It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the photo opportunity of a lifetime, if one would only purchase a print or painting, when the garden flowers baby, are dead, it was the spring of hope, it was the time to remember what the dormouse said, to feed our heads, to go directly to heaven, but to stumble into hell.
Dig, peeps, what I’m layin’ down is sort of out of my ordinary realm of doing things. This here ARTicle is almost like being a real journalist. I must cover both sides of the story to keep it all real. First off let’s tell the tale of the story behind the first picture of a real photo.
My friend, musician/bon vivant/appreciator of fine cinema/singer for the legendary band Lovingkindness, Tom Holland, didn’t plan to be an iconic figure this evening. Didn’t plan on making people suffer for his art. Didn’t plan to go viral. Didn’t plan on buying any of Grace Slick’s paintings. But submitted for your approval, three people from different walks of life, thrown together in the blink of a camera’s eye. Captured forever by respected photographer Ellen Berman. This is as historically timely as the Jack Ruby/Lee Harvey Oswald photo! Okay, maybe I exaggerate a hair.
But dig, Grace Slick was having an art show at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Hollywood this past November. My friend Tom had just finished eating at a Thai restaurant across the street and wasn’t even going to go in but on the way to feed a pawking meter (Dylan) was accosted and taken by the elbow and pushed through the rabbit hole by friend and Hollywood socialite/scene maker/fun person Anna Goeser and was forcibly made to enjoy himself. A few minutes before this picture was taken, Tom met professional photographer Ellen Berman, an accomplished photographer and graduate of Art Center College of Design (my brother Gerard is also a graduate of said school) that was there to record the event for posterity. Anna told Tom to get a picture taken with Grace Slick, Tom takes direction very well, and went up behind Grace with the plan in his head to make, to the best of his God given ability, a Charles Manson face. Apparently, Tom’s friends were treating him like a guest, for Anna and Ellen were in conversation as Tom stood behind Slick, all the while Tom is mugging ala Chuckie M. (onlookers remarked it was more like a hopped up Charlie Callas than Manson) and during his maniacal facial movements his contact lenses started to dry and pop out, hence, film and Ellen captured the squinty eyed and menacing face that will continue to haunt unborn generations to come. Tom is a nice guy but the perfect storm of waiting, standing behind Grace, who’s mind was full of red, and the growing impatience of non-buying Slick peeps, plus the fact that logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, added fuel to a simmering Slick fire. Grace Slick made this face because she didn’t want to pose for a freebie picture. Baby, you come to the exhibit, well you best be opening up them pocketbooks of love. Because love comes once and when it comes ya got to grab it fast, cuz sometimes the love you grab ain’t gonna last and I believe I musta, you know, I think I musta, baby, I musta, I musta got lost…(sorry, thought I was at the Peter Wolf exhibit for a second)…Anyways, long story short, Grace yelled at Ellen and Ellen did try to apologize to Grace several times. To the uninformed viewer, it appears that Grace was making a funny face to be wacky and irreverent while Tom was photobombing and he comes across as a sort of psychedelia Svengali.
Apparently, Grace was wound up a little too tight that night and Tom’s tomfoolery was the sprinkle of Dash to this accelerating stew of hostility. ….and Ellen Berman was lucky and skilled enough to be in the middle of all of this. This is what great photographers do. They capture a moment in time for all of us to sit back and weigh judgment on the subject matter, to inspire roundtable discussions, to light a fire under poets, painters and the like, for them to take this photo as inspiration and to create even more “art”, and for writers to write articles with quotes from great music of the past such as “when the truth was found to be lies.”
The painting was done because it had to exist. It immediately struck a chord in my weird consciousness. Plus, I am getting the strange reputation of the guy that paints odd crap. A few people suggested that I should tackle this subject. They have their reasons. (This isn’t the first time that Tom has been strewn upon my canvas. I did a takeoff on the Louvin Brothers “Satan is Real” LP cover of a demonic looking Holland) One was probably to keep me busy so I would quit posting on Facebook. That is fine. We all have our special calling. I do see things differently. This is what left-handed peeps do.
I took the general photo image and decided to add things around Tom and Grace. The base colors in the background are pastels to give it a sort of Easter feeling. The rabbits are actually taken from a couple of Grace Slick’s paintings…a sort of homage to her, more Easter vibe. I like Grace Slick but I do not know her. The music she did with Jefferson Airplane was great. I own a couple of their LP’s. The Starship I can pretend they never existed. But “White Rabbit” is a song that I can listen to forever. She is a pretty decent painter too but I am in no position to pass judgment on folks’ creations. Unfortunately the parties involved may have gotten a different vibe from the Slickster on this evening. I also threw in some mushrooms and weird spheres and eyeballs to suggest song lyrics, drugs, motion and a sense of being watched at all times. I admit I could not get the menacing look that was actually on Tom’s face at the time. I had to settle for a more demanding/knowing/seething/ I would like to kill you but hate the effort look, with the clouds representing some sort of storm that was surely a-brewing underfoot.
This has been my most popular painting so far according to feedback. It was a fun one to do. I liked the opportunity to let the imagination go wild while still keeping the solidness of the photo intact. Many thanks to all parties involved…Tom Holland, Anna Goeser, Grace Slick and the great photograph by Ellen Berman. Peace and respects, TBH…
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I already knew the basic story but this version is so full of EXTRAS!! Love it!