Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Greg's Blog: good fruit


Reader(s) of the Week!

Dear Mr. Neri-

I recently began turoring a developmentally disabled 50+ yr old African-American man in Berkeley through a library literacy program. Plodding through dull workbooks, supposedly "relevant" to adult life, etc. Finally, seeing little progress and little joy after several weeks, I asked him what he was interested in. Frankly, I thought he would name a sport.

"I like chess" he said. He says he is teaching himself.Really? We took a field trip to the YA stacks and found Chess Rumble on the shelf. His eyes lit up.

So we are reading it together-first I read a few pages, we talk about the characters, family, anger--then he reads the same pages. He struggles, but he is incredibly motivated. His face lights up. He chuckles. He asks questions. It is slow going, but Reginald is inspired. So am I.

Maybe it was not what you intended-to create a story for a middle-aged White lady and her middle-aged black student to enjoy together in the back corner of a computer classroom. But you should know; had the hanky out today while reading (and finishing) the story... This book has changed the whole dynamic of our lessons.Bravo!

-Vicky Friedman

Link Up Links

This is Ben's art. No, not my brother Ben, the guy with the verizon-commercial-sized group of followers..

This is Ben Hodson, the FLY soul bruddah from another mother. His work is sick. His blogs are sick. His books are sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. (Now that's a whole lotta sick!)

Go see his blog here. Really very good artwork that I check out all the time for inspiration and for design lessons.

B, hope you don't mind the reposts. Peace

more music art

This last Saturday, set to a bunch of great of Bach and Vivaldi tunes, we did the second half of the Paint Jam workshop. This is what I came up with during the session. Again, no preconceived ideas about what we were going to do. Just blank slate and music on and away we go.

Here is my "Drunk Monk." A fun and fairly quick painting on a really big wood panel in acrylic. I think I will tinker with it a little more someday soon and show it with the other big music-inspired pieces. That means I will be out searching for inexpensive funky, big wood panels again soon too. If you know a source, let me know.

I see that the last three things I have painted have been saturated with oranges and yellows and reds. I guess I am an easily influenced guy. (Thanks, leaves, for the inspiration.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

music and art

Workshop went well today. I came to the class and told the students that I brought all my paint and brushes and blank surfaces, but purposefully left my intent completely blank. I had absolutely no idea of what I was gonna come up with. My goal was to have us be led by the music. All I know is that I turned it up, tuned in and melted far far away into a couple of paintings. The first was a short session, 30 minutes to the soundtrack of SAD, with artists like Damien Jurado, Zeppelin, The Smiths, Bowie, The Shins, Hendrix, etc.
I will probably work on this some more, so I am not gonna title it or anything. Just a study.

Next is a session lasting about an hour and fifteen minutes set to a very transcendent soundtrack of artists like People for Audio, Nujabes, Zero 7, Fuck Buttons, Mono, M83, Cinematic Orchestra, BMSR, etc... Good stuff for telling stories with pictures. I really like this piece. It is very similar to another I did on a huge piece of panel, so I think there may be a show of images like this one that I need to do. I am starting to hear the siren...

"All That's Left Now is Her Shadow"
acrylic on wood panel
~30" x 48"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

painting classes

...are going well. Smaller group so I can take us wherever we feel like going. Next week we begin a piece we will work on for the last three classes.

Anyway.... here are a few of my paintings from the work we have been doing in the Thursday night Acrylic class. I walk around and talk with people about their work, but I do get a few minutes to just paint myself. It is always great practice and I always look and find lots of stuff I could improve upon if I had the time to.

Last week was the pencil sharpener and this week is the dress form. The bottom one is my fav.

Next on the menu:
Paint Jam is this Sat and next Sat. It should be fun. A workshop on the effects of music on artwork. I am working on the playlist and there are lots of ways it could go. I don't know about you, but if I get caught in a vein of music too deep, I can get lost in painting for hours. days. Mugshot is a good example. Wonder what we will come up with on Saturday?

Friday, October 09, 2009


I have added a new section to my website:
Custom Portraits

Come see if you like. I put a few examples of portraits I have done for people in the past. 

Here is one I finished just tonight. 
Andy Mackie is a local musical legend who dedicates much of his life to sharing music with kids. At one of his recent music festivals, my boys and I had fun making strum sticks and talking with Andy. (Here is a story CBS Evening News did on Andy.) 

So, if you overhear friends wondering what they should get their parents or loved ones for Christmas or a wedding anniversary.... now you know what to tell them. Send them my way for some one of a kind heirloomage.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


In honor of Derrion Albert, I want to hold my sons extra close. Kiss and hug them. Make sure they know I love them. Give them the wisdom and strength to never be seduced by the MOB mentality. Give them whatever mental readiness and protection I can give them to never be caught up as victims of the MOB mentality. 

Lord have mercy.

How can you fight the MINDLESSNESS of a mob? How can you protect the youth from this?
How can you even defend yourself against this tide of emotion, of pent up hatred and bitterness? I have no idea. It depresses the hell out of me to say it, but I have no idea how to win this war. Helplessness is the ultimate fear, but instead of going the route of this society and just drowning that fear in materialism (iphones and rims and fancy new anything) or distraction (movies and video games and social networking) or even at the bottom of a bottle... I am just gonna sit here filled with fear and broken hearted. Let it soak in. Maybe then I wont forget it quite so soon. 

 And for any vultures waiting to prey upon the death of Derrion and use it in their jihad against a black president or against what they see as the loss of American values..... slow down. This pic is for you. Is this is the "golden era" of America - the one you are trying so hard to go back to?  

You recognize the glee in the eyes? 
Yeah, its the same look you might see in pictures or videos on the internet of troubled dirtbags beating up homeless people or in certain jaded, blood-lusting US soldiers throwing puppies of cliffs or randomly lobbing grenades into villages and herds of sheep as they drive by in their strykers or even of the group of elementary school kids when somebody calls, "FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!"

 It has, of course, nothing to do with skin color or region or religion or any other societal distinction. We have all seen the fire of rage and violence that spreads so quickly across the dry kindling of a population at the edge and most often suffering themselves. Germany. Chicago. Rwanda. South Central. Mississippi. 
This is a human problem without an easy answer. I would venture guesses at solutions but that is all they would be. 

All I know for sure is that the strongest stuff around is love. Much stronger that fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Much stronger than hate. Hate is often love let down. Much stronger than any other force on Earth. My daddy taught me that, both in word and in deed. So if you want to make a difference tomorrow, go love some people today. Love your kids. Love your parents. Love your friends. Love your neighbors. Try swapping the attitude for gratitude and help turn this society around. That means even loving your enemies. And that is where the real battle begins...