y*

Kushstone Gallery

 

Artist's background

 

I'm making up for lost time in art world recognition so you'll have to excuse me while I shamelessly brag about the Psychedelic Art Movement and my part in it: Amorphous as it was and with few formal outlets except comic books, art galleries and collectors going with Pop Art instead, psychedelic art was blazing a new trail across the intellectual art world in the turbulent '60's and '70's. A whole new art realm was opened up with psychedelic drugs, a realm that to those of us fortunate to see it was absolutely astounding, the PLACE where colors come from for example, they make the ones we normally dull and faded, even the "bright ones". And the endless variety of forms, an astonishing place within the human mind that holds so much potential, there literally is no end to psychedelic visions, they come in all visual forms, they cross time, they cross cultures, mine are just a small child's doodling unable to show what I've seen as mentally produced visions.

Since dropping out of a career as an artist I've shied away from promoting either my art work or my spiritual missionary work in order not to clutter my social change and environmental activist projects with focus on spiritual me instead of community organizing. Consequently while I've produced files boxes full of new Christian theology, the same for visionary new community models plus worked for many years as a activist organizer, I haven't produced much artwork at all since 1975 and even then I already had three years of commune organizing and communal life experience under my belt. But as the Soviet model showed to us artists who were paying attention, communism was hostile to any form of art that wasn't dedicated to the Cause of proletarian revolution. Our commune, different from most others in that it was dedicated to social change organizing and communitarian activist outreach and we worked! long hours, still, we weren't any different in our commune's hostility to individualistic artistic expression. Dedication to community came first. Individual artistic expression a secondary consideration if considered at all. Through my communal "learning experiences" as life mistakes are euphemistically called, I've become convinced only freer communitarian social organizing works; not communalism, not communism applied in mass form. But in any event, my art career languished through the decades I dedicated to communitarian organizing, and environmental protection, tribal land acquisition, with occasional spurts here into entrepreneur business ventures trying to develop some of my inventions.

Disgusted with America for its unjust war against the Vietnamese people and equally disgusted with the whole art gallery scene catering to money instead of art itself, by 1968 I had dropped out of the world of art to save the world. I devoted decades to volunteer community organizing work to helping others in need. Working directly with, often living with tribal people I managed to gain the trust of two Native American tribes, enough so as to be able to work directly with their leaders and tribal councils on the very worthwhile project of ancestral land recovery that I had first brought to them in 1995. But before dropping out of the art world I was and still am a master at psychedelic art. It gets worse. In my allusions to grandeur I actually think I can give da Vinci competition in inventiveness but you'll have to judge that for yourself from what you will see in the Divine Design section. So where do I fit in when you add my religious visions, ones powerful enough to spiritually affect hundreds of believers in one of Christianity's most holy cities, Nazareth, Israel, with no end in sight for this radical Celestial Christian movement that steps into the void of European Christianity (= Pauline Christianity formulated first in Rome, then in Wittenberg and Geneva) facing its End Times. Then there is the Josephine Vision that generated the Josephine Bundle and has its Northern Cheyenne family as Keepers in the White Buffalo Calf Woman tradition. I'm a visionary artist unlike any artist in history that I know of, I mean, sure, you've got the great old masters who made great religious paintings and statues but were any of them founders of a revolutionary new Christian theology or were any of them a prophesy bearer or a creator of a spiritual icon that was recognized as holy because it "speaks" for God? It does make me wonder why nobody knows about my artwork even though my best painting was personally selected by the Curator of San Francisco's most prestigious art gallery, the De Young Museum, to go into the 1975 San Francisco Rainbow Show, a multi-gallery event. The painting, Ariel Lome, was shown in the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, never sold, was damaged in a fall one year, and now is set to re-launch my art career as a new work, Ariel Salome. Will update news of that when the painting is completed.

One of the reasons you've never heard of me as an artist is because the world of art - gallery owners, art news, art historians and art collectors - in large part ignored or shunned Psychedelic Art at the time it opened up an extraordinary new visual world of art as part of the cultural revolution of the Sixties and Seventies. Why? Because these people didn't want to be associated with illegal hallucinatory mind-altering drugs. Hard drugs, cocaine, heroine, meth, these were ok in upper echelon back rooms and private parties of the Art World obsessing on Pop Art, the dull makeover of original DADA art ideas. And in this way the Psychedelic Art Movement became the only major art movement in history to be virtually squashed and unrecognized by the official "art world". Pop Art was given extra innings to cover over the Psychedelic Art Movement although in reality the Pop Art world was filled with hard drugs and druggies. But they were so "cool" and society gives a pass to the drug behavior of stars and musicians which Pop artists seemed to wish to be. Still, I do remember working side by side with a former Fillmore Poster artist on the kitchen line of a resort hotel some fifteen years later because both of us found we could not sell our psychedelic art above minimum wages in our time spent in producing it. One hopes that will all change now that cannabis is finally becoming legal in most places and psychedelics are getting good medical press.

Like most people my life has been mostly economic survival oriented and in the times when I could devote energy to other things in the choice between working for social change or pursuing my artistic career, social change has consistently won out. Therefore, I haven't produced a lot of art work. Although I have done several representational paintings most of my artwork fits into the "psychedelic" art category which I naturally fell into during the 1960's. Actually, my "psychedelic" art started back in the 1950's when I was a kid drawing designs and cartoons like other artistic kids. The "psychedelic-izing" of names and numbers was being done as graffiti and doodles in the 1950's by some of us kids, mostly Latino ones in my Southern California childhood experience, who had no idea that the 1960's psychedelic revolution would bring our designs and doodles into the nation's consciousness.

 

Psychedelic Art - - the importance of the opening of the timeless, cross-cultural mental world of art that psychedelic chemistry released, is still essentially lost to Art History

 

The art world passed up the psychedelic art movement at the time it was happening coinciding with the Counterculture generation of the '60's and '70's because of the illegal drug association with psychedelic art. The psychedelic art movement was never given the public exposure that Pop Art received. Later, "visionary" art was accepted into galleries, having cleaned up the psychedelic stigma, but psychedelic art was and still is a unique phenomenon in the world of art. Psychedelic art reflected real visions seen in altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic art connected modern Western Civilization art with art and designs seen in thousands of ancient Oriental religious paintings and sculptures as well as Pre-Colombian New World art motifs. The connection is deep in the subconscious of the human mind.

Psychedelic visions are incredibly powerful. As an artist with a fair knowledge of art produced around the world, I can honestly say psychedelic visions put all human made art works to shame. The visions are tremendously complex and detailed, in constant motion and constantly changing, and they are in 3-D. Only computer generated art can hold a candle to the infinitely detailed complexity and endless variety of psychedelic visions. My Ariel Lome painting below represents a brief glimpse of a psychedelic vision that was in constant motion. To me, comparing my painting to the actual imagery I saw behind my eyes is like comparing an early Matthew Brady Civil War black and white photograph with the latest super-cinemascope movie, the imagery is that beyond my or anyone's current ability to reproduce it. The movie Avatar in 3-D has some imagery, the dragon fighting scenes, that does come close to reproducing the complexity and color variations seen in psychedelic visions.

In the old movie Forbidden Planet there was a machine left over from a previous ancient civilization, the Krell, which could transform mental thoughts into holographic entities for display and into actual manifestations, a progression that eventually did in the Krell people. Art in the future may be done with some sort of Krell machine that can transfer psychic visions seen only in the mind of the artist to holographic reality so that others can marvel at the amazing art produced in the human brain which for millennia only a few visionary prone people were and are able to see. Because I've seen literally thousands of amazing psychedelic images as they often accompany my nightly cannabis intoxication, I long ago lost my zeal for painting. I just cannot compete with what I've seen behind my eyes. No artist can but it really will take something like the Krell Machine for most others to see and understand the art works that exist in museums and galleries are only scratching the surface of what the human mind can produce.

I've lost quite a few paintings through the years. My grandmother threw out all my childhood pictures when I went off to college. Three pictures were stolen from a theatre lobby showing. Others suffered mildew rot while we lived in the dampness of Oregon. Still others just "disappeared" over the 55+ years or so that I've been producing art . But I can't say I've ever been prolific in artwork production. I'm still waiting for that Krell Machine where my real talent for being a prolific psychedelic visionary could bring the world sight of that still mostly hidden but vastly superior visual world of mental art imagery. While I can draw and paint realistically I don't enjoy it. What I do enjoy is being able to "dance" with line form and colors, to create a visual dance using abstract art and yes, cartoons. I naturally gravitated to cartooning as I do possess a sense of humor, warped though it may be. I was the staff cartoonist for our high school paper and remember one of my cartoons being censored if memory serves for disrespecting Columbus Day. I had Columbus and the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria all sailing off the edge of the world, cascading down the precipice that awaited them. In my brief student days at U.C. Berkeley I managed to join the cartoon staff of The Pelican, UCB's humor magazine. In high school I was predicted to work for MAD magazine and I actually did trot around to Disney Studios and some other big studios only to find out it was pretty much in-house hiring and not much turnover. Besides, I disliked doing consecutive panels, always more into cartoons as abstract art, why would you want a Picasso painting as a series of cartoon characters? Because it would be neat, cool, to see. Still, cartoon series was not for me. From early admiration for Salvador Dali and his incredible detailed paintings I saw for myself at an open museum art show featuring a Dali work that close up you could see his pencil sketching mistakes under the glitz of imagery. From surrealism to DADA, a mixture of MAD magazine and loony-tunes who would suspect a dedicated social change activist was hiding in me?

I am a cartoon artist by natural preference. I can draw and paint realistically if I want to but it makes artwork a chore for me while abstract psychedelic art is like dancing with imagery for me and cartooning is just plain fun. Below are some of my earliest cartoon characters that I eventually wanted to see made as plush toys*: Fwows. I was around 13 when I invented Fwows as a whole series of characters. Here's another character from about that time: A Pocket Thesaurus. I loved dinosaurs as a kid decades before they became popular through the Jurassic Park movies. It was a difficult choice for my college major between paleontology and anthropology with anthropology winning out - - until I dropped out of Berkeley..

 

                                                fwow.jpg (13397 bytes)                               wpe18.jpg (295961 bytes)

                                                                                              Fwow (1958)                                                                                                                     Pocket Thesaurus (1958)

*see Divine Design Toys

 

Here are some of my earliest proto-psychedelic cartoons from around 1961, '62 that started to show influence of psychedelic substances on my cartoon style. Obviously, according to our conservative parent and kin, I had fallen into anti-social behavior due to my going to (Commie) U.C. Berkeley and dropping out to become one of those wretched Peace beatniks, no, too late for them and I was too early for hippies. But regardless, I am stamped with the social turmoil that our generation faced with the unjust Vietnam War and its protest, plus that which we created ourselves, discovering and spreading psychedelic drug culture throughout America and turning American values upside down. Briefly. Only to return sicker than before. The Counterculture failed. Couldn't do it, could not bring the social revolution in that we knew America needed so badly but that's another story in my other life as a social change organizer...perhaps I should have stuck to art...anyway, some quite whacky cartoons.

 

 

                             

      

 

(no titles and all circa 1961-62)

Just for fun I tried doing a cartoon at age 55 instead of 18.

Still got the touch but not much progress in 48 years.

Better stick to my day job..

 

 

Below are later examples of my psychedelic cartoon drawing and painting art style; with a few representational pieces included. From drawings above I graduated to paintings aiming for a gallery show. It never happened as I dropped out of the art world and into social change organizing. Many years later, one painting which missing here, a commissioned representational work for the owners of the Benbow Inn where I worked seven years as a night auditor, has quite a story to it. Unfortunately, I've seem to have lost all photos of it. I tried to sue the new owners of the Benbow Inn under the VARA (Visual Artists Rights Act) who I discovered had let bat droppings wreck the painting for years while it was stored away up in the attic. No court case as the statute of limitations had run out but it did force the owners to restore the painting.

 

Peyote Wheel

In 1965 while attending Los Angeles City College in a Theatre Arts class where we had to give a presentation on some topic that really interested us, I presented a "Peyote Wheel". Attempting to duplicate psychedelic visions I created this mechanical wheel device with light projection capacity that featured rotating discs on which I had painted simple designs in repetition. The discs were to move at different speeds and even directions which in turn made the projected psychedelic imagery on the discs intersect in interesting ways. Fellow classmate and presenter was Tally Coppola, my friend at the time who was to become known as Talia Shire of the Rocky series and of course, her famous brother, director of the Godfather series. Years later I tried to get Francis to help do a documentary film about the Paxcalibur Story but he wasn't interested. I did produce a screenplay, well, half a screenplay, WORD, which is linked below.

 

                              Phoenix picture.JPG (135897 bytes)                           lewis_stephen_image03.jpg (4018824 bytes)

                                                                     Phoenix (1965)                                                                                                         Too Big for Words (1965)      

 

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  Samurai Fast Action (1965)                                                                                       'Maximillian' (1967)

                                     

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                                                                                              Leggo-painting #3 (1968)

 

Crucifixion (1968)

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    (poor photo image shows painting composed of the words of the late '60's folksinger Phil Oakes' song "Changes")

 

The Ariel Lome painting (1975)

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Enlargement of part of upper section

 

In the year 2000 this painting fell when a large screw on which it was hung had worked loose over the years. The upper right hand quadrant was damaged. A fairly substantial hole was punched through the Formica-board on which this acrylic painting was painted. Not knowing a thing about painting restoration and too poor to even consider hiring an expert I didn't know what to do as it was impossible for me to reproduce the original parts of the painting where there was now a jagged hole. I thought of dividing the painting up into quadrants and excluding the damaged one but that was too drastic.

What to do.. I've never gone back and repaired or changed a painting and also I've also moved on in my painting style preferring to do texture paintings now over hard-edged flat ones. Well, "It's meant to be", I said to myself and proceeded to begin a new phase of this painting's life by filling in the damaged area with semi-amorphous texture images. To balance out the painting as a whole the new texture imagery will be continued throughout all the formerly black areas of the painting. When finished it will no longer be the "Ariel Lome" painting of 1975 but the "Ariel Salome" painting of 2006. When Ariel Salome is completed I will post its image here.

Native America seems to be in my blood and shows up in my art. I've spent decades in what's called "Indian Country" by activists working with tribal peoples. When I traveled to the Holy Land I found that the land there and also in Europe where I had a 12 hour lay over seemed "foreign" to me, not my homeland. I am an American and think about things from a North American continental viewpoint.

 

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The Whale (1976)

 

 

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                                           Martin Luther King poster (1986)                                                                                                            Redwood Lily (1989)   

 

 

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(as yet) Untitled (1993)

 

 

Roger De Shon

My life-long friend and fellow master psychedelic artist has produced some of the most amazing pictures and one fantastic metal sculpture to be found in the whole Psychedelic Art Movement. Here are some of Roger's works:

 

 

Roger De Shon

 

 

 

This piece fascinates me because Roger has managed to capture the type of behind-the-eyes psychedelic visions I frequently have with cannabis intoxication. I see these rows of almost letters but not really that run like moving type faces across the screen of my interior vision. Roger's metal sculpture is unique, never seen anything quite like it as he has reproduced a type of psychedelic hallucination I've seen many a time but have yet to see it outside my own mind or Roger's piece above.

Although a full veteran of the psychedelic '60's, I and most of my friends were not what you'd call heavily into these drugs as happened with less educated hippies. Because we had a chemist student among our group we became guinea pigs for his mescaline, psilocybin, and other psychedelics but we didn't crash and burn on any of it although I found out the hard way I could only do low doses of LSD. This was early days in '62-'65. Because I am a natural visionary person, an artist at age seven able to draw realistic birds and trees, flowers, people's faces, while other kids were making lollypop trees and stick figures, when I first took peyote it propelled my brain into a fantastic visual world, one with incredibly precise imagery constantly in motion, in 3-D and in those early days mostly like ancient Indian architecture of dancing gods and goddesses by the hundreds dancing within cubicles and all dancing differently yet the whole image was completely synchronized.

I was stunned that this hidden world of art imagery existed within the human brain. Where do these images come from and what mechanism coordinates the fantastic complexity of image movements? Sometimes I think our brains are actually receptors of information that exists holographically everywhere, only its a human talent to see this world of endless imagery generation that, like other talents, is not universally distributed. For all the reputation psychedelics had to elicit mental imagery and project it as hallucinations, in my experience within that psychedelic time period was it was the rare individual who got past the lowest levels of psychedelic imagery, usually the kaleidoscope geometric patterns, the paisley patterns, the symmetric mandalas, etc, vs. what I was seeing on a level surpassing the dragon fight scenes in the movie Avatar.

It's funny but each different hallucinogen has its own imagery "candle power" and speed of animation as well as types of images. Cannabis imagery is the weakest in light intensity, it is dark mostly although it has the same capacity for astonishing detail. Anything image-wise is able to come up. Cannabis imagery speed is the fastest one oddly enough, peyote the slowest. LSD the very brightest of them all and at "regular" 200 micrograms it loosened up a horror show of sensory overload in me. I could not see straight as there was so much hallucinatory imagery overlaying everything I could only shut my eyes to the confused imagery but it was the same thing behind my eyes. Low doses were ok, but all in all eight, maybe ten trips in ten or fifteen years? The other experimental drugs were just one time events for each and alcohol has never been agreeable to me, it reminds me of ether and I find it weird people actually like the stuff. No nicotine, no caffeine, I'm a light-weight in drug ingestion, except I am a long-term (54 years now I think) of cannabis and most definitely feel cannabis enhances everything sensory and aids in spiritual consciousness--for me. Everyone's different so I don't demand others follow my example although because it is a comparatively light drug usage schedule, I think most Americans could do worse and do do worse. I mean I'm voting for Jill Stein against these two candidates that are all we got? A super-rich Archie Bunker and a Machiavellian power hungry female impersonator? I'll take sensible policies like not vaccinating GMOs or searching for aliens in chemtrails. (Sorry, but we've manage to elect one of the worst presidents ever at the time of this writing and I had to say something.)

 

 

One of my lost paintings circa 1969, this one "Steve carrying a large parrot (according to Roger), actually a bag of groceries into my futuristic domicile with a psychedelic sky above.

 

 

Spiritually inspired visions

 

The two spiritual visions, the Ship of Light and the Vision of Christ Josephine, were actually in motion when I saw them so it was not technically possible for me to paint them. Actually, I don't have the technical skill to do them justice even as stopped motion pictures. So they remain verbal pictures until perhaps some day they can be made into digital motion pictures. I have made one short experimental animation film back in my youth when I was pursuing a career in film making. That 3 minute film became part of an experimental movie program shown in the Cinema Theatre in Hollywood circa 1965.

 

 

Paxcalibur, Sword of Peace

 

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Paxcalibur on the bank of the Jordan River

 

 

The Ship of Light

 

The Ship of Light is a painting in motion of a ship in the shape of Noah's Ark except that it's sides are not made of gopher wood but gemstones set in twelve rows following the order of gemstones in found in Rev 21:19,20 for the description of the foundation stones of New Jerusalem.

The Ship of Light has two masts which are tall trees like redwoods, one symbolizing the Tree of Knowledge and the other, the Tree of Life. The trees are the Ship's masts and sails. At the helm of the Ship of Light's twelve spoke wheel stand Christ Jesus and Christ Josephine with arms around each other as they steer the Ship of Light down from the sky into a sheltered cove where thousands of people await its arrival.

 

The Vision of Christ Josephine

 

In the vision Josephine is walking determinedly but with a smiling face as she marches through a fierce blizzard snow in a bright moonlit night. She is in buckskins and wears quivers of corn and grains and holds sunflowers in her left hand. In her right hand she holds the reins attached to a large white buffalo as she leads him through the blizzard. No snow covers her--it is as if an invisible bubble surrounds her as she marches through the blizzard.

Over her shoulder a full moon shines through the storm. And behind her as she guides the buffalo the snow disappears leaving an ever-widening swath of growing green grass, flowers, fruit trees, and animals and birds of all kinds. In the distance behind her and the buffalo the dawn is beginning with the sun just beginning to rise above the horizon in a cloudless sky.

 

Other religious imagery:

 

The Rainbow Bible

 

 

The Biomystical Cross

The woman's symbol turned upside down

 

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The Biomystical Cross foreshadowed both Paxcalibur and my finding the ankh symbolism in the New Testament

 

The 11:11 Cross: The Full Moon in the center of the Cross 

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Seen through my screened window Easter evening 1998.

 

The screen diffracted the moon's image into a perfect cross which has symbolic meaning in my religious visions--the moon symbolizing the forgotten Goddess or Female aspect of the Holy One of Heaven and Earth. Also see my painting "Crucifixion" in the Kushstone Gallery pages where I subconsciously (before my religious awakening in 1979) put an image of a woman on the stylized flying bird cross facing the inset of Jesus. Upon seeing Tibetan blue moonstones for sale at a garage sale not long ago, I visualize one of these blue moonstones at the center of the 11:11 Cross. 9-11 happened three years later.

 

Flying Heart Owl: The Sufi Flying Heart plus the Biomystical Cross

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Some earlier works

 

Clara (circa 1961)

Actually still have this ah, er, gem. Well, what can I say..it's Clara. Read for yourself and wonder how a mind that wrote that also writes social change programs and even gospels? Well, they do say God works in mysterious ways but, come on, all seriousness aside as another Steve once said, this is how you save the world? On the other hand, maybe it's good God has a sense of humor this time around, warped though it appears to be. That old Bible God certainly seemed devoid of it unless you're a Manson Family fan..

 

Texture Paintings: (circa 1965-67)

They're all gone, a half dozen or so early texture paintings where I experimented mixing together house paints, varnishes, cereals like cheerios, corn meal, and the wondrous effects of one type of cheap spray paint Sears used to make but no longer. Amazing things happened when I mixed these ingredients together as texture paintings. The spray paint reacted violently with the varnish and house paints and cereals, cracks formed and exploded showing different colors underneath, not my usual cartoonish style at all as I let the stuff more or less make its own forms. One temper tantrum and I destroyed these early works. Now, returning to art, I am doing texture painting again only this time coupling it with psychedelic imagery.

 

Animation film: "Vu" (1967)

A three minute experimental animation film using the negative of a rather amateurish student movie, spaghetti monster original exposed film stock that I painted over and then spray-painted, coated and sealed, where applied overlays created rainbow snow-like dots on the screen that to the viewer's eye automatically synchronized with the Beatles tune Tomorrow Never Knows that I used as a score for the film. "Vu" was shown twice in the Cinema Theatre in Hollywood as part of an experimental student film series.

 

Music: The New Cool School (1967)

A proto-punk rock singing and instrumental duet with my friend Roger on clarinet and me on piano and neither one of us knowing how to play our instruments worth beans. Unexpectedly and miraculously we clicked in synch with each other and it sounded so good hearing our recording that we got the tape played on Peter Bergman's Fire Sign Theatre on KPFA public radio in 1967. Unfortunately, that tape among several others were stolen many years later so unless Peter Bergman has a recording of it it's lost to history, as are all my childhood art and all the early texture paintings using cereal and various spray paints, glues and bits of this and that where the spray paints and varnishes often interacted violently together creating bubbles and craters and cracks with multi-colored hues showing through. I did these texture paintings prior to starting my psychedelic art work. Now I'm combining both techniques.

 

Poetry

Not really a dedicated poet, sorta like my art work in that way which suffered deprivation because of my social change activism overriding artistic creation, still I did produce a few poems early on and they must mean something considering everything else..

 

WORD

Screenplay based on my Futurescope concept of using word counts as a means of predicting future events. In the movie a young grad student inventing a future predicting system using word counting. Then Google came along providing a word counting service but Google never understood the potential of such a system. I still want to finish and do WORD someday when I'm rich and famous after I've saved the world. Good luck there, me still at the poverty line turning 74 a few days ago..

 

Kushstone Review

With a layout and editorial mindset like the old Psychedelic Review, Roger and I plan a periodical devoted to psychedelics and psychedelic art. We will do this some day we've been telling ourselves for years...

 

 

 

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