Piet Oudolf’s garden in Acrylic on Belgian linen panel (Raymar custom size). Featuring the famous yew hedge rows and typical grass design. Unfortunately the rows are no more and I believe the garden is no longer open to the public.
Today there have been many interviews, editorials and the like extolling the talent and the life of Bob. While I was listening and reflecting on these reports, I began to recall recent and distant events where he and his work intercepted with my life and more and more memories came flooding in. So below here are a few of mine – they are nothing special but I think it shows how an artist can cross and influence our lives. I am certain that many of you will have similar experiences.
The portrait above is my rendition of Bob in acrylic inspired and based upon one down by Joan Baez. I confess to some form of mimicry here. Joan, of course, must have a special insight into his character and I think she brings it out in the portrait.
My first exposure to Bob was when I was probably around 9 or 10 in Liverpool (UK) when my sister and her best friend, who were 3 years older tan me, starting playing his albums and on the record player in my sister’s bedroom. They were so taken and enthralled with this young man. I did not take to the music at that stage but by osmosis those tracks from his first 3 to 5 albums were indelibly imprinted.
Then I recall he came to Liverpool twice to play concerts and my sister and friend went to see him live – that must have been in 1965 and maybe a year or two after that. In later life I was a little jealous that I missed those early events. Many years later, upon watching the excellent documentary by D.A. Pennebaker of Dylan’s 1965 UK tour, I really got a kick of the scenes in Liverpool when he staying at the Adelphi Hotel downtown and he invited some fans (young schoolgirls) up to his suite. They were the same age as my sister and her friend, and for a moment I thought i was going to see my sister in the documentary – but no. The story goes that Dylan liked Liverpool as a city and felt it had a similar vibe to NYC. Who knows if that is true.
In 1999, my wife and I were in NYC and knowing that I had never seen Eric Clapton live she had treated to me to a ticket to see him in Madison Square Garden. It was the Eric Clapton & Friends To Benefit Crossroads Centre Antigua concert, and one of his (suprise) guests was Bob. That night I finally saw Clapton and Dylan in one show. Part of the show is below. Thrill!
Over the last decade I came across a couple of anecdotes from friends. The first was told to me one of my art instructors, Tom, who mentioned that one of the check out guys at Trader Joe’s used to be friend of Bob’s before he became famous. They would go camping, hang out, etc. Just a regular guy. I think he is still at TJ’s.
My friend David used to live in the same neighborhood as Bob in Hibbing, MN and was a teenage friend. David recalls Bob being distressed about a girlfriend and David trying to give him advice on the right thing to do, etc. Keep in mind, however, that human memory is flawed…
Finally, while living in Washington State last year, I ended up in a productive painting period and decided to listen to all of Bob’s discography post Blonde on Blonde. I had never really spent much time focused on his portfolio after that album. So I spent many an hour listening two or three times to each album – an enormous body of work. So glad that I did this as it opened up a new world of the many changing styles of Bob to me. I doubt that I would have done this without the lockdown. Nobel prize well justified.
I am starting to think there is a treasure trove of images captured in old photographs from our world travels over the last 35 years. This one is from a series of ‘snaps’ taken with a simple and inexpensive camera using Kodak or Fuji film from 1983. The 3×5 print is all I have, but after scanning and a little photoshopping, I am quite pleased with the result. Hopefully, I will find more…
Receiving UK First Day covers in the mail once or twice a month from the Royal Mail is a passive form of collecting, I admit…..but the array of topics and creative art that often (but not always) is provided in these covers is astounding. I have been collecting since October of 1993, and this ‘Sherlock Holmes” theme was my first received. To view more samples go the pull down “Thematic Philately” Tab on the blog.
We all had this tremendous appetite for live music. Coming from disparate corners of the UK, all of us being 17 or 18 years of age, escaping the boredom of living at home with families in sleepy neighborhoods, we just could not believe the plethora of live music many nights of the week at the University of Manchester Student Union, the Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), downtown venues and surrounding colleges. My recollection of those times was that our ‘band of friends’ would venture out most weekend nights for one of two performances, and also mid week when possible. I recently came across my first year (freshman) student union card, on the back of which I diligently recorded the band/artist roster for the first two semesters of that first year. A list-making & collecting compulsive/obsessive pattern that has followed me into adulthood.
A total of Thirty Eight performances over the first two semesters – here is the illustrated list with a few annotated memories. This is a pretty amazing list in retrospect.
Starting with the most memorable for me – Led Zeppelin at the Students Union, March 19th. Although it was March, the Union Hall was packed solid, standing only and getting very hot. I recall making my way over the tall window on the west side and climbing onto the ledge – fabulous view over the heads of all and then cracking open the window to help cool the room.
Club Atlético River Plate is a professional sports stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina and this is the crowd for this AD/DC concert. You can check out the whole concert on youtube, but just watch the masses respond in my favorite AC/DC song “TNT” and wonder how could you not get a feeling of megalomania if you were on stage? And what a fan base they have in Argentina – they know every word!