DAILY ART FIX: My Encounter with Gwar, the Artist Collective That Brings Heavy Metal Fever Dreams to Life

A true story…

VIDEO: Trailer for GWAR Documentary Let There Be GWAR - Vannen, Inc.

Gwar: The Boys in the Band

In the 1990s, after I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, I stayed on in Richmond, Virginia. One of the city’s claims to fame at the time was Gwar-a metal band that mixed muppets, gore, and slapstick into a fake-blood soaked spectacle. I remember one show of theirs I attended where they must have put too much color into the various fluids they sprayed into the audience; even the hairs on my arm were dyed pink for days afterwards.

Gwar in Action

There came a point where Gwar was banned from performing in costume in their own hometown, due to the over-the-top grossness and silly obscenity of it all. They used to do local shows as Rawg, where they would perform the music without the theatrics.

At the time I was the chairman of the exhibition committee of Artspace, an artist-run cooperative gallery. I had a great idea: if Gwar can’t use their props and costumes in Richmond, what not put on an art show with them? I imagined national press attention, MTV coverage, and a spirited debate about free expression.

The Gwar guys didn’t act like rock stars. They were always just hanging around the local scene like anyone else. I was able to get an introduction pretty quickly. One afternoon I met up with singer Dave “Oderus Urungus” Brockie for a tour of Slave Pit Incorporated, the facility where they manufactured their elaborate outfits and gear. There were rubber body parts everywhere; I remember there was a big latex O J Simpson, who was very topical at the time. Brockie was gracious and supportive of the idea of an art show. It all would have made for a great exhibit.

Long story short, Artspace decided they couldn’t get insurance for an event like this. I think many of the gallery members were too intimated by the crassness as well. The idea was dropped, and Gwar continued to grow their international cult following.

Here is a relic of those times: a little rubber souvenir I found one day on the cobblestones of a Richmond alleyway:

Dave Brockie sadly passed away in 2014. However, the band continues to this day, as recently covered in Atlas Obscura:

The studio, as it looked on an average day in 2017.

Slave Pit Incorporated in 2017

This is the studio that creates custom costumes, sets, and stage props for two-time Grammy-nominated thrash metal band GWAR. The group’s costume- and FX-fueled live comedy-horror operas won international attention in the early 1990s and continue to disgust and delight audiences today. Concertgoers can expect things like huge, grotesque monsters raging amid fiery explosions, as band members dressed like satanic space-ogres shred on guitars with headstocks that spew fake blood.

The artists working here are responsible for bringing the show to life. They’re considered band members and work on everything from storylining albums and scripting stage productions to filming music videos and writing branded graphic novels. And sometimes they play monsters onstage. The team consists of two full-time artistic directors and a few dozen contract contributors. Most attended art school at nearby Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

Read the full article here: ATLAS OBSCURA – The Artist Collective That Brings Heavy Metal Fever Dreams to Life

Gwar - Wikipedia

Dave Brockie: RIP

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Video – The John Lurie’s Art

Art world links which caught my eye…

Examples of artist/musician/actor John Lurie‘s paintings.

Music John Lurie (Marvin Pontiac) – Power

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Video – Vincent Price Sings About Being an Artist

Art world links which caught my eye…

Actor Vincent Price (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993), known mostly for horror movies, was also an connoisseur of art. Price’s knowledge and appreciation of art were so renowned that when Sears wanted to launch a fine art department, he was brought in to run the effort, as I wrote about before: The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art.

In this video, Price displays some unexpected singing talent as he celebrates the magic of painting.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Empty Spaces -‘The Wall’ Artist Gerald Scarfe on Selling His Pink Floyd Archive

Art world links which caught my eye…

Pink Floyd: Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 (1979)

We Don’t Need No Education: From Gerald Scarfe’s Iconic Art for The Wall

Pink Floyd’s concept album The Wall is a case where the music is inseparable from the imagery on the gatefold record.

Artist Gerald Scarfe created a scratchy, distorted dystopia in illustration and animation to accompany the haunting songs of alienation, loss and power. In 2019, Scarfe decided to part with his collection of artwork for the album.

Working off the musical landscape and the backstory [Pink Floyd bassist Roger] Waters established, Scarfe — a political cartoonist by trade with a flair for darkly comic caricature — developed The Wall‘s iconic imagery and characters, a twisted menagerie that would keep the attention of concertgoers while Pink Floyd literally built a wall between themselves and the audience: the Marching Hammers, the boogeyman Teacher who feeds his dead-eyed children to the meat grinder, the anus-mouthed Judge and the main character Pink, an unformed human that Scarfe’s animation tosses around like a marionette dummy untethered from its strings. “We couldn’t just have a blank wall sitting there,” the artist said.

The Wall' at 40: Illustrator Gerald Scarfe Recalls Designing Pink Floyd's  Multimedia Masterpiece | PEOPLE.com

The Bleeding Heart and Artist Gerald Scarfe with His Creations

Read the full article here: ROLLING STONE – Empty Spaces -‘The Wall’ Artist Gerald Scarfe on Selling His Pink Floyd Archive

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: New Painting “A Ghost from a Wishing Well”

Richard Bledsoe “A Ghost from a Wishing Well” acrylic on canvas 16″ x 12″

Since my youth I’ve been haunted by a mysterious and beautiful song. I put those feelings onto a canvas.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Raw power – Why Iggy Pop posed naked for Jeremy Deller’s Life Class

Art world links which caught my eye…

Iggy by, from left, Taylor Schultek, Levan Songulashvili and Kallyiah Merilus on show at Brooklyn Museum.

Lust for Life Drawing! Iggy Pop Poses

In 2016, rock ‘n roll shaman Iggy Pop acted as a model for a special life drawing class and exhibit sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum.

Deller convinced the Brooklyn Museum, a group of local artists and Iggy himself to play along. The result, Iggy Pop Life Class, opens at the museum next month. The show involves 107 interpretations of the star’s nude physique by 22 artists, ranging in age from their teens to their 80s. The museum will pair their work with objects from its collection depicting the male figure over the last few centuries: sculptures from ancient Egypt, Africa and India; drawings by such artists as Egon Schiele and Max Beckmann; as well as photographs by Jim Steinhardt and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Deller, best known for creating vast imaginative works with a political theme, first approached Iggy 10 years ago, but the star demurred. “Ten years ago I was a little too young,” says Iggy, now 69, in the book that accompanies the show. “I thought I didn’t have the weight. Now I feel like a lot has happened with and to my body. For some reason, it felt important for me to just stand naked for a group of human beings and have an exchange.”

Iggy Pop poses for, from left, Jeremy Day, Patricia Hill, Jeannette Farrow and Danielle Rubin.

Read the full article here: THE GUARDIAN – Raw power – Why Iggy Pop posed naked for Jeremy Deller’s Life Class

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

**************

I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Video – Paul Simon “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War”

Art world links which caught my eye…

Amazon.com: Artist Rene Magritte Fine Art Poster Print of Painting The  Lovers CANVAS Print: Posters & Prints

Rene Magritte “The Lovers”

From the Wikipedia:

René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War” is a ballad written and sung by Paul Simon.

Simon told a story about being at Joan Baez’s home and waiting for her to get off the phone to rehearse. Simon pulled a book off her shelf of Magritte’s artwork and found a picture with the song title. It first appeared as the eighth track on Hearts and Bones, the 1983 album that was the sixth in Simon’s solo career.

This is the best version I could find of Paul Simon’s gently surreal and personal song. It’s a fantasy based on the domestic bliss of the great Surrealist artist Rene Magritte and his wife Georgette-who always served as the model for the ladies in his paintings.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

**************

I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Video – The Real Frida Kahlo

Art world links which caught my eye…

Self Portrait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo, 1943

Frida Kahlo “Self Portrait with Monkeys”

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is known for her painted self portraits, but there does not seem to be much filmed documentation of her. Here is a series of assembled clips of the woman herself, painting, strolling, and kissing her husband, the painter Diego Rivera. She had such a mischievous little face. Music by Café Tacvba.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

**************

I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Music Video-Pablo Picasso by the Modern Lovers

Art world links which caught my eye…

The protopunk classic released in 1976, recorded in in 1972 by Jonathan Richman and his band the Modern Lovers. This video features a retrospective of Picasso imagery to accompany the dry sarcasm.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

**************

I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED- Vintage Music Reviews Shriekback “Oil and Gold”

In 2010, I used to write a monthly column for a local punk zine, AZKAOS. “This is What Happened” was a series of reviews on older alternative albums. This was one of my 2010 contributions.

SHRIEKBACK OIL & GOLD vinyl record - Amazon.com Music

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED

Commentaries on Old Stuff

By Richard Bledsoe

SHRIEKBACK “Oil and Gold” Released on Island Records 1985

Going by the 20-year theory of cultural recycling, we should already be moving into the retro 90’s. Brace yourselves-soon enough, new bands will be featuring white boy funk metal, angry political hip-hop, and repetitive shoegaze-all clearing the way for a flannel tsunami of neo-grunge.

But in the meantime we continue to crawl through the treacherous alleyways of the 80s revival. So much musical went on in that decade, it makes sense it would take longer than the normal two-decade pattern to reabsorb it all. After the punk explosion of the late 70’s, the scene fragmented Tower of Babel style into dozens of genres, movements and sub-movements. Pre-internet, with little mainstream support or exposure, word of mouth and the exchange of cassette tapes (dubbed from vinyl) were the prime ways to keep track of the latest developments in the cultural landscape. For a time, the now obscure band Shriekback were big stars in this underground-they were a mix tape staple.

Shriekback had strong credentials. Bassist Dave Allen was from legendary post punk band Gang of Four. That group’s hard, jittery funk and strident social commentary carried on punk’s spirit of protest. Shriekback’s vocalist and keyboardist Barry Andrews was with XTC while they were still playing spastic, angular Elvis Costello-style pop. With the addition of guitarist Carl Marsh and a rotating cast of support musicians, Allen and Andrews went in the electronic dance music direction.

Oil and Gold was the splendor of their achievement; an intensely moody album, it swings from gospel chorus exuberance to whispering, depressive lullabies. It references many of the musical movements that were active at the time, with measures of Gothic foreboding, New Romantic artiness, Post Punk statacco, and slick New Wave drum machines and synthesizers.

The fast numbers feature Allen’s driving bass lines and Andrew’s shout/chant vocals, featuring complex, rather abstract lyrics. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” channels the Talking Heads while name-dropping Flannery O’Conner. “Hammerheads” is an ominous (but danceable) take on reactionary aggression. And “Nemesis” is the closet thing they ever had to a greatest hit. The guitar roars like prehistoric beast while a lyrical celebration of decadence unfolds:  “Love has no meaning, not where they come from/But we know pleasure/Is not that simple/very little fruit is forbidden/sometimes we wobble, sometimes we’re strong/But you know evil is an exact science/Being carefully correctly wrong.”

There is a profoundly pretentious and entertaining period music video for this song.

But is in the slower pieces that Shriekback really accomplishes its finest work. Spacey progressive passages that would not sound out of place on a Peter Gabriel record incorporate a sorrowful, beautiful atmosphere. Here Andrews is subduded, oozing melancholy over delicate passages of soft percussion and introspective, lilting melodies. The vocals are also sweetened by soulful female voices harmonizing. “Only Thing That Shines” is a cutter’s anthem, a paean to both the beloved and the razor. “Faded Flowers” is a rueful rumination on the end of road: “We had some good machines, but they don’t work no more/I loved you once, don’t love you anymore.” “Coelacanth” is an instrumental, haunted and dark as the ocean floor. And “This Big Hush” is an epic, an eerie, echoing dreamscape about the eternal conflict between fear and desire.

Director Michael Mann recognized the power of these last two works. He featured them prominently in the 1986 film Manhunter, the first of the Hannibal Lecter movies. Forget the poorly cast remake Red Dragon, which featured such ridiculous images as Ralph Fiennes as a ruggedly handsome serial killer, Edward Norton trying to act tough, and Anthony Hopkins taking a stab at being hip by wearing a tiny ponytail. Manhunter used towering freak Tom Noonan as the Tooth Fairy, Miami Vice style minimalist design and artful music video inspired cinematography. The two songs from Oil and Gold are incorporated into scenes as the monsterous murderer toys with redemption-“Coelacanth” when he arranges for a blind girl to caress the body of a sedated tiger, and later “This Big Hush” over a truly ambiguous love scene.

Oil and Gold is very much of its era-80’s synthpop with a dark undercurrent. But the intelligence, energy and strong song writing it incorporates makes it an album that has stood the test of time.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!