened up his spacious (then affordable) NYC
 artist live/work loft space for the band to practice in. Consequently he was the first to ever film the VU in performance. See that 1964 film piece above.
Mekas would later famously introduce the Velvet Underground to Andy Warhol for what would become a long-running, close knit artist collaboration between the two. The Velvet Underground became the house band at Warhol’s Factory as well as at the pop-artist's multi-media  Exploding Plastic Inevitable events in New York City in the mid-sixties.  

The Velvet Underground & Nico
’s (also available in 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) iconic 1967 debut album cover art designed by Warhol (pictured right) was accompanied with liner notes by Jonas Mekas. In addition to a 2012 MOCA interview with Mekas, below are video clips from the filmmaker's Walden and his 2000 piece  As I was moving ahead occasionally I saw brief glimpses of beauty along with the 1969 filmed John + Yoko Bed-In.

Jonas Mekas “John & Yoko Bed In: Montreal, May 1969”

Vintage, Original Rolling Stones 'Licks' Memorabilia & More on Sale at Amoeba + Chat With Designer Craig Braun

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 8, 2016 11:06am | Post a Comment
Exquisite, Original, Vintage 1971 Licks Silver/Enamel Belt and Buckle
Available in sizes X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
The record business is home to many people who are a kind of hero to me, often behind the scenes in unspoken nine-to-fives. I have my heroes of album cover design: Tadanori Yokoo, Reid Miles, Jim Flora, Dirk Rudolph, and Barbara Worjisch to name a few.

Add to this list a Mr. Craig Braun, a quintessential ''Man Behind the Curtain," a luminary of mostly-unsung parts of the music establishment of the 1960s and '70s. And even more paramount than Craig's resume and bone-deep knowledge of the record business is that he's a refreshingly witty, wonderful human being with umpteen stories to tell.

Susan Tyrrell, 1945 - 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, June 19, 2012 08:41am | Post a Comment
Susan Tyrrell, R.I.P.
1945 - 2012

Happy Birthday Alan Aldridge -- The Man with the Kaleidoscope Eyes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 1, 2012 04:00pm | Post a Comment

Today is the 69th birthday of English artist, graphic designer and illustrator, Alan Aldridge (click here to visit his site). His distinct airbrush work adorned numerous books and albums in the 1960s and '70s and helped define the aesthetic of the era -- equal parts whimsy and menace.

Aldridge appeals to me, in part, due to the way he draws upon older artists from very different traditions. The grotesque, fantastical characters echo the febrile visions of Dutch Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch. The invasive, sometimes threatening vegetation reminds me of the vegetable portraits of Italian Mannerist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The soft, velvety folds and textures of clothing remind me of French Neoclassicist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres's almost single-minded focus on mastering the technique of depicting textiles.
As a young child, when I was first exposed to Aldridge, I hadn't yet heard of any of those artists. I don't remember ever even asking who Alan Aldridge was, but it was clear even that his particular synthesis of influences and ability to simultaneously captivate and repulse was immediately recognizable as the work of one artist, whatever work it adorned.


Aldridge was born in East London in 1943. One of his first jobs as an illustrator was for The Sunday Times. He was hired in 1965 by Penguin Books' chief editor, Tony Godwin, to serve as art director after impressing them with his freelance covers. Examples of his work can be seen on numerous science-fiction revised editions c. 1967 and The Penguin Book of Comics (1967), and The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (1969).

(In which we lose our cool.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 13, 2011 10:58am | Post a Comment

My idea of a romantic comedy!

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing the boyfriend to the 1971 film Harold & Maude. How he managed to make it to age thirtysomething without ever seeing it sooner shows an utter lack of regard from his friends and family, and we can only praise Allah that I showed up in his life.

Oddly enough, we seem devoted to cinema circa ’71 this week, as the films featured in our fetching living room all hail from that year. Before Harold & Maude was The Andromeda Strain, a movie which may well be the most boring sci-fi thriller ever to be shot, but was so beautiful we couldn’t stop looking. Oh, so boring! Imagine the longest, highest budget, fantastically designed instructional video ever, or if Stanley Kubrick had decided to make 2001: A Space Odyssey without all that pesky meaning.

Before that was Ciao! Manhattan, the enigmatic art film that accidentally became a biographical piece on tragic, subculture superstar, Edie Sedgwick. I hesitate to comment further on this particular work, because it presently consumes me in my career and I’m sure I’ll be devoting an entire blog to it someday soon. But if you’re a fan of all-things-touching Warhol’s Factory, the film is a must-see. Or if you just want to see a lot of full frontal nudity from a former Vogue model who’d recently gotten a boob job, there’s that.

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