Monday, November 29, 2010

Back-to-Back baby! (cue the Rocky theme)

This morning I got some tremendous news to set a good tone for the week. Doug Barber, who heads up the Rivers & Spires Festival here in Clarksville called to tell me I had won their poster contest for the 2011 event. Last year was the first time the city had held this contest to get a local artist to design their festival poster. I had the honor of being the first artist chosen for the illustration I entered. Before 2010, they had been outsourcing the paintings to an out-of-state artist. The main reason they started the contest was to give local artists the opportunity to gain some exposure through this annual event. It was a real treat seeing my artwork on billboards, newspaper ads, and even tray covers at Wendy's last year! Keep an eye out for the new artwork around town toward the spring!
The 2010 Rivers & Spires Festival was a huge success drawing thousands of folks from all over the region.  This event has won a slew of awards over the past couple of years including the prestigious International Festivals & Events Association’s Gold Grand Pinnacle award and the State of Tennessee’s Tourism Spotlight Award. The festival has also been recognized as among the “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Bus Association and “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.  We also had the pleasure of hosting The Charlie Daniels Band as the weekend's headliner back in April.  

Here is my new work for the 2011 poster and the process of it becoming the winning design! I still have to meet with the event board over the next few weeks so this may be altered by their graphic designer. At any rate, here is the original illustration which was chosen!

I wanted to incorporate the same elements that made my drawing a winner last year but at the same time I couldn't do the same thing right?  One element I added in was the flags, which are a trademark of the festival. I also wanted make the illustration have a Downtown feel.  On the left is Franklin St and on the right City Hall to kind of frame the work out on both sides.  

As part of my prizes, I'll receive a free booth again at the Artz Galore section of the festival.  I hope to see you there for all the fun and festivities.  Stay tuned over the next few months for all the announcements as far as some big names in country music who will be headlining the main stage (If you can't stand the wait, I can give you a hint... I ran across some of the lineup already posted on Pollstar.)  The poster will also be made public with an announcement of my winning as soon as the design is finalized for print.

Just for you because today we're winners...

UPDATE Saturday, December 4th

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reminiscing about Danville Bridge

I always go home for the holidays.  I grew up in Tennessee Ridge, which is where my wife and I spent our Thanksgiving last night with my family.  This entire area of the mid-state is very rural.  The instant I cross the county line, I'm flooded with a full range of emotion and nostalgia for my late teens and backroad-driving, woods-tromping, creek-swimming good times.  I find it no coincidence the work of art which I chose to finish up tonight: an illustration I sketched out months back inspired by a bridge a few of us know about and had some candid moments around, on, in, and occasionally (for some) climbing on and/or falling off of.  I'd always wanted to do a drawing of the actual bridge, but here is the work inspired by it...

The Danville Bridge doesn't exist any more (as far as how we knew it.)  A bridge at one time crossed Kentucky Lake and connected Houston and Benton Counties.  I'm assuming when trains stopped running the tracks, Benton County demolished their side.  What was left was a framed bridge which ran about a quarter of the way out into the lake and stopped.  Well, we thought this was the coolest damn place in the world to sneak out to and hang out when we were in high school (and shortly thereafter.)  The walk to the edge was scary as hell considering at some point they had taken out the planks for about the first twenty yards from the water's bank to discourage people from venturing out onto it.  Some wonderful (and acrobatic) soul had remedied this at some point before we came along by welding a steel mesh walkway out to what was left of the bridge.  Heading out, you're looking straight down through this 18 inch wide mesh to the rocky lakeside, which was upwards of 40-50 feet below.  With no guard rails and nothing on either side of you but a loooooong drop down, hold your breath and keep looking forward.  A couple years ago, a local family purchased the land now and has since blocked access to the bridge from the public, isolating my experiences of this infamous spot to those which have already been played out.

In early 2000, I had abandoned my visual arts skills for those of the pen and paper and the limitless verse swarming in my head.  I was never to be found without a notebook (and I filled several in a three year period.)  Writing is a young man's sport and I figured I had to get my practice and drills in every chance I caught the fever of words in my brain.  One late night, I ventured out to Danville Bridge with a few of my close friends, we were on the tail end of an LSD trip and wanted to see the sun come up somewhere beautiful that morning.  Here is the poem inspired by the experience from my collection of poems entitled Dip and Trip .45, which you can preview and purchase here at Lulu Press.


walking about the gloom of blue shade
          and picking seeds
a softening pattern of graffiti
    on the palimpsest stomach of the bridge

names and stipulation-
hyperventilating hodgepodge of remembrance    
          speaking quiet languages
a collected ground
          tenacious spirit
timeless in the undulated blackness

chimps limbering about the caged casing-
          a rust iron skeleton

edges of eternity
          with the clause
          that an edge is not an end
          nor a barrier

the stars grew and withdrew
          blue highlights of cloud
          made love to the horizon

i became

the sun winked over miles
          and with feathery breath,
gradated color
          into nativity

i beheld grass growing from wood planks
          at the lip of conception

This was a very small and intricate work, so I got a perspective shot.  It's hard to make out all the detail in the scan, especially the tiny eyes throughout the sky I did with a .005 flesh-tone pen... 

UPDATE 12/07/10

I just found a blast from the past... I had forgotten all about it!  This illustration was composed using a reference photo I took of the bridge about ten years ago.  The drawing is from 2005...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wishing You and Yours a Bountiful Harvest...

Thanksgiving, as a North American tradition, is a festival historically held to celebrate the bringing in of the year's harvest.  Folks would gather friends, family and communities together to party down with their new-found riches.  They got to see their hard work rewarded and reaped with the bringing in of the season's crops.  Before our current economic system and before Black Friday, it was simply enough to memorialize and gather to enjoy the fact that people didn't have to worry about food for the Winter.
(represents a bountiful harvest)

Other than Canada, the United States is practically the only country which celebrates this historic holiday.   Unfortunately, our Lady Mistress Capitalism has distorted our celebration of the harvest.  She got into bed with Democracy about eighty years ago and it didn't take her long to kick Lady Liberty right into the floor so she could give us her solo act.  Like a timeless, enduring peepshow, we plug our money in the bottomless slot to keep the curtain up and the wheels turning.  We've switched gears as far as our perception of Thanksgiving over the past hundred years.  With grocery chain titans turning out food to our communities, there's less room for a feeling of reward and work paying off.  Sure we work for our money and the money brings home the bacon.  However, whether you buy the Kroger turkey or the Save-A-Lot turkey (based on your tax bracket,) you didn't have to catch the bird and lop it's head off in the back yard.  No gutting, feather plucking, picking and storing of crops, or any of the work which went behind the long awaited annual feast.  Don't get me wrong, the feast is still there and I'm by no means belittling the hours of kitchen time folks put in to feed their families.  I'm simply saying there is no harvest to memorialize.  Ironically, Mexico does not celebrate Turkey Day though their people are predominantly the ones doing the harvesting for us.

Yellow Corn Maiden
(represents a bountiful corn harvest)

 Every year, we do stop to smell the roses so to speak on Thanksgiving  (and make corporations a large chunk of their annual profits in one busy week.)  Today we "give thanks" to honor our national holiday.  It's important that we do hang onto this facet of our cultural event.  Don't confuse material thanks with the heart-felt kind though.  All this "giving thanks" starts one day and twelve hours later every-town America is absolutely insane and literally killing one another over mass-produced material goods that are on sale.  Experience true thankfulness today but I challenge you also to do so tomorrow as well. When you're standing outside the store waiting for the doors to open so you can make the mad dash to the deal of the century, remember they want you hysterical.  They want you running people down and fighting with each other.  They want a couple of people to get trampled to death- you won't hear about it until tomorrow and by next year, you'll have forgot.  They want it to be dangerous so you'll get the thrill and get the rush.  They knew how hard it was for you to stop just 24 hours before and forget about the rat race.  They know you want to run that last slice of pecan pie off.  They want you back because you didn't spend enough of their money in their stores while you were busy eating and thanking.

Pause again tomorrow and remember what's really important- life and love (and everyone's is richer than money and richer than the harvest itself.)  Pause again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

The best to your and yours these holidays,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Southern Culture Low-Brow Extravaganza II

This weekend, we're in for an unique mind-bending celebration of the South at the 2nd annual Southern Culture Lowbrow Extravaganza this Saturday. Fasten up your saddle and head on down to Charlie Bob's Drive-In on Dickerson Pike in Nashville around 6PM!

Last year, I had the pleasure, honor, and High Life-drunk rapture of attending first Southern Culture Low-Brow Extravaganza. This year should be even better with a broader line-up of southern low brow and pop surrealist artists including Dustin Dirt!, Chad Span, Michelle Duckworth, Erin Lord, Charles V. Bennett, Jeff Bertrand, David Pound, Amanda Grantham-Sekulow, Ash Burress, Brooke E., Melissa Brenner, Jonny Lashley, Mai Harris & Brittany Danielle Smith

This event was ushered into reality last year by a couple of gals listed above who wanted to create a show to celebrate all things southern. It went off famously with live music, live painting, cheap beer, and tons of sick amazing art as well as pulled pork courtesy of our hosts, Charlie Bob's, where we'll be returning this year for much much more of the same.  Here are some images from last year's show to give you a taste of what you're in for...
- The three works I displayed for the 2009 Southern Low-Brow Extravaganza -
Live Painting from the 2009 show

This one-of-a-kind event is F-R-E-E free so all we need from you is your can in a seat and your eyes wide open... feel free to wear overalls. No weapons allowed, but farm tools are welcomed.

Southern Culture Lowbrow Extravaganza II
Charlie Bob's Drive-In
1330 Dickerson Pike / Nashville TN

(Click for the Nashville Scene Plug)

Update 11/21/10

The exhibit last night was a full dose of some awesome pop surrealist and low-brow paintings and artwork from some of the best and wildest folks here in Tennessee. Much of this same group will be involved in VERSUS, which I will be curating at MIR Gallery in March 2011. Until then, if you missed the show last night, here's a few pics to wet your whistle...

The Barnstormers from Alabama tore up the house for us with original tunes and some great covers!

"Monkey's Worship"
2010 / inks on bristol

This was really the centerpiece of what I exhibited last night.  It was a fairly complicated piece for me as far as the sketch and composition of all the figures.  I was glad to get an audience this particular work as I had been anxious to show since making it several months back.

I exhibited three new illustrations from this year including "Southern Gothic" pictured to the right of my blog, which has been on view here for some time in it's tiny digital form. Nothing like seeing the real thing and if you aren't involved in your local arts scene, get out to an exhibit soon... you don't know what you're missing!

"Egg Fart"
inks on found card / 2008

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Year, Give the Gift of Art!

The madness of the holiday season is quickly closing in on us. I'm all stocked up on tons of goodies that need good homes and I'll be liquidating some of them to you dear viewer. You have a good chance to snag some unique gifts for your open-minded, third-eye-wide family and friends the next few weeks.

I've posted some of my limited edition prints back on Ebay this month. (Click here to view the listings!) All prints have a starting bid of 99 cents and will only be in auction for 7 days! Why? 'Tis the season baby! These bad boys usually go quick and I've shipped them all over the world, so get a gander today and keep an eye on the ones you're interested in. I'm also signing prints at your request... just notate when you PayPal if you want a personalized signature to the intended recipient of your gift. I can also ship their print directly to them with a gift notice from you- again, just drop me a message.

I also have copies of my Third Eye Book available still! There's only about five left so they won't be here for long. (Click here for a preview / Purchase info at the bottom of the page) Click the Buy Now button and you don't even have to elbow drop anyone in front of their children to get the last one.

The first printing of my Topsy-Turvy book is almost sold out as well. (Click here for a preview / Purchase info also at the bottom of the page) These books are the most original item I have. The book can be opened from either side of the cover for a new journey through the full-color works.

I've also got Christmas cards on order of my own design and will be getting them out to you guys soon. If you haven't already, drop me your snail mail address at to get on the list! If you are a fan or viewer, I owe you a card, don't be shy!

Merry Shopping and Happy Holidays from DREGstudios!

P.S. I also have in the neighborhood of 70 framed originals for sale. Email me to make arrangements for viewing. I'll let you dig through them and get a one of a kind gift for your lucky friend / family member!