“ As awful as it sounds, streets paved with broken glass and used rubbers and populated by hookers and crack heads are more artistically inspiring to me than OSH, Ikea and brand new retro-industrial lofts ”
John (sometimes known as Pynoman) is a local Bay Area artist who has shown with Eclectix a number of times. A skilled artist, graphic designer and comic illustrator, he is also a skilled musician, playing formerly with his band Psycotic Pineapple and today with The Deep. He has a fantastic wealth of gig posters he’s done over the years, as well as larger fine art silkscreens. Some of my favorite works are included in his two books, ( his journals of collected black and white doodles and drawings) – just chock full of wonderful characters, pineapples, curves, shapes and metamorphosis.
Can you tell us where you were born and a little history about your childhood?
I was born at Kaiser Hospital, Oakland CA. Raised in Berkeley, my father was a political science professor at UC Berkeley. As a child, I witnessed the birth of the “student demonstration” and the birth of Underground Comix.
Is there an event or experience that helped form who you are today?
I think that discovering underground comix at age 10 or 11 had a huge influence. Don’t want to open up a can of worms, but by that age I already knew I wanted to be an artist, but most of the important Modern Art at the time was pretty uninspiring to me. Discovering comix helped boost my ambition. Another influence was old animation, like Popeye and Betty Boop. Some of them stand to me as the greatest fine art of the 20th century.
Creative and modern. That to me is the real Pop Art, not Jasper Johns and Warhol. Made for the people, not the critics. Funny thing is, kids my age were fortunate in that the TV studios in the early 60s couldn’t afford to do enough new animation, so they just showed the old ones. If I was born ten years later, it would have been Scooby Doo, etc.
What was first piece of art that you remember creating?
I remember drawing a picture of a baseball game in kindergarten that my teacher was so impressed by that she made me go to the principal’s office to show it off. I think that was the only time I was ever sent to the principal’s office for anything “good”.
What inspired/prompted the vision/image for the most recent piece you completed?
I am in love with curves (above)
If there was an artist, dead or alive, that you could spend 24 hours with; who would it be and what would you do?
S. Clay Wilson
I have spent time with him, but 24 hours at once is probably too much. We would drink and draw.
What do you like most about his work?
His drawing ability, his storytelling and dialogue. His fearless audacity. He also impressed me with his development over the years. He got more “high end” without losing his original vision. Unlike some other artists. I have had a copy of a certain one of his drawings hanging above my drawing table since 1975.
What materials, specific brand of paint/glue/pencil do you prefer to use?
No. 2 pencil. Exacto #22 blade for scratchboard.
Is there a technique, procedure or tip that you have discovered, you could pass onto other artists?
Draw every day.
What is your favorite word? Last song you chose to listen to?
My favorite word is “the“.
The last song I chose to listen to is “Man of the World” by Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green).
If you could pick one piece of art to own, out of the world’s museums, personal collections and galleries, what would it be?
That’s hard to answer. I do remember being at a museum looking at bunch of “modern art” and there was Durer’s “Melancholia” engraving hanging in the middle of it all. (Durer was a major early influence on me) I wanted to rescue it. I would have slipped it under my shirt, but it was screwed to the wall.
Of all your works, what is your own personal favorite?
While there are some I’m NOT proud of, I don’t have any favorites. I’ll pick one out of the hat and say “San Pablo Serenade” (below).
What was the thought or vision behind the work and why is it your favorite? I wanted to expand my range in silkscreen printing, using multiple layers of transparent colors and extensive split-fountain work. The process taught me a lot about color, as I was changing the ink on almost every pull. 13 screens, double pulls on all of the background sky, about 200 sheets. It was inspired by the neighborhood I was living in at the time (North Oakland).
Because of the real estate boom at the time, there was a lot of “improvement” going on. Many of the old landmarks, signs, buildings etc. were being torn down. As awful as it sounds, streets paved with broken glass and used rubbers and populated by hookers and crack heads are more artistically inspiring to me than OSH, Ikea and brand new retro-industrial “lofts” (condos). At the time I had been thinking of going out and taking pictures of some of the local character. There was a liquor store called “Bottoms Up” that had a great logo, a silhouette of man with an afro tilting a bottle back. I used to drive by it almost every day. When I went out to get a shot of it, there nothing but a pile of dirt. I mean, I must have seen it standing only a day or two earlier. I did get some other good shots of San Pablo Avenue signage, including the 1902 Club with the drunken martini glass inside an amoeba. I did the “Bottoms Up” sign from memory. I did also actually see that hooker flashing while stuck in traffic on a hot afternoon.
You seem to have a thing for pineapples , how did this evolve?
Pineapples are prickly on the outside, sweet and tart on the inside, and hard at the core. They evoke images of palm trees and glorious sunsets, and hula girls. They inspired “Pineapple Upside Down Cake” for some reason. Hand grenades are sometimes referred to as pineapples. Our favorite episode of “The Untouchables” was called “A Taste for Pineapple”, about a World War One vet, an expert with grenades. Hired by mobsters as a specialist hit man. He’s a nerdy psycho, and a loose cannon. He tries to frag Eliot Ness, but only gets close. Ness however, loses his sight, even though there’s nothing wrong with him. Purely psychological.
According to legend, the origin of the name Psycotic Pineapple goes thusly: Jon Rubin and Tommy Dunbar (of the famous Rubinoos and original members of the Psycotic Pineapple) were on a long drive and started talking about the way some band names are made up, “adjective/noun” style. Like The Grateful Dead or Electric Prunes. So they played a word association game, say the first thing that comes to your head, and the other person says the first thing . Jon said “psychotic” and Tommy said “pineapple”. This was long before the band formed. In fact, the Psycotic Pineapple was originally called “Alfred Cooper”.
(This entry was originally posted on 1/4/11 )
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