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 (1958) Pocket Thesaurus (1958)
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.
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 (1965) Too Big for Words (1965)
Samurai Fast Action (1965) 'Maximillian' (1967)
Leggo-painting #3 (1968)
(poor photo image shows painting composed of the words of the late '60's folksinger Phil Oakes' song "Changes")
The Ariel Lome painting (1975)
Enlargement of part of upper section