“Angel’s Flight” A stylized version of the view from our first house in Echo Park, CA – a hip, yet troubled area; the east Hollywood Hills. “Angel’s Flight” refers to the refurbished funicular railroad in downtown Los Angeles origianlly opened in 1901. The vampires having a barbeque symbolize the heavy and ubiquitous gang presence.
“Wandering Eye” This was an investigation into story telling—in this case the dynamic of a faltering relationship.
“Breakfast at the Roadhouse” Patrick’s Roadhouse was a greasy spoon across the street from our apartment at Will Rogers Beach. Supposedly co-owned by Arnold – pre Maria Shriver. Ted Danson would drive by and the staff would run out with a cup of coffee in the mornings. He had a permanent table in the corner with a dial up phone. The place was a madhouse on the weekend. Owner liked to highlight the craziness by singing in an opera style. I saw a huge flock of dolphins swimming up the coast line. We were body surfing one afternoon when I looked over and saw three dolphins surfing the same wave with us. Wonderful and intimidating.
“Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t” A story of two old guys hanging out. The locals. Evocative of the boardwalk at Venice beach – another heavy gang area. Me developing a visual language that felt real time… I was walking thru the main gallery at Cal Arts one afternoon during my first year there and I saw a small group of people around a couple of older gentlemen who were playing this great music. Turns out it was Benny Goodman giving an impromptu concert. His pal Mel Powell who was the founding dean of the music department for California Institute of the Arts had started his career as Benny Goodman’s arranger and pianist. I worked at a small animation company that produced commercials in London in the early 80’s that was located in the Soho neighborhood. The area was known for that and the porn industry – a strip club was across the street from the studio I worked at. My walk to work in the morning took me past a home for wayward women – at least that’s how it was described to me. One day a I heard shouting and then a woman burst out onto the sidewalk in what looked like a nightgown carrying a chaise lounge and a glass bottle of milk. She threw the chaise to the ground, plopped down on it causing the milk to splash up into the air and onto the sidewalk. The new morning sunlight made this crazy scene beautiful somehow. I was studying the saxophone at the time and would stay after work to work on some tunes – “All of Me” was my favorite. I would get thru the tunes and felt like I was just making a mess of it, but one night I’d just finished a session when I heard applause. It was the bouncer and a couple of patrons from the strip club across the street. Tabby’s smushed between the store window and the cheese display case – the happiest cat in the world.
“A View From Below”
A paranoid perspective.
I have a nice car so why don’t you #@$% me? From my Cal Arts days. I was infatuated with Picasso’s work. A fellow student who bathed only occasionally, and had a very heavy eastern European accent would say to female students in the elevator, “I have a nice car so we don’t you …” I was told that he said it too many times to the wrong people. They put a hatchet in his “nice” car (beat up MG), and put sugar in the tank. I heard him deliver his line to someone I knew after the alleged car incident. I never saw the car or heard anyone else talk about it.
“Palm Trees” Collection of Ken De La Rosa an Mark Kelley
“Red Boots” From a private collection
“Pas De Deux” A ballet. Collection of Ken De La Rosa and Mark Kelley
“Will Rogers State Beach” The beach we lived across from in our first apartment together and where I started my painting career. Illustrative of that area – Stallone’s girlfriend Brigid Nelson would sunbath there. I witnessed a telling, (and embarrassing for her) event: She had arrived on the sands with no one seemingly paying attention until she removed her beach cover revealing her enormous breasts in a tiny bikini. Every man on that beach – about 100 stood up and gave her a standing ovation. She ran off apparently humiliated. With everything she was creating in her life, she still had a shyness. The painting was also one of a two recurring dreams I was having at the time. The other; I’m at the ocean, I dip my toes in the water and cartoon sharks zip over to me. I barely get my toes out of the water.
“Le Parti Animules” From a private collection.
“Twenty Five” Self-portrait painted when I was that age. I had been working in the animation department of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. The evenings were for experimenting with different mediums – oils, charcoals pastels.
“Morning Market” While I was painting the morning market an out of control car plowed through the market and killed ten people. It was a year before I could get back to finishing the painting.
Collection of Kirstine Juhl Belongie and Serg Belongie