Tag Archives: Artists

The Blarg No. 92: J. Gonzo

I’m waiting to be seated so that I can order some pancakes and more coffee. The reason for this is that I’m having my windshield replaced, and it’s in Scottsdale, and it made more sense to walk and get pancakes than it did to have Janell drive us the 20 minutes home, wait for an hour, and then drive the 20 minutes back. It’s irritating, I haven’t even had this car for a month, and already it’s costing me more money. This is when I wish I lived in a city that has a great public transit system, or where I could walk to everything, or that I worked from home. On the one hand, I love the freedom of being able to just hop in the car and go wherever; on the other, I would give up owning a car in a second. It’s such a headache! And if I really want to go somewhere, I can rent a car.

Anyway, pancakes sounded like a good idea, so here we are.

When last I blarged (how pretentious does that sound?), the Arizona senate race was still undecided. I’m happy to say that the state I call home, for lack of a better word, finally has a Democratic representative. I’m not so happy that it’s the problematically centrist Sinema, but what are you gonna do? It’s still Arizona.

Not too long ago, I had the immense pleasure or seeing Marc Maron at StandUp Live in Phoenix, and leading up to that, there was a Tweet posted by a local artist who’d created a poster to commemorate the occasion, which Maron re-tweeted saying something along the lines of, Let’s make this happen, which I was excited about, because it seems like everywhere else Maron performs gets a cool poster, but last time he played Phoenix, nothin’. I loved the poster, and purchased one the night one the night of the show, and was like, it’s been a while since I’ve had an artist on the show, I should check this guy out.

It turns out it’s a super small world, and even though J. and I had never met prior to recording the podcast, we have a ton of people in common—my buddy Ernie is friends with John Derrick West who’s friends with J.; J. is friends with and has worked with Alex Empty who’s the husband of my friend (and previous LE guest) Leah Newsom; and just the day before, I got my copy of Tapestry Comics’ A Flower in a Field of Lions with the limited edition alternate cover, and I noticed that it was done by…J. Gonzo. Like I said, small world.

A lot of you who listen to this show are artists, writers, musicians, creative types, and you, like me, are trying to figure out how to make a living with your art, and this conversation with J. is a great resource. He’s someone who has worked hard to make a sustainable living doing what he loves, and he’s done it. He’s worked for big design firms and Todd McFarlane’s company, and most people would be satisfied with that, but he’s gone on to create his own graphic design business and made a name for himself as an independent comic book creator with his series, La Mano del Destino. Along the way, he’s done work as a tattoo artist, done freelance work, worked the convention circuit, and at the end of the day, even though it’s a shit ton of hard work, he gets to say that he makes a living doing what he loves.

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I know that’s a tough time for a lot of us. I hope you enjoy the time off, if not the holiday itself. If you’re unfortunate enough to work in retail, I feel for you. I did that for a long time. It was miserable.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 92 – J. Gonzo

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The Blarg No. 82: Estrella Payton

Some fifty year old satire bearing a strange relevance in modern times, that’s one thing. That same satire bearing a strange relevance AND acting as a harbinger of events to come within the small matter of a couple of days? That’s just fucking nuts, but such was the case just this past weekend.

You may recall in the previous edition of this podcast my mentioning a then upcoming screening Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the film satirizes Cold War tensions between Russia and the United States, and prominently features a very subdued, cordial, casual, perhaps overly friendly and un-statesmanlike manner. Pure farce, right? I mean, with the arms race and everything, the overarching story was more than plausible, but the absurdity was pretty far fetched.

Then the “summit” between Putin and Trump in Helsinki happened, and well, the whole fucking thing seems pretty closely fetched after that, right? That thing was a ball returned, thrown out into wilds, returned again, and…you get the idea. What the everloving fuck? Kubrick would look at everything going on right now and throw in the towel.

Now, I say this next bit knowing that I will vote my conscience in November, with the notion that enough other people will do the same, and some sort of change can happen, or at the very least someone might apply a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood currently gushing from the gaping wound that not only sidelined this country in terms of humanistic progress, but sent it backwards. The thing is, I don’t have a whole lot of hope. There’s a large percentage, or at least a very overbearing, vocal percentage of the population that has shown itself to be bigoted, small-minded, short-sighted, mean, and angry as fuck. There’s a lot of opposition, but it’s going to take more than rhetoric, it’s going to take mobilization—getting progressives to the polls. Not just the major races, either. I’m saying we need people with progressive ideology, or at the very least a sense of decency, to read through propositions, research candidates for committees, dig into the decisions of judicial candidates, because it’s the local races that are really going to make the difference. The senate and house are so hopelessly bought, paid for, and spineless. Local politics and policy are where we can make a difference and turn the nationalist, fascist tide.

And let’s make art that speaks to and against this jingoistic bullshit, shall we?

On this edition of Limited Engagement, artist Estrella Payton discusses her work, her acclimation to Phoenix, what it means to be “decidedly Midwestern,” community engagement through the arts, and how she strives to bring art to neighborhoods without the privilege of access through her role as Communications and Community Engagement Manager at the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. Estrella’s art is a visceral, endlessly fascinating exploration of the human condition and way we interact within the environs of the structure we impose on ourselves—both personally and inter-personally. You can view Estrella’s work on her website, as well as in-person this November as part of duo exhibition at Cochise College.You can view Estrella’s work on her website, as well as in-person this November as part of a duo exhibition at Cochise College.

Listen to LE 82 – Estrella Payton

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 59: Lisa Olson

This is a first: I’m writing The Blarg days ahead of time. I usually do all this stuff on the weekend/just before I post the show on Sunday night. However, this weekend, we’re leaving Friday night to table/promote Limited Engagement for the first time at the Las Vegas Book Festival on Saturday. We’re at the table with a bunch of friends, so it should be fun. Then, on Sunday, we’re over at PHX Zine Fest. I’ve pretty much been going non-stop, and I’m really tired. Since I’m pre-writing this, let’s say that everything was a smashing success, and everything is awesome.

Brief little anecdote, roughly a week apart, we went to two very different concerts. The first, Billy Bragg over at the Crescent Ballroom, was fucking awesome. Despite the fact that he’d lost his voice (and sold out of t-shirts) in California, Mr. Bragg, sans opener, put on a two hour show with nothing but four cups of tea, two guitars, and some of the most natural, entertaining banter. Plus, he was armed with a brace of amazing songs that weren’t even a little bit ruined by a dismissive remark about podcasters. If you don’t know who Billy Bragg is, or it’s been a while since you’ve listened to his music, you owe it to yourself to go have a listen—he’s exactly the sort of singer-songwriter we need right now, and he’s been the kind of songwriter we need for more than thirty years.

The second show was not even one we were planning to go to, and that was Dinosaur Jr. They’re a great band, J. Mascis is an amazing guitarist, but to be honest, I’m much more of a Lou Barlow fan. Sebadoh is one of my favorite bands, and Lou’s solo work—Emoh in particular—is awesome, so I went ahead and reached out to Lou to see if he’d be interested in doing the show, and he said sure, so Janell and I went down to the Van Buren and Lou and I chatted for about an hour or so. Then he asked if we were going to the show, I said we didn’t get tickets (I left out the part about how it was because I needed some sleep), and he asked if we wanted to be put on the guest list. How do you say no to that? So we saw Dinosaur Jr., and they were great, but they were really loud—to the point where I wished I had earplugs, and I felt super old. I’d like to highlight, though, that the whole experience was amazing, and I never thought I’d be at a point in life where I get to sit and chat to my musical idols and get put on guest lists.

Lisa Olson is a really cool person, and she runs this really cool place called Practical Art, a retail space and gallery that features the work of 150+ local artists (and the only store that carries our book, The Arg in Blarg). She’s also a photographer, and you can check out her work here. We recorded in the shop, so you’ll notice a few pauses here and there for customer traffic, some background music, and a point around the 30 min mark where I apparently forgot how to put words together. That last bit has nothing to do with where the recording was done, it’s apparently just a special gift I have.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 59 – Lisa Olson

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