art

Duke Ellington, Elvis, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Stones, Miles Davis, Prince, Zeppelin … all the music John Bohlinger loves was born from the trailblazing jazz and blues of Bessie Smith (above) and Satchmo.

While watching the Ken Burns documentary Jazz, I realized all the music I love was born from the jazz and blues of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong.

Ancient Egyptian paintings and sculptures all look like they were created by a sixth grader. They are stiff, flat profiles with feet, nose, and chin pointing in the same direction: no depth, no realism. All art was this primitive until the 5th century, when Greeks took a giant step forward … literally. They developed contrapposto, where a standing human figure is posed with their weight resting on one leg. The weight shift brought organic movement, bringing the paintings and sculptures to life. (Check out the 5th century Kritios Boy, which is the earliest known Greek statue to use contrapposto.)

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It includes an F-bomb or two, but the screen legend's speech to college graduates highlights the inevitability of rejection and how you've got to keep working.

"Time goes on. So whatever you're going to do, do it. Do it now. Don't wait." —Robert De Niro

Here's a true music industry story that's stuck with me for 15 years. I'm keeping this anonymous because the story involves some transgressions by formerly powerful people, and although I like the idea of karma in action, I'm no snitch. As a rule, I avoid saying negative things about anybody, whether it's deserved or not.

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Alton Kelley, psychedelic-era artist, died peacefully Sunday at his home in Petaluma, CA.

Petaluma, California (June 2, 2008) -- Renowned artist Alton Kelley embodied and embraced the psychedelic artwork he produced. Iconic concert posters, logo designs, LP album covers and fine art exemplified the “hippie” lifestyle found on Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco during the sixties and early-seventies. Kelley, born June 17, 1940, passed away Sunday at his home in Petaluma, CA., after a long struggle against complications from a long illness.

Pushing the limits and creating new types of expressions, Kelley gave the music community an eruption of colors, designs, themes which symbolized the youth movement’s fresh breath of optimism and enthusiasm. The music of his generation catered to the hopeful minds and ears of the “hippies,” but Kelley’s artwork gave a face and imagery to the counter-culture movement.

Kelley and his life-long collaborator Stanley Mouse made a stamp on the scene for their posters of “San Francisco style” dance-concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland Arena, Fillmore West, Avalon Ballroom and a many more San Francisco area theaters and arenas. With credits to LP album artwork including the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Journey, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia, they may best known for their co-creation of the skull and roses icon used by the Grateful Dead.

In their words, they worked in a style “riffing off each other''s giggle.” They combined vivacious colors with French-poster making joi de vivre enthusiasm, but incorporated their own technique that dazzled and captivated millions. Not only did their art shift music marketing, but they pioneered album artwork and musician/group identification.

When Kelley (a native of Maine) met Mouse (a native of Detroit, MI) in San Francisco''s Haight-Ashbury district in late 1965, they instantly recognized they were kindred spirits in what Mouse describes as "one of the juiciest scenes of all time.” Their concert posters, commissioned by Fillmore promoter Bill Graham and Graham''s rival, the Avalon''s Family Dog collective, were eagerly snapped up by bands and fans alike.

He is survived by the true love of his life, Marguerite Trousdale Kelley. He also leaves his mother Annie, sister Kathy, and beloved children Patty, Yossarian, and China, and beautiful grandchildren Life and Lacoda.

To view some of Kelley’s work, visit here