Monday, 28 April 2008

Marley's Mural, a pictorial history

The studio before

How do you paint two seven metre murals in a six metre studio? Start with buying the canvas and plonking it in there. So far so good.


The studio after

Then make a seven and a half metre drawing board that curves around the corner. This was the plan for Saturday last but didn't happen till today, Tuesday.
Tomorrow is for priming two seven metre pieces of canvas and getting on with the design work while waiting for primer to dry.
Have you heard the expression bout as much fun as watching paint dry?
Well watching and waiting for paint to dry is a reality of my life. Fabulous eh?

I just noticed that this post was headed by the date: Monday.
Well friends here in New Zealand the sun shines first and it is, for myself and my fellow kiwis, actually Tuesday. Night. 7. 20 pm.

That's an interesting thing about playing with computers: different time zones and different species of the English language and all the other languages too. Small world.

So if any of you good people living to the East or the West want a sneak preview on what, for instance, the coming Wednesday is feeling like before it arrives at your place well just gimme a tinkle about 4 hours from now and I'll duck outside and check it out for ya.
Be no sweat, always happy to help a mate out of a tight spot....

Friday, 25 April 2008

Marley's Mural


Marley has a music shop in Waihi, recently moved to a larger premises right on Waihi's main street, amongst the best cafe's and so on. Great location.
I like Marley's music shop. It's a great place to just be in and he has such a range of anything you may want in the music line. I am learning Spanish and have bought several CD's of Latin American music from him ( I am interested in travelling to Mecico and Chile)

Marley's new shop is in an old building with a very high stud. Above all the CD and album racks hang all the instruments, guitars of all kinds and violins banjos ukeleles etc. and above that is high bare wall running down both sides of the shop to the back.

I saw, and talked Marley into agreeing to buy, two canvases seven metres by twelve hundred covered with a rythmic montage of paintings of New Zealand musicians, all the paintings taken from my sketches of Muso's playing in pubs and cafes, of which I have many. Many.

The canvases will be simply stapled to the walls up there, one each side of the shop, and perhaps the edges covered with light wooden battens, not so much to frame them but to hide the edges and staples.

Now that I have finished and delivered my doll museum commission (see earlier post) Marley's mural is the current job.

It is Saturday morning and today I start this job, beginning with this written record of proceedings.

On Thursday Sandra came by to pick me up for company on her drive to Tauranga to Tanjis art shop and I rolled out my canvas stash and saw I had seven and a half metres so we called into Harvey's furnishing at Tauranga after we had spent up large at Tanjis and I bought another seven metres of canvas, sufficient now to do Marley's mural.

My next trick is to alter the studio to accommodate a seven metre painting on the wall. That will be today's first job after a shower and brekkie etc. Yes I am sitting here unwashed at the computer having a pre breakfast breakfast of coffee and cigarettes and Amy Winehouse live in Berlin is on the stereo. I'm happy....

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Americans in New Zealand

A collage by my son Sam


It's a local legend. American tourists are famous for it and I have heard it from two different people who have met Americans here in New Zealand and they pretend to be Canadians.

Dear me! That's kinda beating around the bush I reckon, obscuring one's origins like that.

Last Saturday night I went to Chambers restaurant. I was invited to a private party there in honour of Leah's birthday.
A pyjama party.
It's getting on into Autumn and the nights can be a little chilly when there isn't a warm Northerly blowing and I said to Leah "well actually I only wear..."and she interrupted me with "I don't want to know what everyone wears to bed..." and I thought ooh how assertive, do I detect a glimpse of anger and passion ? mmm how exciting but of course being the polite people pleaser that I am what I said was "when I was a kid I had a check dressing gown with a multi coloured tassled cord to tie it and flannel pyjamas and tartan slippers and my Dad had the same and on Sunday mornings at 7 I would sit on his knee in the lounge and listen to the children's requests on the radio..." and Leah said "yes that's the kind of thing, get into the spirit of it"

So I did get into the spirit and some beer too and a jolly good time was had by all and I met some interesting people there including Anne and Andrew who had opened a cafe in Waihi recently and Andrew said that they had some Americans in their cafe for dinner one evening and when he asked them where they were from one gentleman said very fast, all in one word and in obviously practiced fashion, "we're from Texas and we hate Bush"
O.K. buddy, too much information but I see where you're coming from.

Actually I was cynically grateful to Mr. Bush for ensuring supplies of fuel for my vehicles even if I gotta pay extra for it (wars cost money and we all gotta stump up and pay the cost of whatever the American public decides is best for the whole world) but I lost my drivers licence and walk and ride a bike now so I don't give a damn--
--except when I remember the wonderful Iranian and Iraqi movies and art I have seen and the literature, novels and short stories I have read from those countries and then I get a little annoyed.

But what would you? 'Tis the way of the world and America has great movies art and literature too.
don't they?

Friday, 18 April 2008

Savonarola's Chair



On Thursday I lost my drivers licence. Yes my long criminal career is over, I have been brought to justice at last and the full force of the law has been brought to bear, New Zealand is now a safer place thanks to the vigilance of the Police and the efficiency of the Justice Department...

Let my personal tragedy be a lesson to you dear reader: next time you are in your favourite bar enjoying some down time and you chance upon some playful and light, amusing pseudo philosophical conversation with warm hearted people enjoying just being well just don't! No No No don't do it! Don't give in to the temptation to linger longer on a hot sunny afternoon and have another beer and then another and yet another while flowing with the feeling of the futile and yet pleasantly companionable amusing wonder of this unfathomable life...

Ha! you will do exactly whatever you want to do won't you?

And I wouldn't have it any other way..

I chanced upon a friend while crossing the road from Woolworths with my flimsy plastic bag of fruit and milk on my walk back from the Courthouse and got my first ride home.
And you might think me churlish but I have to say that by the time I'd made Alison two coffees and a lunch of avocado and cherry tomato on toast and she's scabbed three cigarettes out of my tobacco stash (she's trying to give up..) I swear it would have been cheaper to get a taxi. Cyril charges $6 for a ride to or from town and often lets me off for five (he is a sweetie), well Alison is a sweetie too, shit ain't we all?

Friday I started the day by reading a book on Florence that my lovely wandering ex wife had left me on one of her sojourns back in New Zealand from wandering the world and I happened upon a photograph of Savonarola's chair.

Such a beautiful design Savonarola's chair and talk about bonfire of the vanities Trevor! How it is that Savonarola should encourage the good folk of Florence to burn all their lovely things while he himself sits in such a cleverly complicated yet subtly elegant chair is just..just.. just inspiring is what it is Yes! a painting of Savonarola's chair is in our future folks ( I say our because you will be seeing it displayed on this blog one fine day )
The curve of the frame/legs of Savonarola's chair is reminiscent of the curve of licking flames.
Inspiration!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Email to Sandra


Hey Sandra

I just looked at your visitor map. You are truly global, including Mexico and
South America and your stats are approaching 3000.

I hope we can still be friends now you've hit the big time.

Next time you are in New York attending an opening with your agent and minders I
wonder could you find the time to look at Nippon curios on 47th street?

It's the only place in the world you can buy a genuine 1960's New Zealand green
plastic tiki.
I would so like to have one if they are no more than $US400- each.

I hope that won't be too much trouble for you, I'd really appreciate it.

Last time I was at the dentists I got the chance to check out the National
Geographic photo article on you and your work again. God those photos are just
amazing aren't they? Yeah yeah I know you've probably heard that so many times
before from the hundreds of sycophants that seem to swarm around you and take
up all your time but you know dear the article on you in Women's Day that
mentioned your fan club didn't credit Barbara and myself for our part in
launching the fan club.

Well of course you had to help Barbie and me organize the spreadsheets and
database for the club back in the early days but the article didn't credit
Barbie and me with all our hard work and support on your behalf and Barbie is
so sensitive and I thought you would at least....you know the last time I saw Barbie
putting on that brave face it just broke my heart and I had to hide my tears....


O! Who can stay mad with you Sandra? I still remember the time you brought
Prince Charles and Yve St Laurent to visit your quaint old artist pal in little
old Waihi...a tad patronizing really but when Yve St Laurnents boyfriend
actually spat in my goldfish pond and Prince Charles hugged my Kauri tree -
well I'll never forget how proud I felt, this was truly the proudest moment of
my life and I owe this to you!
Just my luck the MI6 guys wouldn't let me take any photographs but once a nobody
always a nobody eh?

I guess it is just my destiny to walk with difficulty through the mud of my own
making but my way lit by the bright stellar radiance of your glory.

I am content

God Bless

John

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Art and Music




















































 In the 90's I spent much time in Auckland, an hours drive from my then home in Warkworth. I was pursuing fame and fortune as a mural painter and murals were much in fashion then as decoration for restaurants, cafes, and upmarket clothing stores.

Fashions change but I had a good time for a while and ample opportunity to explore my Irish heritage at the many Irish bars that sprang up at that time.

There was an Irish renaissance at the time and I embraced it with joy, for, although a common or garden New Zealander I was ill at ease as there had been for some time in this country a great racial debate as the Maori population increasingly demanded their rights and redress for historical wrongs forced on them by the Pakeha settlers in the 1800's

I have no Maori blood and was quite unnerved by this drama as I thought that, taken to it's logical limits, this drama would eventually see me disinherited from my birthplace and kicked out!

Now just because a young man from County Clare decided to make a better life for himself away from the famine that swept Ireland for twenty years after 1840, all of young Peter Mulvay's life in fact, and took ship to New Zealand in 1861, did this mean that I, Peter Mulvay's great grandson, because of my lack of Maori blood, had no right to be here?

This scary line of thought led me to discover that I too had a race and a blood and this was black Irish from the West coast of the Emerald Isle.
Yes, I came complete with the requisite green eyes, slightly olive skin and black hair of County Clare.
And the knowledge that I too had a racial heritage was a comfort to me and I no longer worried about being kicked out of my country of birth.

And I discovered Guinness and single malts and those Irish bars had live music every night of the week! yay!

And I would take a sketch book along to those Irish pubs and after enough Guinness to conquer my shyness I would practice and practice high speed drawing and learn how to draw a violinist's fingers in the middle of a solo, catch a singers soulful expression and etc.

The amount of booze I drank did get in the way of my mural painting business a wee bit but I have so many sketches of New Zealand musicians that I am about to put to good use as paintings.

My mission for this winter is to make paintings and prints of all those drawings and I feel they may just turn out o.k. because they all came from the heart and I have many musician friends whose talent and art I adore.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

R18 Art exhibition

The cradling of femininity

Who could resist an exhibition with that title? Not this kid thats for sure.

I got word of this from my artist pal Berys (great name eh? Welsh, boyo..) by email a few weeks ago. Berys is a mover and a shaker and got her clever fingers in many pies to do with the Waihi art scene and further afield and I guess she made the connection between Life drawing (naked people) and R18 themes and thought I might like to know about this up coming event.
Fair enough I guess, I'm just happy to have people think of me now and again.

So the R18 art exhibition is put on by the Empire art gallery in Cambridge, out in the Waikato, not far from the river city of Hamilton where I was recently going every Thursday with my friend Barbie to an etching class.
Not a big deal to swing by Cambridge on the way home from etching one Thursday and check it out.
No sooner said than done!
I decided that I would exhibit 3 paintings in this exhibition, at $10 entry fee apiece and 30% commission on sales. Fine with me.

The only problem was to find some works that fit the label, i.e. adult content.
I did the best I could but all the time thinking exposure, and maybe the R18 label would attract well heeled art lovers to the exhibition who might not otherwise attend.

Junkie logic I know but what the hell eh?

The image above is one exhibited at this exhibition, which opens next Saturday and runs for 2 weeks. No explanation needed there I reckon.
The other two paintings exhibited are on this blog, one is a blue portrait of a woman titled Sarah's Quilt that accompanies an earlier article and the other is a painting of two women posing on a settee titled two models that graces the bottom of this page.

I hope they find loving homes these three babies of mine and I could do with some money as the auld overdraft is reaching epic proportions.
Nobody's got enough money right? and I will never bore you with my financial situation, I don't really care about money but it's there in all our lives like housework and the weather...
Not going to the opening, too far away and there is always alcohol involved in these openings.

I will keep you posted as to how this exhibition goes.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Art History


Waihi 1912

This morning I emailed my blog address to a friend in the U.S., Andy Reurich. I told him he could also google my name to find the blog and when I finished emailing Andy I googled my name and mein gott there is a heap of stuff there on me including all contact details.

And if I was a wee bit worried about baring my soul on this blog it's like forget about it! I'm out there in the world whether I like it or not. Privacy? Shit, that's a last century ideal, a philosophical concept for academics to ponder on.

I realized I can be found as easily as my art heroes, an interesting thought..

And speaking of art heroes I am reminded of one in particular who inspired me at a time when I was riven with self doubt (don't you just love words like riven? the english language is so cool).

This was a New Zealand artist, a girl of about 11 years old who was on the tele making a bit of a splash with her wonderful colourful abstract paintings and the media person interviewing this young lady asked her who her favourite artist was and without hesitation the young artist said "Me!"
And I was immediately gripped with a strong and happy emotion and thought "YES!"
This young lady and myself were then added to my list( it's a bloody long list mate) of art heroes.

No, I am not that vain but being one of my own favourite artists is a great tool to keep my dander up and not fall prey to depression and self dought as I am wont to do.
Many times I will do a drawing, a portrait, that turns out pretty good and I will look at it and it is like looking in a mirror. I see myself in the drawing because it is in my style and looks so old and familiar as to be almost boring as in it looks like it has existed forever, or as long as I have lived and is an old and achingly familiar friend...

If you know what I mean, hope that makes sense.

Most of my favourite artists are giants in Art history unlike myself and the young lady I saw on tele who so inspired me and some of them are: Shiele, Toulouse-Latrec, Degas for drawing and Vincent, Goya and Rembrandt and the unknown master who painted the Villa of Mysteries mural on the outskirts of Pompei about 63AD for their ideals or suffering or ability to express the inexpressable. But there are so many, so many.
I like to think of art as the oldest profession in the world, dating from the stone age when bands or small tribes of people would have had a leader counseled by a shaman and an artist (perhaps the same person) to work the sympathetic magic necessary to survive in a place of danger and wonder.
Another hero of mine is Betty Edwards who wrote two great books on drawing that take us away from sympathetic magic and into the workings of our bi-cameral minds. If you are at all interested in drawing read Betty.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Art virus


Busy day yesterday, Thursday. I got back to Waihi from the printmaking course in Hamilton about three and dropped by the Waihi College office to fill out forms to enable me to get paid for the Life drawing course I run there on Wednesday nights. Then on to the Post Office to mail off some money to the dear old Tax department that Valda, my accountant says must be paid by Monday.

Been up since six as the printmaking course is an early start and more than an hours drive away across the drought stricken Hauraki plains. Every Thursday for eight weeks there and back across the plains with my artist pal Barbara and watching the farmers fields slowly start to turn green again after the hottest, driest Summer for yonks.
That was the last day of the printmaking course, I learned a lot and got some good work done but glad now to have a break from that long commute.

So it's four o'clock and I've heaps more work to do starting at fiveish and I'm now thinking how nice it would be to be sitting at a table outside the Sterling Tavern watching the passing parade on Waihi's main street and sipping on a pint of Guinness.

It's a spiritual world we all live in friend, a paradoxical place where we all exist in dimensionally and temporally limited finite material form. Growing, changing and eventually decaying and dying, but all of us endowed with limitless infinite imagination! O yes! Be careful what you wish for because all our dreams, good or bad, if we hold them dear, will come true pal, sure as eggs are eggs..

And it seems like no time at all till my pleasant wee dream of sitting outside the Sterling with a pint of Guinness is an actual reality that I am experiencing! Miracles! Every day miracles happen to us! Just imagine something and the bountiful universe makes it so! Just master fear and my what a strange and wonderful place we exist in!
I must admit I sometimes have a bit of trouble with letting go of fear and there are people, especially those involved in the media, politics and finance who seem to take a perverse delight in promoting fear amongst their fellow human beings.
Perhaps these sort of people are in the grip of fear themselves and are desperate to manipulate their environment and the people around them to ensure their own power and comfort.
All I can say to that is ignorance is bliss you stupid, blinded by your own intelligence, egotistical, idiots..

Meanwhile there I am living my latest wee dream, sitting outside the Sterling with a pint of Guinness, the sun comes out and a trio of hard working gold miners come out for a beer and a cigarette at the tables outside and we get into a discussion about the difference between the tent of the sky above us and the temple of the sky above us.
I can see that I am going to have to ask Denise for another pint of Guinness if I am going to make any sense of this conversation and before long we are all pals and do the handshake and intro thing and what do you do John?
Artist Dion
Hey you the guy painted the mural by the memorial hall?
Yeah that's me Jimmy
So Jimmy's got a house bus that needs a mural on it and I give him my card.
Jimmy's got a dream of a mural and I have a permanently running dream of making other peoples mural dreams become reality so there we are together discussing this....another day, another miracle....
As Warren Beatty says to Faye Dunaway in the movie Bonnie and Clyde when he is telling her how he was released from prison the same week he cut off his toe to get off work detail:

"Ain't life grand?"

Two pints of Guinness down the hatch and it's time to get back to work.
Home I go and start taking paintings off the wall, into the back off the wagon they go along with a ladder and hammer and my picture hanging gear and off we go to see Leah and the ladies at Chambers restaurant and spend the next few hours rearranging the displays of paintings that decorate Leah's restaurant. Leah is a friend of all local artists and musicians. She and her husband Kevin are from the South Island and friendly- as people as most Mainlanders are.
They live across the road from me and are trying to sell their lovely house because it has limited garaging and they have four vehicles but I hope it doesn't sell because they are good neighbours.

I get home from my busy day at 8.30 to find two missed calls on my cellphone from Sandra, and one text, as follows:

"Today i got a comment on blog saying click here. Checked it out on net & it could lead to virus site.
Best to have comment settings on word verification to avoid auto comment programmes. Can u tell barbara & let me know if u don't know what to do."

So I ring Sandra, my computer whiz artist mate, and she fills me in on this almost interesting phenomenom and she tells me her latest.

I ring Barbara and tell her about this possible art virus thing and she tells me that she got a comment on her blog from some guy in India with the click here thingy and she clicked it and now there is something there that she cannot delete.

Hmmm. An opportunity for fear to upset our three art bloggers peace of mind?
Maybe. Maybe not. I'm goin for maybe not myself.

First Friday of every month is music night at Chambers restaurant and about thirty local muso's take turns to entertain and Sandra and I go to draw the musicians and enjoy the scene.
I will be seeing Sandra there tonight and can update her as to Barbara's situation so Sandra can arrange to open Barbies blog and clean it up for her.

Art virus? What sort of person would bother to do something like that?

Ignorance is bliss I reckon.