Drawing: Pencil on Paper.
Starting on March 12, 2016 and running through April 2, 2016, I will show two of my social realist drawings at "Mi Ciudad of Los Angeles," an exhibition at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, L.A. California.
Created in 1980, my drawings "Hollywood Blvd., We're Doomed" and "Hollywood Blvd., Punk Rules," portray the decaying urban landscape of Tinseltown in the late 1970s before it was transformed by waves of gentrification that began in the 1990s. My drawings describe a hidden history of Los Angeles that I lived as an active participant. With the Ave. 50 exhibit, these artworks will have been exhibited only twice since they were originally created.
"Hollywood Blvd., We're Doomed" was created with color pencil on paper. It is based upon sights I witnessed on the famous street as it became the nucleus for the punk rock movement on the West coast of the United States in the late 1970's. The Masque, the first underground punk club in California, opened its doors in 1977. It was located in a dark, dank, windowless basement on Cherokee Avenue, a tiny side street off of Hollywood Blvd. I frequented that den of iniquity, and through my art began to document and promote the dangerous subculture that incubated there.
While Hollywood boulevard is internationally renowned for its Grauman's Chinese Theater and the brass and terrazzo stars embedded in the sidewalks along the Hollywood "Walk of Fame," in the late 70's the street had fallen on serious hard times. Stores in the area had gone out of business, or turned to selling cheap kitsch to the tourists that never stopped flocking to the Mecca of the Hollywood dream machine. Instead of starlets, visitors were more likely to see drug dealers and their clients, male and female prostitutes, homeless indigents, and flamboyant transvestites. In that context, L.A.'s first punks found a home.
In the midst of the boulevard's regular population, a small army of colorful misfits hung around the Masque. We were enigmatic oddballs, inexplicable with spiky day-glow hair, bizarre clothes, "jewelry" of razor blades and safety pins, weird sunglasses and even weirder music.
In "We're Doomed," I portrayed drifters loitering on a bus bench graffitied with the names of L.A. punk bands like the Weirdos, X, Germs, Bags, Screamers, Fear, Mau Mau, and the Plugz. In real life the bus bench depicted in my drawing was around the corner from the Masque, and a nearby star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame was actually defaced with the nihilistic punk scrawl "we're doomed." It was a detail included in my dismal tableau, but also used to title the drawing.
My drawing displays words etched into the bus bench that read "we must bleed," the title of an apocalyptic song by the Germs. Not long after I finished my drawing in 1980, the 22-year-old frontman and songwriter of the Germs, Darby Crash, committed suicide with an intentional overdose of heroin. The Masque permanently closed its doors in 1979, but an uncontrollable movement had been unleashed.
Curated by esteemed L.A. painter Raoul De la Sota, the "Mi Ciudad of Los Angeles" exhibition features the works of eleven L.A. artists who with their works bear witness to the megalopolis that is the City of Los Angeles. The exhibit opens on Saturday, March 12, 2016, with an artist's reception from 7 pm to 10 pm. The exhibit will run through April 2, 2016. Avenue 50 Studio is located at 131 North Avenue 50, in Highland Park, CA 90042. www.avenue50studio.org
Keywords: portrait, punk, realism, Figurative Realism, Los Angeles, Social Realism, drawing