Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Ray Harryhausen

It's always exciting to pay tribute to someone who influenced some of your favorite artists. Ray Harryhausen was responsible for some of the earliest uses of stop-motion animation in films like The Lost World and Jason and the Argonauts. Because of this, he inspired Tim Burton, Henry Selick, and Nick Park - who all created masterpieces within the genre.

Fun fact about Harryhausen: While employed by the U.S. Army during WWII, he worked under Frank Capra and alongside Dr. Seuss in the Army Motion Picture Unit.

Also, if you want to see some of his most breathtaking work, see this film.

Harryhausen (with skeleton warrior):

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Gilda Radner

One of SNL's best ever...
I'm glad to have her in this birthday collection of portraits along with her life partner, Gene Wilder.

And she'll be the last portrait added to my show at the Craftland Gallery, Today is a Birthday, June 21-28. I'll be sure to share pictures in an upcoming blog post.

Here she is (wincing) as one of her most famous characters, Roseanne Roseannadanna:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Emma Goldman

(b. June 27, 1869) The Ultimate Anarchist, Goldman wrote extensively and spoke consistently of her hopes for equality in the human race through Anarchy. Her strong opposition to power structures framed her life and she was not afraid to speak her ideals, even if they were very unpopular.

In regards to homosexuals, Goldman spoke out against the prejudice that was present even amongst other anarchists. She said, "It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life."

She was a pioneer, a soldier, and an inspiration.

Watch her here. See her portrait below:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Peyo

Belgian creator of The Smurfs. Namesake due to his English cousin's inability to pronounce Pierrot.

He'll be up in the Craftland Gallery this afternoon!

Peyo (With Papa Smurf on shoulder): 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Hope Sandoval

She's too shy to say much of anything. But we are all better for her work in the dreamy Mazzy Star.

If you would like to see a portrait of this charming lady in person (and in stitches), she'll be making her way down to the Craftland Gallery today. Come visit!

Hope Sandoval (longing):

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Bill Blass

I'm off to Craftland today to deliver the first portrait for the "mystery week" that is hanging next to the finished pieces in the stitched portrait show, Today is a Birthday.

Thursday night, June 21, saw the opening, where I selected 30 pieces from the project and put up 7 blank frames with the dates June 22-28. I will be blogging the experience throughout the week and including pictures of the show.

Blass was an influence on me as a strong American fashion designer and in my research for his portrait I found a quote of his that strengthened my interest in him as a person. He said, "The beauty of being able to draw, or paint, from an early age is that you never feel trapped, least of all by your immediate circumstances."

Bill Blass (drawing):

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Brian Wilson

No one more fitting to stitch for the summer solstice.
I really had to hold myself back from the obvious pun there...

But what to say about Brian Wilson? He's one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time, a Beach Boy, and a Killer voice that hasn't quit... And I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform live (thank you, Paul :)

Brian Wilson, at 70 years old, smiling:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Nick Drake

Bringing tears to a young me, Nick Drake is a voice that is beyond moving.
A singer songwriter for the sadness in all of us, we lost him too early in a rush of water.
What he left behind transcends time, taste, and trend.

From the Morning - a personal favorite

and Nick Drake, smiling:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Isabella Rossellini

This woman is pure class. Her projects, her attitude, her look... See links below for further proof:

Green Porno, watch them all

Blue Velvet

Rossellini (wrapped in it):

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Igor Stravinsky

Famous for The Rite of Spring which provoked a riot after its presentation, Stravinsky is a musical hero to me for his innovative rhythmic structures which subsequently influeced minimalist composers such as Philip Glass.

I decided to celebrate him on his birthday yesterday by recreating his finest moment. In 1940 he was arrested in Boston for re-orchestrating "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Symphony Hall...Tampering with the public property... Thanks, you maniacal genius.

Igor Stravinsky (Mug Shot):

Stitched Portraits: Ultimate Warrior

There is only one wrestling superstar for me. The Ultimate Warrior was so unbelievably absurd in his presentation that you thought he was going to spontaneously combust at any moment.

And if they gave Emmy awards to wrestlers, this speech would have won by a landslide.

Ultimate Warrior (torso and scream):

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Burl Ives

I will admit that I chose this man for his role in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, hence the snowman in the portrait.

A voice of Christmas, Burl Ives:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Djuna Barnes

Her witty drawings and fearless poetry aside, Barnes led a difficult early life and let passion guide her away from the would-be madness of loveless marriage and a tyrannical father.

The Book of Repulsive Women - required reading

A magnetic presence, Djuna Barnes:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Gene Wilder

It's been a few days since the last update, but it's been fairly busy at the Katowicz house what with visitors from out of town, freelance projects, and general happiness getting in the way of posting the portraits that have happened in the last few days, but I couldn't not share my Willy Wonka... It was the first film to really inspire me and much of that had to do with Wilder's performance. His sarcasm has helped me always. He turned 79 yesterday.

Gene Wilder (as Willy Wonka):

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Prince

My brain was telling me to draw Beau Brummell, but my heart wanted to dance to Prince.
So, I'm listening to his self-titled album for the second morning in a row, shaking in my seat, and sharing the shirtless portrait based on that 1979 cover.

Prince (and those lips):

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Tony Levin

Born in Boston, Levin played in King Crimson and Peter Gabriel's backing band.  I will always remember him as the guy playing bass with mallets on his fingers, which I think about whenever I play guitar.

Tony Levin (and mallets):

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Federico Garcia Lorca

When my wife and I had just started dating, Lorca's In Search of Duendé, was a bible. The themes expressed it it are Andalusian in nature - what we would call Gypsy. Our shared interest in the folk traditions and music of this culture were given context by Lorca in this lovely little book. Through its beauty and mystery I felt more connected to Talia and I fell in love with her intensity and compassion.

The man himself was not afraid to love either. But he was also not afraid to die.
Speaking for the values that he believed in, he was murdered by anti-communist forces. He was only 38 years old.

So thank you, Federico. Your brave life and work will always remain a source of inspiration.

Federico Garcia Lorca (smoldering):

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Trained as a scout and a sniper in the Israeli army as a young girl, Dr. Ruth went on to become one of the most prominent voices in sexual education.

Somehow these things fit together.

She is also said to give a low-alcohol glass of wine to her married couples before they discuss any issues in their counseling sessions. Dr. Ruth is and always will be a progressive lady. I am thankful for her.

Dr. Ruth (toasting you):

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Allen Ginsberg

Fellow Providence native Jane Kramer called Ginsberg's being "an American brand of mysticism," comparing him to Walt Whitman and adding that it is "rooted in humanism and in a romantic and visionary ideal of harmony among men."

I couldn't have said it better, but will continue to strive for this ideal myself.

Ginsberg (in overalls):

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Marilyn Monroe

Nearly 50 years since her passing, yesterday Marilyn would have celebrated her 86th birthday. I celebrated by drawing her, classic, and surrounded in white.

Marilyn Monroe (no words necessary):

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Wesley Willis

This short documentary is a better portrait than I ever could have made but I had to at least try. Yesterday was the anniversary of this extraordinary man's birthday and he would have been 49.

Wesley was a chronic schizophrenic, but his ridiculously fun music, his gorgeous drawings of cityscapes, and the love from his fans kept him relatively happy. I had the fortune to see him perform and peek over his shoulder as he worked on one of his drawings. My memory believes it was the Providence skyline, but who knows...

An ebullient Willis (#100 in the series):