Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Jim Henson

I'm a day late with this one, but with good reason.

His is one of those birthdays that everyone applauds because his life was so much about celebration. Henson's impact will continue to be felt in the creative community and beyond because his name is a sign of comic and puppet quality. I felt that his portrait would have been too lonely without his friends. So here he is, with a handful of them:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Mickey Rooney

Yesterday was Mickey Rooney's 92nd birthday, but more significantly - his appearance in 2011's The Muppets marked his 10th decade of film acting.

As I had such a wealth of career to choose from, picking a reference image was expansive. He's been famous his whole life. I decided to go with a recent image so I could draw the lines and the liver spots, and of course, his trademark teeth. Upon stitching the portrait I couldn't help but think I drew him to look like Mao Zedong. Which immediately became funny to me when I said it out loud:

Mickey Mao.

(See for yourself, here):

Stitched Portraits: Nelson

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson actually didn't seem like people to me when I was growing up. They were strange blonded creatures that shared a stage and danced around with their instruments in music videos like this one. To me, they came packaged together and I promised to make them part of this collection as the first twinset because they had that long straight hair and those long straight faces (And actually, they're the second pair of twins. The Kuchars were the first. I guess that's for the best, as I never had any particular affinity for their music. It was their look that stunned me.)

So I rushed their portrait last week as I was working on a different project. But I liked how it turned out - more loose than I've been recently with these... And Gunnar's crooked eye just seemed perfect.

Nelson (80s forever):

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Grayson Hall

Dark Shadows, as I've stated before, was a great show from the late sixties that my wife and I happened to find in the later part of the last decade - Forty years after the fact. Although it was certainly a soap opera, it featured some of the greatest, albeit under mentioned, actors of all time.

Grayson Hall was memorable as Dr. Julia Hoffman due to her unending fascination/crush on Barnabas Collins, her medallion, her experiments, her stares and glares, and overall intense delivery. She was nominated for an Academy Award due to her role in John Huston's The Night of the Iguana and often played in Jean Genet avant-garde theater. I wish we had been friends.

Grayson Hall (and cheekbones):

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kevin Clash

The man behind Elmo also serves as the Creative Director of Sesame Street and learned his chops alongside Jim Henson and Frank Oz. He was discovered by Kermit Love, who coached him on the intricacies of puppeteering. Prior to that, as a teenager he made nearly hundreds of his own puppets and used them for his own performances. This kind of discipline for a craft came from his profound passion and curiosity for construction.

Clash has stated that the creation of Elmo came from one simple place -  LOVE. Elmo stands for love and because of that he is one of the most beloved characters of all time. I had the chance to meet Elmo and made red fur pants and a red fur bowtie for the event. I swear it was better than meeting even the biggest of rock stars. Elmo is a giant. A little furry red GIANT. And Clash is his wrangler, giving over his entire person for the character. I've seen it and it is magical.

Kevin Clash (and Elmo):

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Mickey Rourke

There is one movie star that reminds me of my father. Mickey Rourke is exactly that man. I've also enjoyed him in every movie I've ever seen him (including Spun).

Aside from his ridiculous fashion sense (I call it 'Johnny Depp meets Robert Downey Jr. and they share a trailer park home and go ridin' every day'), his gruff delivery (even when he was young and strapping, he had it), his career as a boxer (twice in his life, the second leading to his really bad plastic surgery) - he is also a profound lover of his little dogs. He has chihuahua mixed breeds and he loves them like the closest family. He even thanked one in his Golden Globe acceptance speech.

Mickey Rourke and Loki, a chihuahua/terrier:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Roald Dahl

I think we all owe a piece of our childhood to Mr. Dahl. His dedication to truth in his fantastic stories allows us all connect to them. Naturally, these stories have translated to some of the cutest films I've ever seen, i.e. Matilda, The Witches, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox...

During his lifetime he left a legacy behind, simply by keeping dedicated to the daily task of going to his writing shed, four hours a day, no matter what. His example was one of the driving factors behind this current stitched portrait project. Yesterday was his birthday and is now commonly known as "Roald Dahl Day" (September 13th). I celebrate him proudly.

Roald Dahl, a hero to the dreamers:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stitched Portraits: H.D.

Hilda Doolittle was born on September 10th, 1886.
I came to know her in the period in my life between college and real-life. With a steady diet of the avant-garde, which included philosophers, poets, musicians, and painters - I came to H.D. through Ezra Pound. The heaviness of his Cantos led me to place it down and pick up End to Torment. Her imagery, profound and hurting, spoke to me and I fell in love.

H.D. (stone):

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Patsy Cline

My Grandmother simultaneously introduced and reminded me of Patsy Cline.

There is no singer that could deliver heartbreak as gracefully as she did.
And then my Grams certainly knew heartbreak.

Patsy Cline (Beautiful and Defiant):

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stitched Portraits: John Cage

'One summer day, Merce Cunningham and I took eight children to Bear Mountain Park. The paths through the zoo were crowded. Some of the children ran ahead, while others fell behind. Every now and then we stopped, gathered all the children together, and counted them to make sure none had been lost. Since it was very hot and the children were getting difficult, we decided to buy them ice cream cones. This was done in shifts. While I stayed with some, Merce Cunningham took other, got them cones, and brought them back. I took the ones with cones. He took those without. Eventually all the children were supplied with ice cream. However, they got it all over their faces. So we went to a water fountain where people were lined up to get a drink, put the children in line, tried to keep them there, and waited our turn. Finally, I knelt beside the fountain. Merce Cunningham turned it on. Then I proceeded one by one to wash the children's faces. While I was doing this, a man behind us in line said rather loudly, "There's a washroom over there." I looked up at him quickly and said, "Where? And how did you know I was interested in mushrooms?"'

- John Cage (from Indeterminacy, 1958; reprinted in Silence, 1961)
(Below, joyful):


All three
Together for a truly

And, separately

A calmer

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Syd Hoff

The first book that I could ever read was Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff.

Hoff (the man) would have been 100 years old yesterday. He was known for his New Yorker cartoons and his easy to read books but also hosted a television show. An inspiring man...

Syd Hoff (with Danny's Dinosaur):

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I sometimes think that I could have done a full year of film directors...

Jeunet, along with Marc Caro, made one of my favorite films of all time with Delicatessen. A few years later, Jeunet focused his energy into one of the greatest films of all time - Amélie. I love him for that.

And I love him for his inventive quirkiness, his heart-wrenching ability to tell a story, and the use of Dominique Pinon in every single film...

Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("What'd YOU do?")

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stitched Portraits: George and Mike Kuchar

I've had to play catch-up on the portraits of the past few days because of a project that I had to really devote some time to, but I was too excited about the birthday that fell on August 31. For one, it is the first set of twins in the collection. And two, they are an amazing underground filmmaking sibling duo that have been making them since they received their first cameras at the age of 12. Friday would have been George's 70th birthday, but sadly he passed last year. Mike, however, is alive and teaching a filmmaking course at The Art Institute of San Francisco that his brother had previously taught for close to 40 years. Mike has graciously taken over for his brother.

Up until 1965, the brothers made films together, often with 8mm and 16mm film. However, when they began making pictures separately, they each made their best works:

George made Hold Me While I'm Naked in 1966.

Mike made Sins of the Fleshapoids in 1965 which majorly influenced John Waters, so thank you John, and thank you Mike.

Obsessions beget obsessions and become obsessions and more obsessions and if this project has taught me anything, it's that there are so many interesting people to find and it's worth all the digging.

George and Mike Kuchar (in the sixties, together, and happy)