Thursday, September 12, 2013

JOHN VAN HAMERSVELD art exhibition "Drawing Attention"

 In which we attend the "Drawing Attention" exhibit of by John Van Hamersveld, one of the major art directors/graphic designers of all time, at his Cal State University Artist Reception, 9.7.13, info at bottom.  As creator of graphics for the iconographic "Endless Summer" surf film poster, murals for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and, amongst scores of thousands of jobs, the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" release, he remains our own West Coast equivalent of Milton Glaser, another art director who draws and fellow producer of timeless pop cultural images (however oxymoronic such may sound, but that's how great art transcends.)  

Top photo, John Van Hamersveld explains oceanographic matters to a kindred former surfer, my better half Mr. Twister and to author ("Canyon of Dreams" amongst many other books) Harvey Kubernik. The artist had a hand in designing singer Mr. Twister's EP with his band Christopher Milk on United Artists Records some 42 years ago, whereas Harvey was a contemporary supporter of C.Milk and Twister's 1976-78 punk band Chainsaw, writing in the pages of Melody Maker. 

A 2000s example, the below drawing "Cats and Dogs" appears even more mesmerizing in person, as its ink wash images are accomplished on assorted tissue paper overlays as in the oldskool, pre-digital graphic art production layout processes. The tissue or vellum overlays of old constituted different colors to be printed. Here it's used for in person, 3-D effect.

Above, manga/anime frisson and an earlier self portrait. Below, Mr. Twister acknowledges a concert that he himself attended in 1968 at the Shrine Auditorium (where the Academy Awards Oscars shows later were held!) Van Hamersveld drew many of the classic psychedelic posters for rock shows of the era, as his San Francisco art buddies  Victor Moscoso and fellow surfer/surf artist the late Rick Griffin and he shared and traded Underground Comics influences.

Yours truly passes a pussy riot of colossal feline graphics from original drawing while documenting in photographic medium. Guest photographer for above and below pics, Kurt Ingham.

 Above and below: teeth!  Lots of 'em!  Van Hamersveld began stylistic tinkering with the male variant of the drawing, "Johnny Face" in 1969, evolving into the "Crazy World, Ain't It" logo seen on billboards for then rock radio station KRLA, and finally into the "Johnny Girl" drawing below that became an Art Direction Grammy winner for him in 1972 via the LP "Jimmy McGriff - Black Pearl."  

Possible influence:
the funster logo of
long ago Coney Island 
Steeplechase Park,
NY with its 44 teeth
(12 more than

 The exhibit continues at California State University Northridge Art Galleries, 1811 Nordhoff St., Northridge CA 91330 in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley until Oct. 12, 2013. 
Call ahead 818 677 2156 for info as parking is somewhat tricky: we had to drive over a street curb even to approach the site, making our eventual getaway one step ahead of the parking fuzz...

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