page 10 bear forest

“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.