15 Photographs from Ed Ruscha and the Great American West

I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the press preview on Thursday for the new exhibition “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” which opens today and runs through October 9th at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Ed Ruscha has long been a hero of mine. With my own photography focusing on the American Road and my background growing up in Los Angeles, so much of Ruscha’s work has always rung true to me personally and I’ve felt a certain sort of affinity with it. Gas stations, neon signs, old swimming pools, and the images of a uniquely American experience, fill the current Ruscha exhibition. Mixed in with these beautiful, nostalgic and iconic images are the words that further explain this modern life: “Honey . . . . I Twisted Through More Damned Traffic to Get Here,” “God Knows Where,” “Slobberin Drunk at the Palomino” I remember back in high school or was it college once watching X, or maybe the Blasters or the Knitters perform back at North Hollywood’s Palomino, my memory is hazy and alcohol likely was involved.

“In 1956, at the age of 18, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma and drove a 1950 Ford sedan to Los Angeles, where he hoped to attend art school. His trip roughly followed the fabled Route 66 through the Southwest, which featured many of the sights—auto repair shops, billboards, and long stretches of roadway punctuated by telephone poles—that would provide him with artistic subjects for decades to come.” This may be all the inducement you need to read to get you to this show.

Here are 15 photographs that I took on Thursday at the new exhibit representing my own interpretation.


Every Building on the Sunset Strip

A Particular Kind of Heaven

Slobberin Drunk at the Palomino

Honey . . . . I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic to Get Here


Poolside, Series of Nine Photographs

God Knows Where

Burning Gas Station

Hollywood, 19698

La Brea, Sunset, Orange, De Longpre


Ed Ruscha

15 Photos from Ed Ruscha and the Great American West-9

Ed Ruscha and the Great American West Exhibition Store

Complete 15 photo set here, but everything usually looks better on Ello. 🙂

More Ruscha here.

More de Young Museum here.

Richard Prince on Appropriating “The Catcher in the Rye”

The Catcher in the Rye, by Richard Prince

In 2011, Richard Prince republished a 500 run first edition of the classic JD Salinger novel Catcher in the Rye, under his own name. The reproduction was identical in every way except the author’s name was swapped from J.D. Salinger to Richard Prince.

The production value of the book was astonishingly high, a perfect facsimile of the original, right down to the thick, creamy paper stock and classic typeface. The text on the dust jacket—replete with the same iconic line drawing of the angry red horse—began, “Anyone who has read Richard Prince’s New Yorker stories, particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esmé–with Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children.” It was a dead-ringer through and through —not a word was changed—with the exception that the following disclaimer was added to the colophon page: “This is an artwork by Richard Prince. Any similarity to a book is coincidental and not intended by the artist.” Most shockingly, the colophon concluded with: © Richard Prince.

After the publication Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon interviewed Prince.

Kim Gordon: But what about the change, putting your name on the J.D. Salinger…

Richard Prince: Well, oh. That’s just a favorite book. I’m aware of the implications. It’s kind of the Disneyland of book publishing. You don’t mess with images from Disney. You don’t near it. And Catcher in the Rye is also on lockdown; it’s almost become an institution, it’s very sacred. It’s very rare to get a great first-edition copy.

I reread the book. If you have a book in your collection, it has to be a well-written book. I don’t collect books just because other people collect them, and I’m not going to have books in my collection if I think it’s badly written. Unless it’s deliberately bad or it has to do with the culture. I love deliberately badly written books. But when I reread Catcher I realized how contemporary the writing was, and then I was talking, I had the idea of putting it out again. And I think the idea of republishing Catcher, my contribution to that book was simply—and I know this is going to sound terrible, or maybe it’s not—but I just wanted to double the price.

Kim Gordon: To make it have the value you think it ought to have?

Richard Prince: Yeah, I just wanted to make sure, if you were going to buy my Catcher in the Rye, you were going to have to pay twice as much as the one Barnes and Noble was selling from J.D. Salinger. I know that sounds really kind of shallow, and maybe that’s not the best way to contribute to something, but in the book collecting world you pay a premium for really collectible books. I thought, we charged, I think on the book flap it’s $62. There’s a certain kind of adolescent thinking there that I can’t seem to get away from. And I don’t know if I should get away from it, but I certainly acknowledge that it might not be the most interesting way to contribute to the making of that particular object, but I like the fact that the price is twice as much. And it’s enough.


Inspiring Video Interview With Street Photographer Joel Meyerowitz

A Short Video With Photographer Joel Meyerowitz

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz is one of the most successful living fine art photographers working in the world today. He recently exhibited a show titled “Retrospective” at the Hôtel des Arts, in France. This video was made of him by Institut für Kunstdokumentation when he was setting up that exhibit. It’s a short video and well worth checking out if you are interested in fine art or amazing street photography by one of the world’s greatest masters.

Watch the video on Vimeo here.

Eddie Colla “My Life” Opening on Thursday Night at Ma Velous Coffee and Wine Bar in San Francisco

If You Want to Achieve Greatness Stop Asking for Permission

Corporations spend ridiculous amounts of money putting their messages out there and I can go out and compete with that. I can put my commentary right next to them or over them. I can interrupt their conversation and change the subject. That’s very appealing to me. – Eddie Colla

I’m looking forward to checking out street artist Eddie Colla’s new mural at the Ma Velous Coffee and Wine Bar in San Francisco on Thursday Night. The opening for the new 50 foot mural (his largest to date) runs from 6pm to 10pm. Eddie recently did an interview with the Warholian about his work here. There are more details about the event on this Facebook page here. If you can make it I look forward to seeing you there.

You can see a set of images I’ve made of Eddie’s work here.

Blek le Rat & Above, White Walls Gallery

So Close I Can Almost Touch You BabyFamily ManSo Close I Can Almost Touch You Baby, Plate 2

Blek le Rat & Above
May 1 – June 5, 2010

White Walls Gallery
839 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
Open Tues – Sat 12PM – 7PM

“Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.”

“My stencils are a present, introducing people to the world of art, loaded with a political message. This movement is the democratisation of art: if the people cannot come to the gallery, we bring the gallery to the people!”
Blek le Rat

Back before there was Banksy, there was Blek le Rat. One of the earliest urban street artists, Blek le Rat is considered the godfather of stencil graffiti. The first artist to produce life sized stencils, Blek has been decorating the streets of Paris and the rest of the world for over two decades.

Fortunately for us here in San Francisco, Blek is currently showing his work at the White Walls Gallery on Larkin Street. I stopped by White Walls to check out his work and was impressed with a gallery full of interesting and politically provocative images.

Sharing a show with Blek is Above, a younger version of Blek, doing his own stencils in his own unique new way. Above started traditional graffiti of tagging freight trains in California in 1995 and then moved to Paris at the age of 19 where he started painting his trademark arrow (pointing above) all around the city. Since then Above has been consistently traveling around the world doing many large self-financed “tours” with each tour exploring a new medium or style of artworks.

Are You Still Coming Over LaterPlay That Funky Music Blek Boy

Anybody Know Anything About Getting Sponsorships For Large Scale Art Installations?

Anybody Know Anything About Getting Sponsorships For Large Scale Art Installations

So I’ve never shown my work in any sort of art show. I get asked by people to be in shows or am I doing shows, or stuff like that alot. I always sort of just say I’m not really ready to start doing shows or books or all that yet. I’ve only ever sold a couple of prints and those were only for charity auctions.

The truth of the matter is that in my own mind, how I visualize showing my work is really complicated. What I’ve wanted to do for a while is to build a large scale installation involving various simultaneous plasma or LCD screens doing slide shows of my photographs of neon signs.

I’ve probably got about 9,000 photographs of neon signs now from all over America and I envision a huge wall (the bigger the better) of flat panel screens, one after the other making a square or rectangle larger display. Each display would be the same size (40 inches or larger) and each would rotate through these 9,000 photos of neon signs at random. The result would be a fast moving chaotic installation centering on neon imagery.

I’ve never pursued this because it seems to me it would be enormously expensive to purchase or rent large numbers of plasma screens and the computers needed to run the slide shows. I figure each plasma would need it’s own computer or I’d need to hire someone to write a program that could use one computer linked to many displays to rotate the slideshows.

Anyways. While in Miami this week I had the good fortune of getting to meet Jim Winters of Bulldog neon. Jim is a hell of a nice guy and made me feel really at home. He showed me some amazing old signs that are in in his live/work loft (including the old animated dog racing sign from the Biscayne racetrack and a huge RAYCO sign). He also took a group of us out on his bus all over Miami showing us great signs and other Miami sites (he has an old special ed school bus that he uses for tours). Jim’s also a great photographer and keeps his photoblog here.

To make a long story short, Jim is involved in the arts community down in Miami and has access to some indoor/outdoor space to possibly show work this coming December during Miami’s Art Basel. This is one of the most prestigious art shows in the world. Jim contacted me about maybe doing something together. He could do some cool neon signs. I could do my plasma display idea, etc. He’s got access to some very visible great space down there.

So I’m looking to get my hands on a bunch of plasma displays and computers that I could borrow for one week during art basel. I don’t need to own them or anything, just use them for a week down in Miami to build this display to show down there.

I’m thinking I’d need a minimum of 12 screens and 12 computers, but really the more the better. 24 would be even better. I could certainly promote a corporate sponsor associated with financing this showing. It would be an amazing display and combined with Jim’s real neon signs could be an amazingly vibrant and well visited installation during this huge arts event.

I’ve never done anything like this before so I thought I’d blog about it and see if someone at some company, or someone who knew some company might be interested in underwriting an installation like this. Hopefully it would be the first of many large scale plasma photographic displays showin in the future. Maybe nothing will come of this, but I thought I’d throw it out there on the blog and see if anyone had any suggestions or advice.

The World Wide Wide Wide Wide Web

Turn It Up

The great thing about the web is that it makes publishing so simple and cheap that virtually anyone can do it. This allows even the most obscurest of content to find a home. It allows people to turn their own private little passions (whatever they are) into quality online magazines really.

Yesterday this guy published one of my photos of a painting that I took at the Art Institute of Chicago. I love how Flickr can become a resource for all of the obscurity that runs free on the web.

Who would have thought that there would be an entire site devoted to the works of the French painter William Adolphe Bouguereau?

Just imagine the possibilities of all of the content that will flourish in the next 20 years online. It’s this free passion-driven long-tail content that will continue to chip away at TV, movies, popular music, museums, print media and books as more and more of it comes available and as better and better tools are created to help us find whatever our itch is that needs to be scratched. What an exciting time to be an artist or publisher with an unprecedented historical opportunity to disseminate your work.

Shepherd Fairey Strikes Back, Counter Sues the Associated Press

Was the Iconic Shepherd Fairey Obama Hope Image Taken by Freelance Photographer Mannie Garcia?Last week I reported on the continuing controversy regarding Shepherd Fairey’s iconic image of President Barack Obama. The Associated Press had declared copyright over the image that Fairey used to make his HOPE image and now in a pre-emptive strike, Fairey has filed a lawsuit seeking to legally have his art declared as fair use.

From the NY Times:

“Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, including Anthony T. Falzone, the executive director of the Fair Use Project and a law lecturer at Stanford University, contend in the suit that Mr. Fairey used the photograph only as a reference and transformed it into a “stunning, abstracted and idealized visual image that created powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message” from that of the shot Mr. Garcia took.

The suit asks the judge to declare that Mr. Fairey’s work is protected under fair-use exceptions to copyright law, which allow limited use of copyrighted materials for purposes like criticism or comment.

“Fairey did not do anything wrong,” said Julie A. Ahrens, associate director of the Fair Use Project and another of Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, in a statement on Monday. “He should not have to put up with misguided threats from The A.P.” Paul Colford, a spokesman for The A.P., said on Monday that the agency was “disappointed by the surprise filing by Shepard Fairey and his company and by Mr. Fairey’s failure to recognize the rights of photographers in their works.” “

It will be interesting to watch how the courts rule on this one. Still in question as well is whether or not the A.P. even actually own copyright on the original image given that photographer Mannie Garcia took the image without any contract with A.P. and is not an employee or even a freelancer for A.P.