Thanks again to those of you who came to the opening at Verlaine this week. Colleen and I enjoyed the evening, and we hope you did, too. For the record, the cocktail made with vodka infused with chili peppers and cucumbers, then mixed with fresh lime juice and passionfruit puree is out of sight. I kid you not. Those guys (specifically our bartender Keith, in this case) mix a damn fine drink.
Monthly Archives: March 2009
Thanks, people, for all the comments, essays, ruminations and thoughtful insights. For me, it was enlightening to learn why you loved your favorite musicians. I loved hearing your stories and enjoyed the enthusiasm and detail you shared with me. It was awfully difficult to narrow it down to five, let alone one. So I picked two.
Congratulations to Kelsey McCune of Portland, Oregon, and Mark Brush of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kelsey wrote a beautiful piece about Nina Simone and Mark explained how David Byrne has enriched his life. Both are reprinted below. Each one included a link to a song, for sort of a multi-media effect.
Kelsey and Mark, I’ll start work on your paintings next week, and will post the finished products on this blog when they’re done. Your original paintings will arrive via US Mail.
I love David Byrne because his voice isn’t one you’d pick out of a crowd and say, “that boy needs to record some records!” But… it doesn’t matter. It’s in his heart. And he lays it out there for us. I pick it up and I love it. I’ve always loved his music. It transports me.
“I Zimbra” plays and I’m suddenly driving my VW Bus down McMillan Avenue in Cincinnati again. My friends piled in the back in a happy post-party haze. We listen to the music, think about the girls we met, and the laughs we’ve shared, and where we’re going next in our lives. The moment in time is marked.
“This Must Be the Place” plays and I’m sharing my first dance with Andrea. Friends and family encircle us.
“Life is Long” plays and it’s seven years later and I’m again in my wife’s arms dancing in our little kitchen. The dishes encircle us.
I’ve locked eyes with David Byrne before. It was during his “Feelings” concert and I’m dancing my ass off despite my best efforts to just bob my head. And it’s not just the music that moves. He wraps some performance art into the whole thing. A big pink fuzzy suit, dance pips with his back-up singers, and later, a plaid skirt to match his back-up singers. I’m about twenty feet away and David Byrne looks down from the stage at me. He sees how much fuckin’ fun I’m having. He sees what his music is doing, and we exchange a laugh together.
It’s five years later, and there he is again. Up on stage in Detroit singing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston. This comes after several sets with the string players from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra backing him up. You’d think it would be a cheesy song to sing, but he puts his heart into it – out it comes – and it’s beautiful. Yep, I want to dance with somebody too.
And here’s Kelsey’s:
Music. Sometimes in the background lilting and subtle, coaxing conversation, helping me melt into the bath tub, or turn soil in my garden. Other times the all encompassing only thing that matters, driving rhythms dancing through my veins—moving my body, my mind. Solace, inspiration, motivation, even distraction…but always a constant.
Music as a time and a place, people and conversations.
I found an old Police cassette tape in my truck the other day. The heat and passing years had stretched Sting’s voice out into a mad warbling, but still I was whisked immediately back to the road trip through Arizona when I bought that tape, my first time driving in the snow, a lover of nearly a decade ago by my side, his hand on my thigh reassuring, and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” in time with the wipers.
Cat Stevens “Wild World” when that same lover and I parted ways.
Ravi Shankar and I’m a child breathing in the scent of my father’s pungent pipe tobacco, hearing the pages of his book turn, a clearing of the throat and sitar as I drift off to sleep.
Right now I’m listening to Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet as I often do when I write.
So much music in the world. More than any one of us will ever be able to discover. So many moments defined, made prismatic and eternal. How to choose just one?
I have to go with my first thought when I read your blog.
Dr. Nina Simone. “The High Priestess of Soul!”
Her voice commands and leads me through a breadth of emotion that is unparalleled. From joyous to outraged, melancholy, contemplative, giddy laughter, tears. There are times when her lyrics can simply fall away; she could be singing about asparagus, but her voice and piano will lift you or crush you at will. That said, her lyrics are often of the utmost importance. Sometimes, as with “Mississippi Goddam” she juxtaposes her lyrics and music against one another to end up highlighting the poignancy of her position.
She was immensely talented, spectacularly versatile and hugely politically important, but to bring this back to my idea of crystallized moments in life I have to look specifically at “Lilac Wine.”
This is not an original song, but as far as I’m concerned, she owns it. Her voice is to my ears, dank and syrupy the way I imagine Lilac wine would be to my tongue.
And when I hear this song I am with Nancy and Mary Anne—my cheeks are cool from drying tears and as the song says, “I drink much more than I ought to drink, because it brings me back you…” We are not drinking Lilac wine, far from it. Nancy drinks icy light beer, barely tinted yellow if she were to pour it into a glass, Mary Anne drinks bottles of cheap red wine that purple her lips, and I have my bourbon and soda (more or less soda depending, as the night progresses.) And the you we bring back is my mom, Nancy’s sister, Mary Anne’s friend.
This song and Nina Simone’s grounding voice provide an opening to touch on things that are hard to access on our own. No matter what the conversation is before “Lilac Wine” comes on—afterward we always turn to remembrances and are always better for it.
And when I’m away from Nancy and Mary Anne, Nina Simone brings them back to me too.
So powerful this thing, this constant. Music.
Thank you Dr. Nina Simone, and thank you John for the inspiration.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed. I got an awful lot out of your responses, and learned about some good new music (new to ME, anyway) to boot.
On Sunday afternoon I put the paintings up on the walls at Verlaine for the show that opens tonight. Hope you can make it. We’ll be there from 6:00 to 9:00, with an open bar for the first hour. Folks, let me tell you: these people know how to make a cocktail. Colleen had a concoction made with cucumber and chili pepper infused vodkas and juices… mmmmm-WAH. Probably the best cocktail I’ve had in Manhattan in two years. Maybe three.
And tonight I’ll announce the winner of the “favorite musician” contest. Some lucky music lover will get an original portrait. Got quite a few responses, which you can see here. Thanks, folks. It was enlightening, informative and moving to read your responses.
The graffiti-artist-turned-icon-maker Shepard Fairey has been under scrutiny the past several weeks when it was discovered that the photo upon which he based his famous Obama poster was originally taken by an Associated Press photographer.
Is it fair use? Open source? An old-fashioned swipe? That’s to be decided.
I saw this exhibit at the Pulse art show recently here in New York. Artist R. Luke Dubois has dissected presidential State of the Union addresses (43 of them, one for each president through Bush the Deuce), presenting the most frequently used words in each as optometrist charts, the most used word at the top, the next most on the second line, etc.
I’ll show six of them below (as best my little camera could capture), but you can can see the entire collection here. Each one is at the bottom of the page, Washington’s on the left, W’s on the, um, right.
Draw your own conclusions. As an artist who loves history, I found it a fascinating time capsule. I enjoyed some of the irony. For instance, note that Nixon’s most-used word is “truly.” As my friend Mike Sorgatz said upon seeing it, “Only a liar would use that word so conspicuously.”
This week I visited the studio of one of my all-time favorite cartoonists, Al Jaffee. He’s the fellow who did (and still does) the “fold-ins” on the inside back cover of Mad magazine. Not to mention “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and countless other classic pieces. He was one of the ‘usual gang of idiots’ from way back.
He is a cool and gracious gent, and I’m glad I took the chance to make his acquaintance. We talked for a good long time. He showed me what he’s working on now and invited me to an upcoming book-signing. (Strand Books on Broadway near Union Square, April 14th, 7 p.m. BE THERE.)
I had with me a book of his collected works from Mad that I’ve owned since I was about 12 years old. He signed it. I left with a feeling of elation. Meeting a childhood idol, I’d reconnected with my adolescent self. And it was cool.
If you could meet one of your childhood heroes, who would it be? Do it. I highly recommend it.
March 9, 2009
Artist John Tebeau’s show opens March 24 at Verlaine in Manhattan’s Lower East Side
Tebeau will announce the winner of his painting giveaway contest at the opening reception
New York, N.Y. – New York artist John Tebeau opens his third solo show in Manhattan on March 24 at Verlaine, named the best art bar on the Lower East Side by the Village Voice.
Besides checking out Tebeau’s colorful, cartoon-influenced pop art and enjoying an open bar, Tebeau offers another reason to attend the opening: you could win a free painting.
Through March 20, Tebeau is running a contest on his blog (www.johntebeau.wordpress.com) offering a free commissioned painting of the winner’s favorite musician.
Tebeau writes in the contest’s explanation, “Tell me about why you dig your favorite musician. ANY musician. Even Mozart or Tom Jones. Is it a certain moment that inspired you? A song? Is it what they ‘stand for?’ What is it about them that moves you?”
Tebeau, who has painted musicians including John Lennon, Billie Holiday, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, conceived the contest while feeling wistful about the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, approaching in April. Tebeau is a big fan of Jazz Fest and wanted to drum up enough painting sales to fund a return trip to the Big Easy. He decided to offer a free painting to the person who best articulates the love of a musician.
“I thought this could be the good karma way to get to Jazz Fest,” Tebeau said. “You get what you give. I’ll give someone a painting of a musician they love, and hopefully I’ll get to see some musicians I love.”
Tebeau’s Verlaine show will include more than just his paintings of musicians. He’ll also offer pop culture icons, reinterpretations of classic paintings and cool views of urban settings, among other samplings from both his latest work and some older favorites.
John Tebeau’s art show at Verlaine runs March 23 through the end of April. The opening is 6-9 p.m. March 24 at Verlaine, 110 Rivington, between Essex and Ludlow, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Open bar for the first hour, drink specials for the remainder of the evening.
In addition, Tebeau will be part of a group show titled “Jazz and Art, visual art work about America’s own swinging musical art form” at Hudson Guild Gallery, in New York’s artsy Chelsea neighborhood. That show opens April 16 at Hudson Guild, 441 W. 26th Street, between 9th and 10th avenues, and continues through June 10.
Tebeau is a self-taught illustrator and painter. His cartooning is influenced by his love of alternative comics like Robert Crumb and the 1950s-era Mad comics, and his colorful, pop-art painting style brings that approach, as well. He draws painting inspiration from Wayne Thiebaud, Peter Max, Robert Indiana, Alice Neel and Andy Warhol, among others.
Tebeau began cartooning in elementary school in North Muskegon, Mich., encouraged when he realized that girls thought it was cute. After graduating from University of Michigan, he moved to Chicago, where he made a living designing and silk screening T-shirts, and later cofounded Comic Arts Monthly, distributed in Chicago and Ann Arbor, Mich.
He relocated to California’s Bay Area, working as a barista, spending much of his time teaching himself to paint. He also did freelance design and illustration work and paintings commissioned by friends and acquaintances who liked his developing work.
Tebeau now lives in Manhattan, working as a self-employed artist and graphic designer. One of his most consistent clients is Arbor Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor, Mich., which uses Tebeau’s work on its bottles, six-packs and tap handles. Tebeau is an artist in residence at the Brooklyn Artists Gym, where he has exhibited in group shows. He also teaches after-school art classes at the School for Ethical Culture.
John Tebeau’s blog: https://johntebeau.wordpress.com/
John Tebeau’s portfolio: http://www.tebeau.com
John Tebeau’s art for sale: jctebeau.etsy.com
John Tebeau on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johntebeau
Contact: John Tebeau, (646) 309-1059, firstname.lastname@example.org
For images from Tebeau’s show or a portrait of Tebeau, email email@example.com. Please specify whether you prefer high resolution for publication or low resolution for Web use.