Greetings and felicitations to my friends, I hope you are enjoying the winter holidays of your choice and have had a healthy and happy 2015 and best wishes for 2016!
2015 was a fairly quiet year for me, no real travel aside from two day trips to New York on the bus and road trips to Richmond and Philadelphia. Hoping finances will improve in the next few years so I can resume my west coast jaunts (and better yet, foreign).
Without funds to travel I stayed at home and was quite productive, I’ve been doing a lot of painting on horse figurines and completed over 50 new pieces this year, all either now sold or on commission and am doing my best to finish all in a timely fashion and not get behind as has plagued me in the past! I am also happy in that I feel I still keep improving my techniques and finishing and take pride in my latest creations so hopefully the best is yet to come! I submitted a painted piece to the competition held by the Breyer Animal Creations at their annual Breyerfest Convention, and while I did not win the big prize I am proud that I made it into the finals of 6 pieces in their finishwork competition so that greatly helped me to believe in myself that I am still relevant!
My kitty Jonesy continues to comfort and amuse me. He is still growing and is *HUGE* - he was 24 ½ pounds a year ago and will visit Dr. Dan for his checkup next Monday and I am tempted to start a betting pool to take bets on how much he will weigh in at! (update: he weighed in at 27 pounds! Now to keep him from getting to 28!)
Celebrated my birthday in April by traveling up to NYC with Paula to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and had the great fortune to time it to coincide with an exhibit of some of Frank Frazetta’s masterworks including the “Death Dealer”. Went back to New York last weekend and was able to catch the new solo show by one of my favorite pop-surrealists, Mark Ryden, and the opening for the “Pandora’s Box” show including Anne Bachelier and Jessica Joslin.
And Paula and I made a great road trip with our friend Jo Ellen to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond over the summer to visit the amazing Paul Mellon Sporting art collection as well as the neat exhibit of life size photos of Japanese tattooed body suits.
The emotional low of the year was losing a dear friend to an aggressive cancer; it’s just not fair that it hits the nicest people and it’s hard to loose friends younger than you. At least I am left with happy memories as I was able to visit with him about 6 weeks before he passed when he was about to start a new round of chemotherapy and was in very high spirits and surrounded by good friends. I will forever cherish my memories of that wonderful day. Dear Keith, you will always be loved and forever in our hearts. He dearly loved the great race horse Secretariat so I am glad he got to see American Pharaoh finally break the long hiatus and become the newest Triple Crown winner. Funny how we sometimes say “I wonder if ‘x’ will happen again in my lifetime”.
I had a few incredible art finds. In 2008 I had found two paintings by the American surrealist artist Ruth Ray on ebay; they were two of a set of 4 horse paintings she did in the late 1950s that had been widely reproduced on prints, cards and puzzles in the day. Paula had introduced me to her work years before and I’d fallen madly for her beautiful strange style and I’d been on the lookout for any so I was amazed to find these two of her best known and loved pieces but the finding was bittersweet in also finding that I had just missed out on my favorite of the group that had closed the day before. A little voice in my head told me to keep checking that it would eventually resurface and in February of this year it appeared back on ebay! The fellow who had bought it decided to sell and in the meanwhile had it nicely framed and professionally cleaned! So “Copper Queen” came to join the other two (“Handsome Witch” and “Golden Ruler”); I absolutely love this strange painting of a stylized chestnut Tennessee Walking Horse in a barren Salvador Dali-esque landscape. Now to search for the last of the 4, “Storm King”!
I also lucked into an incredible self-portrait by LA artist Kevin Llewllyn on ebay early one morning for a crazy cheap buy-it-now – I must have been the first person to find it and can’t believe my luck! So now I have his “Self Portrait at Age 29”. (“Self Portrait at Age 28” is owned by the Gettys and appeared in a photo in Vanity Fair over their mantelpiece. His other work belongs to the likes of Kat Von D, Trent Reznor, Nikki Sixx and Alan Moulder so I am in very good company!) I also was able to get two wonderful new works by one of my favorite up and coming painters, Redd Walitzki who keeps knocking it out of the park; I know soon I won’t be able to afford her work as she gathers more attention and acclaim but more power to her!
And prints, always more prints – I picked up some wonderful pieces this year by Mark Ryden, James Jean, Nicholas Delort, Vania Zouravliov, Audrey Kawasaki, Tom Bagshaw, Chie Yoshii, Martin Wittfooth and some other favorites. I hope in a few years I can retire and buy a house with MORE WALLS FOR ALL THE ART!!!! J
While I did not make it to a lot of concerts this year I was able to see some of my favorites and enjoyed seeing Danzig, Ghost, Prong, Social Distortion, Midge Ure, Mike Stevens and Apocalyptica. Had tickets but sadly missed out on the Tiger Army Halloween shows in SoCal due to lack of fundage….pooh. So instead Paula and celebrated with classic Universal Monsters Dracula and Frankenstein at the AFI Theater with friends. As always I saw a TON of movies, my favorites so far were “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous “Crimson Peak”! We also got to see an incredibly bad one “Dangerous Men” at the Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn hosted by that fine expert on “cinema du fromage” Patton Oswalt just days before he was announced as the new “mad” (“TV’s son of TV’s Frank”) for the upcoming revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – whoo hoo!!! Early tomorrow morning we will be off to the Arclight to see the latest installment of the Star Wars saga and hope that J.J. Abrams can channel EARLY George Lucas as well as he channeled classic 80s ET era Steven Spielberg with “Super 8”.
I hope you are all doing well and I send you best wishes for a fantastic 2016 and may the force be with you!
Amazing art finds of 2015: left to right - “Copper Queen” by Ruth Ray
“Self Portrait at age 29 with Death” by Kevin Llewellyn