Saturday, July 24, 2010

Aldous Huxley Rolls in His Grave

Monday will mark what would have been Aldous Huxley's birthday (well... his like 114th). Huxley explored the boundaries of fiction and nonfiction alike over his amazing and proficient career. Huxley was a scientist but when a condition in his early twenties left him blind for a few years, he turned to writing. Huxley infamously penned Brave New World in 1932, which is what's really always blown my mind since I read it as a teenager. This book which deals with a controlled society and pharmaceuticals and book banning, was sooooo far ahead of it's time.

For my Cult of Personality exhibit at MIR Gallery in Nashville this past December, I illustrated some of my favorite authors. Huxley of course made the cut. Many of the elements of this illustration center around the visionary side of Huxley's work (via the use of mescaline.) The central theme, however, is the concept of him rolling in his grave at his prophesies (really urgent warnings in the form of fiction) taking hold of our world today. Behavior-altering medications are common-place and many societies are facing constant stifling of their freedoms of speech and expression (even in the U.S., there is now twittercide where people are losing their jobs based on tweets they made or blogs they wrote on their own time.) Huxley was one of the most unique voices and minds of the past century. He brought to the forefront of the arts world many issues which effect us today including mood-controlling mediation, the role of government in spiritual freedom, and our cognitive liberties.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My newest book THE THIRD EYE

Back in April, I wrote to you about my works centering around The Third Eye (the mind's eye).

When I was writing that blog, I ran through my works involving this subject and found many more pertaining to the theme of the 3rd Eye than I anticipated revisiting. I made a neat thumb collage of some of these illustrations to appease my creative juices for the blog's sake. Then a funny thing happened- the idea ran wild in my brain for a few weeks until I had THE THIRD EYE book designed (and now available for you!)

works from Brandt Hardin (2004-2010)
24 FULL COLOR works of art in 40 page volume!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In Memoriam: Joey Holmes

My friend, Joel Ray, recently commissioned a portrait of his uncle, Joey Holmes, who passed recently. Joey rode a Harley and lived a fast life. He found religion in the latter portion of his life and was known to preach from his bike and council young people about religion and Christianity.

Joel told me that his uncle was often inspired by the three crosses you see on the sides of highways scattered about the south. Upon researching these crosses for the illustration, I found that Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer actually raises these sets of crosses. Crosses of Mercy - Cast Thy Bread, Inc was the non-profit organization which spent a whopping $3,000,000 putting up crosses in 29 states, Zambia, and The Philipines. Caffindaffer supervised the erection of 1864 crosses between 1984-1993, a short nine years. There is no limit to what a man can accomplish with his will (and money). From humble beginnings as an orphan, the Reverend graduated high school at 14 and went on to get a degree and spend six years in the Marines before running a coal washing business which funded much of his non-profit efforts.

Spirituality is a powerful thing. It can show a man a light within himself to accomplish anything. Man has built monuments, raised crosses, taken to the streets and raged wars for decades in the name of their God. Joey hopped on his bike and spoke from his heart and touched many of the people of his community.

This portrait is for Joel's mom (Joey's sister). Happy Birthday!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Declaration of Tears / Trail of Independence

In the autumn of 2006, I had taken a job in Hopkinsville, a very small town in Southern Kentucky which lies along the route of The Trail of Tears. There's the National Trail of Tears Motor Route and Trail of Tears Park... kinda freaky stuff. As I walked and drove around the first few months in town, I kept getting visuals of blood-soaked soil under the asphalt and sidewalks and buildings. The typical modes of "memorializing" such a sad and terrible incident in human history (classic genocide) kinda put my head in a spin. At the time, I was trying to be very active politically and I wanted to memorialize the Native American culture in a way that didn't "use" them for a lack of a better term. I didn't want to represent them in a work for my OWN agendas or opinions (which even I'll admit are often extreme).

The Bush years really took their tole on me as a young politically-minded person. Bush is kinda like our Nixon, just a very very dumbed down version with a few false flag operations going on under his nose. A good friend of ours, Debbie Bohen, held candle-light vigils locally in Clarksville, TN (bordering Ft. Campbell, KY home of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army) every week for years during the (ongoing) U.S. invasion of Iraq. Debbie's bravery has always touched me from the moment I met her (thanks to an art exhibit I curated with Miranda Herrick at Alter Gallery). Debbie had these huge hand-made displays which tallied the numbers of Iraqi Citizens and American Troops wounded and killed which were updated every time you saw her. We put this display outside a few art exhibits around the time... and I have to say it makes your palms sweat to stand next to them in a military town with yellow ribbons on every other SUV and truck barreling down University Ave right past you. That summer before I moved to Hopkinsville, Debbie was handing out pocket-sized copies of the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights at one of our political exhibits, We the People, at The Icehouse Cafe. We had a voter registration drive that day with Chris Lugo, the Green Party candidate addressing the audience. Looking back, it was one of the best exhibits I've curated.

Some months later, moved into a new (new to me... verrrrrrry old in reality) house in Hoptown, I was at the drawing table and running through my head what to process onto paper. My wandering mind took my nose into that pocket-sized Declaration of Independence. I read a few pages and began getting visuals again. Like a bolt of lightning (that's how all the good ideas come), the idea came to me to memorialize the Native American culture by drawing inspiration from their art! A few weeks later after a few trips to the library, I had researched much of the Native arts including Kachina dolls, masks, and totem poles. These works translated onto the pages of my copy of the Declaration of Independence. All the works are very small (pages are around five inches tall). I used purple ink for my outlines to avoid interfering with or destroying original text on the pages.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Filling the Nail...

I've been a Stephen King fan and avid reader for as long as I can remember. I picked up the Dark Tower series in the 7th grade, my Sophomore English teacher in high school didn't believe I read IT for my book report because it was 1100 pages long, and I ended up writing my final essay on him my Junior year. I was at the bookstore the day the last Dark Tower book came out and read it more slowly and patiently than any other book in my life, savoring every scene. And if you are a constant reader of his, you'll understand my glee in the manner the Crimson King was "erased." (And of course, now Marvel has me hooked on these gorgeous hardcovers they're putting out of The Dark Tower comics.)

In King's On Writing, he mentioned a nail he kept in the wall next to his typewriter, which he posted rejection letters. After a couple of years, he had to replace the nail with a spike. I've had a nail next to my drawing table for just over two years now. I guess I need to start looking for a spike...