Thursday, May 30, 2013

Take me to another land

Arrested Development's Tennessee is much like a prayer.
Better known than their Tennessee is People Everyday, as in "I-iii am everyday people." I wonder how people come up with fresh, new, artistic stuff. Probably not by being conformist in everyday life.
Speaking of crazy creatives, here is Jesse Jagz' latest, Redemption.
Jesse's work is not a complete match with my taste usually, but it ALWAYS excites me, impresses, entertains, intrigues me.  God bless you, Jesse.

I'm dreaming of Arab music. Take me to another land, y'hear?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I painted Obama

Got the urge to paint this morning.  Having spent the wee hours watching a right-wing, campaign-era film about how bad life would be if Obama were elected president, I thought hey, why not paint the star-spangled banner (O say can you see...) and Obama's mug?  So that's what I did.  I think it worked out well - sparkly stars, dark tobacco lips, sizable ears, and a decent shade of brown.  I love mixing/making browns. 
Painting K - Obama - May 25 2013
 What's weird is that I had no photo to copy, just the memory from the video.  Memory is more powerful than we know, I suppose.  More photographic than we think.
To use up the left-over paint - waste not - I did this concept, think futuristic parking lot in some Tom Cruise Mission Impossible flick.  They're pods, not cars. 
Painting L - ipod - May 25 2013
 I'll show you all my previous poster-colours.  On April 3rd, I tried to imagine this dark-haired and pregnant Kim Kardashian in a striped dress.  Then I painted the shoes in front of me, my everyday green Columbia slippers and pink Mary Jane sandals.   The striped background is imaginary, just trying to dispose of the paint really.  Then I painted the decor in front of me - you've seen this one before - a cushion and two baskets. I had extra black so I did some sort of shall we say nuclear reaction and a twister.
In primary school when we used watercolours, I always had to draw an outline in pencil first.  But on TV, artists didn't paint between the pencilled lines.  In secondary school, JS1 - JS3, I mostly recall drawing and shading - pencil work - not painting.   Some fun drawings - Ife and Benin heads, light plays on still-lifes...
Painting F - Queen Kim Kardashian
Painting G - Footwear

Painting H - Still Life
Painting J - Twister/Tornado
 There's a nice pair from Feb 8th.
Corniche has a too-red beach/road, but I'm proud of the highway.  I was proud of it, that was only my second day of painting, and I thought it was special that I made the white median by excluding black.  Corniche is a real word and is the name of many scenic coastal highways e.g. Corniche el Nil (Cairo).  Apparently there's one in Doha, Beirut, ...
The second image is of a person lying in bed.  It took me a long time to do (few hours?) - some good browns, some strange browns. 
Painting D - Corniche
Painting E - Me repose
On February 3rd, I got started with this stuff.  The first two are probably not nice to look at, if you like harmony.  That was me learning what to do with a brush and a six-can set of moldy paint.
The third makes up for this by being very tranquil - what do you think?  Sol y Azul is the name of a Pasadena restaurant (maybe it's still there, there was a Buddha the food was ok, sort of Mexican if I recall?) and the title of at least one poem I wrote. 
Painting A - Red Skin Boil
Painting B - Virus
Painting C - Sol y Azul (Sun and Sky)
If any of these paintings is really crap to you, it's because my (phone) camera isn't very good.  Or the lens in your eyes.  Nighty-night. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The worst movies I've ever seen

1. City of Angels
Nicholas Cage moping for  one, two hours.  I think somebody died or something.  I walked out, although I waited for it to be over first.  You see, I would watch anything. 
Who cares?
 2. The Blair Witch Project.
Summer of 1999 - Remember?  This film was supposed to be scary, "different", realistic, all sorts of (wasted) adjectives.  Instead it was nothing.  I sat there in the theater with a dozen other interns and the film was over, rolling the credits, and I was dumbfounded.  

3 a b c. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars
I tried and failed to watch these.  I recall sleeping hard through these ones.  Lord of the Rings I borrowed a DVD for a week and still slept through.

4.  Mr. and Mrs.
Nigeria celebrates an actress named Nse Ikpe.  I assume she's a feminist, or a self-respecting female human being.  So it's unforgivable that she'd play the Mrs in this film - a woman who lets her cute little husband grossly demean and mistreat her and then cries all the time instead of taking charge.  I wanted to kill her and kill myself and kill all the appreciative viewers in the movie theater who somehow thought this was realistic and maybe even empowering.
I understand that this story of great suffering and endurance by a wife, with eventual vindication and status, is common in Nollywood.  I have seen a few good Nolly films - Inale, Tango With Me, Saworoide and several Yoruba films, even Figurine.  Mr. and Mrs. was an unpleasant surprise, because I thought only the good ones made it to theaters. 

5. Saw
It's a series of sensational horror scenes without a story arc.  I quit after about 10 minutes.  So far a man and woman had chopped off progressively larger body parts - e.g. saw off own arm and quickly add to the weighing scale.  The loser would be killed by the monstrous person who set up the contest. 

What are some of your worst film-watching experiences?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Renaissance-guy Victor Ehikhamenor

I found this excellent Victor Ehikhamenor interview on  VE is a talented creative writer, celebrated visual artist, design expert and culture buff who wants to institute a great museum someday.  I like telling people I know him.
Read the FULL  INTERVIEW (two pages).  Excerpts:

SU: What inspired you to put together your articles into the book Excuse Me!?
VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR: There were a few inspirations or should I say reasons. One of them was that the articles which appeared under my weekly column at the now defunct NEXT newspapers and its online arm,, suddenly disappeared from the web. When the newspaper folded, the articles were no longer available online for people who needed to access them. I also couldn’t do so whenever I wanted to reference them and that became a concern for me. I did not want a situation where the articles will forever be lost, like ashes in a whirlwind. So I decided to repackage them, because there are many roads that lead to a farm. There is also the tradition of writers harnessing their columns into a book; it’s like bringing all your stuff under one roof. Dave Barry, the American humor columnist, has so many books based on his syndicated column; Ken Saro-Wiwa did it with his Simila articles that appeared in the old Daily Times, and many others. It was also a way of catering to my avid readers and loyal fans who kept asking about Excuse Me!

SU: You are also a fine artist, and once described yourself as a figurative-abstractionist. What does that mean and why do you hate taming your style?
VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR: It means I am most likely not just going to drop a two centimetre dot on a large canvas or weave a large bogus narrative around a dot. When you look at my painting, you will see figures, some recognizable, some not. My works are a menagerie of different things, a representative magical realism, if you wish to call it that. I work in a way that you discover something new about it every day. Why I hate taming my style is because as a people, we enjoy the robustness of a story and I paint with so much zeal, like a frenzied story teller. My paintings are a story - folktales, myths, mystery, history and many more. And those themes don’t lend themselves to timidity or tameness. When a strong idea hits me hard, I respond with the same velocity and go haywire on canvas, paper or any available plain surface with a child-like exuberance.

SU: Why did you leave USA for Nigeria?
VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR: Multiple reasons, some serious, some funny. But there is a saying in my village that, no matter how comfortable it is a farmer should never let his rest under a shaded tree become permanent. Nigeria is home and America is house. Difference dey. As I grew older, that fleeting thought of “you are contributing one way or the other to the greatness of an already great country, while yours is going to the dogs” became rampant. I began to get very restive about the whole idea of remaining in a comfort zone. I also began to realize that Nigeria was no longer what it was when I first decided to leave. My friends who were visiting from Nigeria no longer wanted to stay back. When the opportunity came in 2008 for me to come and be the creative director for NEXT newspapers, I did not think twice. I packed my bags and left America. I have never looked back since because I am happier among my people and I feel I am contributing something to the greatness this country deserves.

SU: While writing or painting, do you take drugs, smoke marijuana or drink alcohol to fire up your creative imagination?
VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR: I was born high. I curtail my ‘highness’ and restlessness with my multiple creative endeavours. So as you can see, if I get any ‘higher’, I probably would be useless to myself and the society. Also, I would be insulting God who created me the way I am if I take substances to get creative. Let me tell you a quick true life story about marijuana: when I was growing up, most people who smoked marijuana in my village were way too high that some forgot to cut their hair, tend their farms or even live a normal life. If you like, you can call that madness. So, every now and then, your parent would point to one cool guy enjoying his spliff openly under a mango tree, with his clothes hanging from a nearby branch, and say to you, “You wan lost abi, you nor wan read book abi, ok…if you like go dey smoke morocco (marijuana) like that man”. So over the years, to keep my trousers on my waist, I knew not to experiment with marijuana or drugs. I don’t have issue with any of my creative friends who smoke marijuana to get inspiration or any reason whatsoever; it is just not my thing. 


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Where I work

This is a set of pictures taken around campus April - September 2012
Driveway and bell tower

Same Deadwood, same day
Under the orange tree

Caterpillar on snail on wall
Band rehearsal

The students call it Brick City (or Brixcity), and their favourite place (for the boys at least) is the sports field. I forgot to get a picture of that.