Category Archives: pop art

“Who Will Save Us?” (a nice article by Stephanie Thompson)

(The following is a little write-up by Brooklyn arts reporter Stephanie Thompson on the recent show I have in Park Slope which ends Friday. Thanks, Steph!)

Who Will Save Us?

The Art of John Tebeau

It could be the bacon or the inviting open doors that draws one first into the new Dizzy’s Diner on the corner of President St. and Park Slope’s bustling 5th Ave. But once inside, the bold poster-style art that screams from the walls is the big star.

The arresting images by John Tebeau, up until July 27, immediately bring a warm smile of recognition followed by a giggle at the artist’s sly clever twists on the

“1978”

familiar. In the powerful illustrated montage, 1978, there is the full white-toothed smile and solid stand-up breasts of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, power bracelets braced and ready. There is Steve Martin, mouth and eyes open wide, an arrow through his head. There is Cap’n Crunch and the Play-Do primary-colored O-faced grin of Mr. Bill. There too are the gun-toting feather-haired girls of Charlie’s Angels, the Grease logo and John Belushi’s mug atop a “College” sweatshirt. There they all are and there we are, those of us who remember, brought back to a comfortable time and place, secure.

As a longtime illustrator and packaging designer, Mr. Tebeau clearly understands the power of icons and symbols to motivate emotions and drive people to action.

“I try to inspire or excite people with iconography, I want my art to be useful,” Mr. Tebeau said in the same earnest winking tone of his fabulously entertaining images. “If it makes somebody feel better or focuses them in a way, great, then it’s worked.”

Stroh’s, That Seventies Brew

And it has. The blue-skinned James Bond depiction, the purple-hued Duke Ellington, the orangey-red rendering of Star Trek’s Uhura, not to mention the Stroh’s beer can, all goose the diner-goer to stop mid-bite of bacon and reflect on the great motivational power of heroes, superheroes and icons from a certain place and time in history. Time past always seems better, more hopeful somehow. We can see the changes that artists make more easily with hindsight.

Mr. Tebeau’s work is inspired by artists Peter Max, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso whose bold posters reflected what he calls thejoyous optimism” of San Francisco in the fast-changing ‘60s and ‘70s.

By hearkening back to that time, Mr. Tebeau well captures that optimism and the necessity of bringing it back again.

“It’s easy to get distracted in life, especially the way it is now, with a lot of stimulus and not all of it good,” he said. For Mr. Tebeau personally and, he believes, universally, images and icons offer up necessary inspiration and focus to drive one’s intended life work.

“I see work as a form of salvation, although maybe that sounds too religious,” Mr. Tebeau said. “But ‘work’ is what you’re supposed to do in life. John D. Rockefeller said, ‘If you want the key to happiness, find something you do fairly well and do it with all your heart and soul.’”

As the regulated work world morphs more and more into unstructured freelance, necessitating greater self-motivation, Mr. Tebeau’s suggestion is actually faith-based: we need to trust and believe in a fair bit of divine intervention.

In Universe, Mr. Tebeau reflects the hand of God offering Adam an Ace of Hearts.

Divine Intervention

“It’s about good luck and love and the divine, about the unlikely opportunities and interventions that can come into your life that you need to seize and claim, that can help motivate you,” he said.

It is reflective of Mr. Tebeau’s own great joyous optimism that he believes this can happen to people, to anyone.

“If you focus on a vision of what you want, you can bring it to yourself, draw it to you…” he said.

As proof, he offers up the story of an investigative journalist who asked him for a rendering of his hero, Edward R. Murrow. After hanging the image over his

Murrow Five-Way

work space, the man went on to win three Edward R. Murrow awards.

Mr. Tebeau is commissioned for such work but also wants to inspire more widely with his images.

“Art doesn’t work if no one sees it,” Mr. Tebeau says, grateful extending thanks to Dizzy’s owner Matheo Pisciotta and his wife, Mary Fraioli.

The couple works with Park Slope-based art curating service Radar Curatorial to set up shows featuring local artists like Mr. Tebeau every three months at the new location on 5th Ave. as well as on the original location at 9th St. and 8th Ave.

“We have such amazing talent in Brooklyn, it’s great to support them,” Ms. Fraioli said.

Her husband agrees. “I say, ‘Buy art, save lives.’” Is the saving just of the starving artists, or is it ourselves, that is the question.

The couple has featured the art and music of staff as well as that of friends and neighbors since they first opened their doors in 1997, among those they gave their start the now well-renown photographer Lori Berkowitz.  More recently, they formalized the effort by hiring Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt of Radar and offering wait-staff a 5% commission for any art they sell.

Visit Dizzy’s for the bacon, for sure, but think of buying some salve for the soul as well.

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Filed under Art Shows, brooklyn, cartoon art, pop art

The Lineage of My Artwork

Show alert: the fall group exhibition at BWAC (aka: The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Where EVERYBODY Can Be a Contenda!”) opens on September 25. Over 300 artists are showing their stuff and the theme is LINEAGE. As in your own, personal artistic lineage.

Artists are providing narrative sheets to display with their work, explaining the significance of the pieces they choose to show. The idea is to enlighten the viewer concerning their artistic development, path, history. I’ll share mine here, along with images of the four pieces I have in the show. Hope to see you on the afternoon of the 25th. It’s in Red Hook, waaaaay down at the south end of Van Brunt, in the civil-war era warehouse across from Fairway. Come for the art, stay for the unbeatable deal on brisket– this week only $8.99 a pound!

Bing!

For BWAC’s Lineage show I chose four pieces that illustrate my own personal artistic lineage from cartoonist to pop painter: a lover of humor, nostalgia and place.

First we have “Domm Da Dom Domm”, an homage to two of the finest cartoonists America has ever produced: Harvey Kurtzman and William Elder. Like so many others, I started drawing thanks to Mad magazine, and have maintained the touch of a cartoonist ever since. Kurtzman was the editor of Mad back in the 1950s and Elder was one of his stable of cartoon superstars. This painting is a faithful reproduction of a panel from their classic 1954 spoof of the TV show Dragnet, with its heavy-handed theme music – “Domm da dom-domm! (pause, pause, pause, pause) Dommm da dom-dom-DOMMMM!” ­– which blasted forth at even the slightest dramatic provocation.

"Domm Da Dom Domm," after Kurtzman & Elder

Thanks to guys like Kurtzman and Elder (and Mad magazine in general, and Wacky Packages, and Stan Freberg, and SNL, etc), parody and lampoon became a standard part of my artistic voice. And like all guys in their 20s, I read the beat classics by Jack Kerouac. He was trying to use the typewriter like Charlie Parker played the sax. I wondered what an LP would look like if Kerouac had been a musician instead of a writer. It would have been released by Blue Note, of course, with a cover in the style of designer Reid Miles. Neal surely would have been Jack’s sideman, and it would have featured Ginsberg, Orlovsky and Burroughs, too. “On the Road LP” (a print of an original painting) is a perfect example of parody in my work.

"On the Road LP"

Pop art and San Francisco played major roles in my evolution as an artist, and they’re both part of “7-Up There” (here as a print of my original acrylic on canvas painting). Warhol, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Ruscha… all those pop artists made the whole messy modern world look like art, and when I lived in SF I felt like I was in a pop art museum 24/7, snapping hundreds of pictures during my two years there. One that I took in North Beach (turf of the beats) featured a remarkable 7-Up sign from the 1970s, mounted on a Victorian storefront/home. Double nostalgia, double pop art. And San Francisco is where I started painting in earnest (as opposed to exclusively cartooning), so as a place it’s an important part of my artistic story, too

"7-Up There"

“Blue Front” typifies my love of line, pop art, street scenes and another place near and dear to my heart: Ann Arbor, Michigan. As an undergrad I shopped at Blue Front and years later, when I returned to Ann Arbor to live, I noticed they still had their old Pepsi sign out front, along with the classic wall-painting from the 1930s still in tact. I took a picture on a November day (typically grey, clean and chilly) and reinterpreted it in acrylic on canvas. I had my first art show in Ann Arbor, and it will always be an important part of who I am, as a person and an artist.

"Blue Front"

There you have it. Be there on Sept. 25 or, you know, be an equiangular, equilateral, quadrilateral. Glayvin. Bur-HOY!

In Frink We Trvst

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“Pumpkin Pie with a Mountain o’ Whipped Cream,” Day 26 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

"Pumpkin Pie with a Mountain o' Whipped Cream"

Come on, people. Give it up for pumpkin pie! And whipped cream! Whipped cream AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE! This is an original 5″ by 7″ acrylic painting, on illustration board, The paint of the whipping is thick and textural, giving it a Wayne Thiebaud sort of feeling. The colors are warm and autumnal. It is, in a word, luscious.

And the pumpkin. Let’s talk for a second about gourds, folks. Better yet, let’s see what this guy has to say about mother-loving gourds. [Rated R]

I’m doing a painting each day this month. 30 paintings in 30 days. Being November, the Month of the Feast, the theme is Things We Love to Eat and Drink.

A painting a day, and yes, they’re for sale. And they’re affordable: $99, which includes free first-class shipping. You can order on my Etsy store by clicking here. Check this blog every day (or the Etsy store) to see the new painting du jour. Each one will be 5″ by 7″ on sturdy illustration board.

I’ll need some content, folks, so if you have any suggestions for good subjects, leave a comment or write to me at john@tebeau.com. What goodies would you like to see memorialized as art? What’s your favorite comfort food? Your most-loved childhood treat? The hometown food you miss most? If you moved away tomorrow, what local specialty would you long for? And, looking ahead, what other themes would you suggest?

Tip o’ the day: Check out EatingtheRoad.com. The flow-charts alone are worth the trip.

Coming soon: Wisconsin’s Pride: cheese & summer sausage, a deconstructed Blimpy Burger, Cafe Du Monde beignets & café au lait, and a few holiday favorites.

Tomorrow’s painting: It’s the day after Thanksgiving… what do you think??

Thanks, Michael Stern of RoadFood.com for his mention here.

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“That 70’s Brew (Stroh’s)”: a Very Special Installment of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

"Stroh's – that '70s Brew"

The night before Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Eve, if you will), is reputed to be the biggest bar night in the U. S. of A.* Bigger than New Year’s, bigger than the night before I got married. Okay, Vernor’s (ginger ale) sold already. That was a Michigan favorite. I’m a Michigan boy. I’ve got another Great Lakes State favorite right here. And this time, it’s not 5″ by 7″. It’s [relatively] ginormous: 16″ by 20″. HUUUUUUGE!!!

STROH’S. It was once only available in Michigan, sort of like how you could only get Coor’s out west. As if it was all exclusive. Why, I don’t know. Obscure liquor laws left over from the Coolidge era? (“Calvin Coolidge” what was what known as a “President” in the “1920s,.” Read about him “here.”) Something having to do with West Michigan Calvinist Reformed Christians? I don’t know. All I know is that it was VERY, VERY IMPORTANT to keep Stroh’s away from the rest of America. Not anymore. Not now. I present Stroh’s for the people. VINTAGE Stroh’s, from the’70s. And still only, $99, for a giant painting (relative to those pipsqueaks I’ve been doing). And it’s on CANVAS, stretched and ready to hang. Click here to purchase.

I’m doing a painting each day this month. 30 paintings in 30 days. Being November, the Month of the Feast, the theme is Things We Love to Eat and Drink.

A painting a day, and yes, they’re for sale. And they’re affordable: $99, which includes free first-class shipping (except this one with is, as I’ve explained [relatively] huge, so I’m charging a nominal fee for shipping). You can order on my Etsy store by clicking here. Check this blog every day (or the Etsy store) to see the new painting du jour. Each one will be 5″ by 7″ on sturdy illustration board.

I’ll need some content, folks, so if you have any suggestions for good subjects, leave a comment or write to me at john@tebeau.com. What goodies would you like to see memorialized as art? What’s your favorite comfort food? Your most-loved childhood treat? The hometown food you miss most? If you moved away tomorrow, what local specialty would you long for? And, looking ahead, what other themes would you suggest?

Tip o’ the day: Check out EatingtheRoad.com. The flow-charts alone are worth the trip.

Coming soon: Wisconsin’s Pride: cheese & summer sausage, a deconstructed Blimpy Burger, Cafe Du Monde beignets & café au lait, and a few holiday favorites.

Tomorrow’s painting: sweet and creamy.

Thanks, too, to Michael Stern of RoadFood.com for his mention here.

*Drunks of America Assn., 1998

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“Vintage Vernor’s”: Day 24 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days (SOLD)

"Vintage Vernor's"

If you’re from the Detroit area in particular or Michigan in general, you may have an appreciation for Vernor’s, one of America’s great regional soft drinks. This spicy, hyper-bubbly barrel aged ginger ale has made Michigan kids sneeze for generations. Here’s a look at one of their vintage bottle, all hot-an’-spicy-like.

I’m doing a painting each day this month. 30 paintings in 30 days. Being November, the Month of the Feast, the theme is Things We Love to Eat and Drink.

A painting a day, and yes, they’re for sale. (except this one, which has already been sold) And they’re affordable: $99, which includes free first-class shipping. You can order on my Etsy store by clicking here. Check this blog every day (or the Etsy store) to see the new painting du jour. Each one will be 5″ by 7″ on sturdy illustration board.

I’ll need some content, folks, so if you have any suggestions for good subjects, leave a comment or write to me at john@tebeau.com. What goodies would you like to see memorialized as art? What’s your favorite comfort food? Your most-loved childhood treat? The hometown food you miss most? If you moved away tomorrow, what local specialty would you long for? And, looking ahead, what other themes would you suggest?

Tip o’ the day: Check out EatingtheRoad.com. The flow-charts alone are worth the trip.

Coming soon: Wisconsin’s Pride: cheese & summer sausage, a deconstructed Blimpy Burger, Cafe Du Monde beignets & café au lait, and a few holiday favorites.

Thanks, too, to Michael Stern of RoadFood.com for his mention here.

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Filed under 30 paintings in 30 days, drink, pop art, SOLD

“Chicago Hot Dog: Fully Loaded,” Day 16 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days (SOLD)

Chicago Hot Dog: Fully Loaded

In all it’s glory… the pride of the Windy City… the tube steak of big shoulders… it’s the Chicago hot dog, with all the fixins. That would be a Vienna Beef dog, tomatoes, pickles, onions, hot little sport peppers, yellow mustard and the brightest-green relish on the planet, all nestled in a pillowy, poppy-seed bun and dusted with celery salt.

Remember Farley and dose guys on dat “Da Bears” skit on SNL? This is what finished them off.

I’m doing a painting each day this month. 30 paintings in 30 days. Being November, the Month of the Feast, the theme is Things We Love to Eat and Drink.

A painting a day, and yes, they’re for sale. And they’re affordable: $99, which includes free first-class shipping. You can order on my Etsy store by clicking here. Check this blog every day (or the Etsy store) to see the new painting du jour. Each one will be 5″ by 7″ on sturdy illustration board.

I’ll need some content, folks, so if you have any suggestions for good subjects, leave a comment or write to me at john@tebeau.com. What goodies would you like to see memorialized as art? What’s your favorite comfort food? Your most-loved childhood treat? The hometown food you miss most? If you moved away tomorrow, what local specialty would you long for? And, looking ahead, what other themes would you suggest?

Let’s talk about comfort food. Mac and cheese has been suggested many times, and also meatloaf. What’s your favorite comfort food?

Thanks, too, to Michael Stern of RoadFood.com for his mention here.

Yesterday’s painting: “The Carny Food of Kings”

"The Carny Food of Kings"

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America a la Mode: Apple Pie. Day 10 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days.

ApplePie

"America a la Mode"

Well, here we are: Day 10 of my 30 paintings in 30 days series. This month’s theme: food and drink. And today, it’s time for dessert, though after all that Coke, kids, do you really need more sugar? Here we have apple pie a la mode, which is French for avec le more fat and sugar. Mm. When was the last time you had a really kick-ass piece of apple pie with good ice cream? For me it was a month ago. Got the pie at a bakery on Montague Street here in Brooklyn, and paired it with some dulce de leche Haagen Dazs (Dammit, where are the umlauts on this thing. Not to mention the accent graves.)

Look at all those foreign terms in one paragraph. My God, mommy, that… that’s like AMERICA, ain’t it? E pluribus punum or some such.

Anyway(s), you can buy the painting here, if you’re so inclined.

I’m doing a painting each day this month. 30 paintings in 30 days. Being November, the Month of the Feast, the theme is Things We Love to Eat and Drink.

A painting a day, and yes, they’re for sale. And they’re affordable: $99, which includes free first-class shipping. You can buy them on my Etsy store by clicking here. Check this blog every day (or the Etsy store) to see the new painting du jour. Each one is 5″ by 7″ on sturdy illustration board; perfect for a standard size frame, or easy to matte for a larger one.

I’ll need some content, folks, so if you have any suggestions for good subjects, leave a comment or write to me at john@tebeau.com. What would you like to see memorialized as art? What’s your favorite comfort food? Your most-loved childhood treat? The hometown food you miss most? If you moved away tomorrow, what local specialty would you long for? And, looking ahead, what other themes would you suggest?

Thanks to those of you who have contributed (among other things) Muskegon’s pride: the G&L chili dog; a Chicago hot dog: fully loaded; rocket (or bomb) pops, Zingerman’s pastrami on rye; and a hot, open-face turkey sandwich. What else ya got?

Thanks, too, to Michael Stern of RoadFood.com for his mention here.

Tomorrow’s painting: who knows? I’m tired.

Yesterday’s painting: “Old Skool Coke Bottle.”

Old Skool Coke Bottle

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Filed under 30 paintings in 30 days, Food, original art, pop art