It’s no secret that I’ve always been a strong supporter of local art events in Northamptonshire. As a result I will be showing my work in the 43rd Alderton Art Festival. The festival held over Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September as always will host an exhibition and sale of paintings. Furthermore, there are also craft stalls, beer tent and musical entertainment.
Set in the picturesque village of Alderton, South Northamptonshire, the festival will feature many high quality local artists. Above all this is a festival that is well supported with something for all art lovers. I will have some original paintings and prints on show for sale. Therefore, for Northamptonshire art lovers the festival is well worth a visit. So come along and have a look.
My latest oil painting portrait, and this time it’s Lou Reed, New York musician and founder member of the legendary Velvet Underground. Best known in the UK for ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KaWSOlASWcand the BBC charity single ‘Perfect Day’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y. Lou Reed was a big influence on Bowie as well as a few of the bands who came out of the 70s punk explosion. . He had a track record of drugs and alcohol abuse although cleaned himself up in later years. Irascible and an absolute pain for rock journalists, Lou sung a lot about New York and its misfits. His songs touched on no go subjects junkies, transvestites, rent boys, bisexuality and were often no holds barred and provocative.
I chose this image which was probably around 1974 as it sums up Reed at his peak. This was on the back of his success with ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in 1972. This was the Glam Rock period and Lou was all shades and leathers. He didn’t quite fit in with his British contemporaries (think Sweet, Slade, Glitter Band etc), being more street and savvy. Bowie (obviously), Roxy Music and Iggy Pop https://www.cordellgarfield.com/2018/08/21/iggy-pop-and-the-stooges-raw-power-1972-acrylic-painting/ were the closest to him in spirit at this time.
I really enjoyed painting this one, and it’s only a small oil painting (12 x 10). The pose is great, not sure if the two fingers were a deliberate set up but it works and fits Reed’s punk image. It really is a picture of its time, not long before punk/new wave hit the streets. For the painting aficionados out there I worked quickly, alla prima with a fairly limited palette.
Top Lou Reed song? Difficult to choose but here are some links to a small selection of some more well known tracks:
Littered with casualties, early deaths and drug misuse, for many of us that is the story of Rock and Roll. The recent litany of deaths – Bowie, Prince, George Michael and now Aretha Franklin got me thinking. I decided that a death could be sad and unfortunate (Curtis Mayfield), but could also be self inflicted (Brian Jones). But hold on, then there is Iggy Pop!
Iggy follows in the great Keith Richards’ tradition of cocking a snoot at the Grim Reaper. This acrylic painting I produced a while back is based on a series of photographs taken by Mick Rock in 1972. Iggy and his band The Stooges came over to the UK in 1972 to record the classic album Raw Power. Totally iconic and at a time when Iggy was living life to the excess, this image summed up the lot. The album a sort of punk/metal thrash was initially hampered by recording/remixing. CBS drafted in Bowie to remix it adding to its legendary status.
The ‘Godfather of Punk’ always seemed on a path to self-destruction. Consider the facts: excessive drugs and booze, self-mutilation and audience confrontation on stage and an offstage lifestyle of total squalor and degradation. Mental institutions and rehab became a feature of Iggy’s life, particularly in the 70s. Bowie finally got him out and was able to get him performing and recording again. This was just in time for the launch of punk rock, Iggy’s spiritual home.
There are many stories about the Ig, but a couple come to mind. In Detroit at the Stooges last gig in 1974 a gig full of bikers caused mayhem by constantly pelting the band with eggs. Iggy lost it and challenged the audience. The result? A 6 ft plus biker pummelled Iggy (Iggy is 5ft 1in)!
Another bizarre story is after a drug induced night of popping pills Iggy decided to eat a couple of beefburgers. Turning on the gas for the oven and bending down with the burgers he had a seizure with his head stuck in the oven. He couldn’t move and would have gassed himself if it wasn’t for the next-door neighbours smelling the gas. They broke into his house and dragged him out. If he had have died this would have appeared as a really odd Rock and Roll suicide. As Iggy later commented “what would they have made of the beefburgers?”
The game-changer for Iggy was probably Bowie recording China Girl and having a hit with it in 1983. Since this point Iggy’s career has had a more upward trajectory. Whether it’s commercial spin offs from the film Trainspotting, acting, radio work or the Stooges reunion. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. At 71 years old he is now an elder statesman with an almost national treasure status. He’s still worth checking out, his last album Post Pop Depression (2016) stands up pretty well.
It’s a roller-coaster story, but what of the music? Here is a list of some Iggy/Stooges songs with links in no particular order. Have a listen.
A recent gig to see David Byrne on his ‘American Utopia’ tour at the Birmingham Symphony Hall immediately reminded me of an earlier oil painting I made of the great man. I thought I’d give it an airing and revisit him and his old band, Talking Heads. This image was when he was lead singer with Talking Heads around 1979, and I just had to paint it. It was also about the time they released one of their finest albums ‘Fear of Music’.
On this tour, Byrne himself is in good form, more comfortable in his own skin than ever before. The show, Samuel Beckett minimalism meets London Palladium variety revue, has no drum kits, amps or PA system on view. The band 12 strong, barefooted and in matching suits move around the stage with their instruments strapped to their bodies. Backed by excellent lighting, heavily choreographed and with a quirky upbeat mood throughout, Byrne has deconstructed the modern live performance while at the same time embracing existing modes of stage performance. This is no small feat, and Byrne’s claim that this is his most ambitious tour feels spot on. Here’s a link to a snippet of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vlNvQkT_c8
This tour follows in the great tradition of David Byrne as art pop rocker, collaborating on films and in theatre. However, there is still the legacy of Talking Heads not only in some of the old songs performed. In the 1970s and 1980s Talking Heads were an intellectual art school dance band. They fused post punk, new wave, krautrock, afro, funk, and an avant-garde sensibility crossing over into pop. Lead singer David Byrne was an anxious, nervous, arty oddball, “borderline Asperger’s” by his own recent admission, but constantly looking to reinvent his music. They produced one of the finest and slightly left field rock concert films in recent history “Stop making sense” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKKgwuAoshA. Give it a look but stick with it.
Whatever your view on the band and their music, it worked and was quirky. Taking the mundane and suburban, Byrne used the classic artifices of juxtaposition and counterpoint in his lyrics to make a point or not. He continued this throughout his career with Talking Heads even when they became commercially successful. Citing life giving air as painful, taking happiness as something mundane or viewing the world from the point of view of a psychopath or urban guerrilla, his take on events was never obvious.
He’s back on tour in the UK in October and November. Enigmatic with a good back catalogue as well as new stuff, I’d recommend trying to catch him.