Amoeblog

Tricks of the Trade

Posted by Whitmore, February 13, 2009 10:50am | Post a Comment
I recently remembered some tricks of the trade, so to speak, dwelling in my fever shucked head. Here is some new artwork for the singles boxes from Amoeba Hollywood’s world of 45-rpm-7-inch little-records-with-the big-holes. Though it wasn’t the intention, these arty little boxes seem to work in the same vein as a flame mesmerizes the moth; seduction by the bright light of desire, a glint of reckless narcissism, the corporeal flicker of vinyl nuggets -- the need to touch, commune, possess ... OK, I know, that’s horrifically over stated, but god knows I’m not the only one who has spent a small fortune on vinyl around here. Oh, the plight of a record geek.

Jorn Utzon 1918 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 3, 2008 06:09pm | Post a Comment

The architect who designed one of the world’s most recognizable buildings, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, yet never saw the completed project, Jorn Utzon, died of heart failure in his sleep in Copenhagen this last week. He was 90.
Born April 9, 1918 in Aalborg, Denmark, Jorn Utzon studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. After establishing his own practice in Copenhagen in 1950, he entered the 1956 international architecture competition to design the new Sydney Opera House. He spent six months designing the unique sail-like roofs, his nautical design is said to have been inspired by sections of an orange. Utzon triumphed over 232 other entries; he was just 38 years age and hardly known outside his native country. For the next five years he worked on the project from his office in Denmark until he moved his family to Sydney to oversee construction in 1962.
It would be Utzon’s greatest design, on which most of his architectural reputation is based. It is also Australia’s most famous landmark and one of the most celebrated, influential and iconic buildings of the 20th century.
The Opera House is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Sydney Harbour at Benelong Point. The five performance halls are housed under ten reinforced concrete shells, dressed in white tiles. The sail-like shells and the upturned ships’ hulls rise 60 meters high above a four-and-a-half-acre concrete and granite platform which was inspired by the ceremonial steps of Monte Alban in Mexico.
However in 1966, seven years before completion, controversy erupted. Utzon resigned and packed up his family, leaving Australia never to return. With only the shell of the Opera House done, Utzon found himself in the middle of a power struggle and at odds with local politicians, specifically Davis Hughes, the New South Wales minister for public works who criticized the cost overruns and delays. At a price tag of more than $100 million Australian dollars, the original project was budgeted at ridiculously low estimate of $7 million. After Utzon’s resignation, the Opera House was completed by Government appointed architects who finished the interiors by drastically changing the original layouts to the five theaters.
In recent years Australia had tried reconciling with Jorn Utzon. In 2002, he was commissioned to update the interior renovations, in an attempt to alleviate the acoustic problems and bring the building closer to its original vision. In 2003, Mr. Utzon received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney. And in October of 2004 the Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated.
In 2003 Utzon won what is considered architecture’s highest honor, The Pritzker. Frank Gehry, one of the jurors, said Jorn Utzon “… made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”
After leaving Australia, Utzon worked in Switzerland and Spain before settling in Majorca in the mid-1970s, where he would live and work for the rest of his life. Besides designing the Sydney Opera House, he designed the Bagsværd Church in Denmark (1968-76), the National Assembly of Kuwait, completed in 1983 and rebuilt in 1993, many private residences, and his own home in Majorca.
Jorn Utzon is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lis Fenger, three children, Jan, Kim, and Lin, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Frank Cieciorka 1939 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 2, 2008 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Just over a week ago graphic artist, art director, watercolorist and political activist, Frank Cieciorka died at his home in Alderpoint, Calif. at the age of 69. The cause of death was emphysema. Since the early 1980s he has gained recognition for his watercolors of Humboldt County landscapes, but it’s his 1960’s woodcut rendering of a clenched-fist that will secure him an indelible place in history.
 
Born in Johnson City in upstate New York in1939, Cieciorka moved westward to attend San José State College in 1957 to study art. After graduation in 1964 he became a volunteer in Freedom Summer, the civil rights campaign initiated to help African Americans register to vote in Mississippi, the same campaign and summer that saw the Ku Klux Klan kidnap and murder three Freedom Summer volunteers -- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Cieciorka would become a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which organized the campaign.
 
In 1965 Cieciorka returned to San Francisco and created a woodcut print inspired by his experiences in Mississippi; his image, simply entitled Hand, was initially printed as a poster and flyer for the 1967 Stop the Draft Week. The image quickly struck a chord with the civil rights and anti-war movements of the day; shortly thereafter the Students for a Democratic Society incorporated the image as their logo.
 
In 1966 Cieciorka also created an image of a black panther for the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, which was started by SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael to challenge the segregationist party in Mississippi. When Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party in Oakland, they received permission from the SNCC to use the panther image, artist Emory Douglas re-designed a bolder, more streamlined image for the Black Panther’s publications.
 
Cieciorka would go on to create posters for labor movements, including the United Farm Workers and for many radical and underground magazines including Paul Krassner's The Realist.
 
Frank Cieciorka is survived by his wife, Karen Horn, his stepdaughter, Zena Goldman Hunt and his brother, James Cieciorka.

 

Guy Peellaert 1934 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 22, 2008 10:02am | Post a Comment


Belgian artist Guy Peellaert, most famous for his album cover illustrations of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and The Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock 'n' Roll and his ground breaking art book Rock Dreams, died this past Monday of kidney cancer in Paris. He was 74.

Born in Brussels in 1934 into an aristocratic family, Peellaert broke with his family as a teenager, first by entering the military, then by choosing an art career over his father’s demands to pursue a career in medicine. Peellaert first major success was the comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, published in 1966 in the French magazine Hara-Kiri. The central character, Jodelle, was modeled after Ye-Ye singer Sylvie Vartan. Peellart's second comic strip, Pravda, again modeled the heroine after a French singer, the iconic Françoise Hardy. In the 1970’s Peellaert went on to design movie posters for such films as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver; Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire and Robert Altman's Short Cuts.

But Peellaert is best known for his rock album covers -- especially his controversial Diamond Dogs design from 1974. The gate-fold cover features Bowie as a half-man, half-dog grotesque. Peellaert painted in a photo-realistic style and the controversy stems from how well he flaunted the hybrid genitalia. I guess that was something of a no-no in the early 1970’s. A few copies of the original cover inexplicably survived, today they fetch upwards of a few thousand dollars each. The initial RCA release had the genitalia airbrushed out, but the recent reissue on Rykodisc/EMI revives the original artwork.

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Mad Magazine Art Auction

Posted by Whitmore, October 17, 2008 06:06pm | Post a Comment


First thing I should mention… in tough economic times, especially when stocks and bonds have been naughty, it’s often been suggested that investing in art makes sound dollar sense. So with my two bits of wisdom said, here’s a suggestion on how to spend your ever dwindling cash cow.

Next month on November 14th three dozen pages of original artwork from MAD Magazine will be put up for auction. The pieces are expected to bring anywhere between 8 to 40 thousand dollars each. Some have estimated that as much as $400,000 dollars will be bid on these artifacts from the 1950’s. Several covers featuring MAD's official mascot -- the grinning, jug-eared boy wonder Alfred E. Neuman -- will be among the 36 items to go on the block in Dallas at the Heritage Auction Galleries, including the first cover drawing of Alfred E. by the legendary artist Norman Mingo. It's from MAD's issue No. 30, from December, 1956. It shows the gap-toothed icon as a write-in candidate for president, saying "What -- me worry?" while in the background an elephant and donkey are locked in mortal battle.

The 36 items up for bid will be previewed at New York's Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art starting on October 29th.

Founded by William Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman in 1952, MAD quickly became one of the most popular magazines of the day with its blend of absurdist, screwball, and irreverent humor -- especially with its clever parodies of Hollywood, political satires, and MAD’s brilliant ability to upend any number of the self-absorbed, bloated nabobs strewn across our pop-cultural highways.

MAD is also the last surviving title from the notorious and critically acclaimed EC Comics line that worried most every parent and teacher back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Concerns stemmed from EC’s infinite array of ghastly stories, violent-prone anti-heroes and gruesome plot twists, no doubt sickening the imaginations of every kid within eyeshot of such horror. Now owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment and subsidiary DC Comics, MAD magazine is published in over 20 countries, and has been adapted as an off-Broadway stage show, as a board game and as television ads for Mountain Dew. Several MAD albums have also been released such as Musically Mad, Mad Disco and Mad Grooves, featuring the flexi-disc hit “It’s a Gas,” and of course the sketch-comedy series, Mad TV, all sharing DNA with the ever distinguished Alfred E. Neuman.

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