Absent but Still Here

I had a visit this weekend from Bay Area artist Les Phillips. We had great fun reminiscing about art and teaching, then he gently reminded me that it has been far too long since I have posted here. Hence, what follows below:

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Dreaming that I am awake, 1983, oil on canvas

For the past several months I have been in the final stages of editing/proofing the book about the Four Triptychs of the Nada Farm Museum of Archetypes (NFMOA) and preparing to put all of my attention on the completion of the website I am building to support the book, where I hope to also present comprehensive portfolios of my work in various media. It was in that latter pursuit that I came across a slide of the above painting, which I have not seen since the 1980s. It is in a private collection.

As soon as I saw the image I wanted to see it more. I created a large digital color print of it and am having it framed so I can enjoy it all the time. The above image will be in the “Paintings” portfolio of the new website – robertcomings.com.

This painting toys with the mind of the viewer, providing bits and pieces of recognizable parts of the human (?) face. Just as soon as we decide where its eyes, nose, mouth, ears are located, another way to read the image pops onto our internal screen as the first one dissolves. This is a way of working that permeates the Four Triptychs and a lot of other works I have created in different forms and different media. And is key to the way I work with decalcomania in any medium.

The title Dreaming that I am awake describes the psychic tension and elusive balance that the painting generates. That state of mind is my hometown.

I hope to get back to more regular posting here fairly soon. The book has been uploaded to the printer and should be available in about a month. I need to finish the website ASAP. I will be posting various works that catch my eye as I transform them into webfood. I am so eager to have the book and the website behind me.

 

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Ben Van Meter: Kickstarter Campaign runs until Sept. 1st, 2017

Rebirth of A Nation Kickstarter Campaign

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1966 San Francisco Trips Festival, San Francisco,

The time I spent as a member of the North American Ibis Alchemical Company was some of the most creative and exciting years of my life. Every weekend, often beginning on a Thursday night, a bunch of artists huddled in a special section of the mezzanine of the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco surrounded by carousel slide projectors, 8mm movie projectors, and the heart of the show: overhead projectors with glass clockface dishes for the color, water and oil. Until 2:00 AM, we would transform the ballroom into a multi-dimensional experience that was literally mind-blowing. I loved every minute of it. It was like performing visual jazz. We saw some amazing performers who provided the soundtrack.

That experience is celebrated and thoroughly discussed in Ben Van Meter’s book titled Rebirth of a Nation – A Summer of Love Tribute. Ben Van Meter (known to many as “Humble Ben”) enjoyed his “15 minutes of fame” in the 1960’s as an innovative experimental filmmaker and light show artist.

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Ben Van Meter, 1967

In the ensuing fifty years his films have been viewed in museums, film classes, screened at many special events, yet his light shows and hundreds of photographic slides he produced for the North American Ibis Alchemical Company shows have not been seen publicly since then. These photos have never been printed and available until now.

Rebirth of a Nation is a color photo book of Ben’s ”Curious Photographs” taken while immersed in the 60’s SF Scene. Included are his insightful anecdotal memoirs of his life and times then and there, the making of his “Odd Films” and the history of the North American Ibis Alchemical Company, a unique light show similar to an improvisational jazz combo. Van Meter’s essays defend his contention that: “The sixties in San Francisco weren’t just about sex and drugs and rock and roll.”

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The Human Be-In, January 14, 1967, San Francisco

Interviews with surviving artist members of his Light Show, The North American Ibis Alchemical Company (the house show at the Avalon Ballroom throughout the legendary Summer of Love 1967), are included in this unique book. The redoubtable Art Superstar Bruce Conner is also present in spirit through eight hand painted mandala slides which he produced for the Ibis.

View the Rebirth of A Nation campaign To access more high resolution images for publication email lilakevanmeter@gmail.com for a dropbox link.
Ben Van Meter, was a leading light of the Independent Film and Light Show 1960’s Scene. His “Odd Films and Curious Photographs” are unique documents of the social, artistic and spiritual awakening that transformed American culture. His book, “Rebirth of a Nation” is a window into the Spirit of the Era. The purpose of this Ben Van Meter Kickstarter Campaign is to bring his vision into focus for a modern audience.

There are several rewards packages depending on the level of your donation. Give what you can and help spread the word. For anyone who lived through those times or who has an interest in what happened in the sixties, this book will be a treasure.

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Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead at the Trips Festival

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Selfie in 1962 in Berlin, Germany

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Robert Comings Self-Portrait, age 22

This is how I spent most of my weekends during my military service in the 298th U.S. Army Band… walking around the city with a camera, taking lots of photos. I have often thought that the two years I spent doing that was a self-imposed course in composition, to the degree that I would many times take my camera for a walk even when I had no film. Whenever I composed an image and clicked the shutter I was depositing that unique arrangement of shape, value, texture, line, and color in my mental art vault.

I came across this image while putting the finishing touches on the self-published book I am building and thought it would be fun to post it here. Of the 1,000’s of photos I shot during my 3 years in the Army, this is the lone surviving print. No negatives survived.

I found this photo by accident when I was dismantling a framed collage by my late and wonderful friend John Keith Kessel. He had taken it from the “gift room” I maintained for several years to get rid of stuff I no longer wanted. He had used it to stiffen and fill the frame of his collage.

 

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Drawings – 32 WNW

This gallery contains 7 photos.

I am in the midst of having the old carriage house that was used as my personal museum completely emptied of 50 years worth of collecting assemblage supplies and all the art works from the walls and floor removed as well. Continue reading

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WNW Drawings – 31

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Hectic times around here lately. Continue reading

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DWN – 30 The Legacy of Ghostgirl’s Shadow #3

 

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The Legacy of Ghost Girl’s Shadow #3

I keep finding rich and fertile territory to explore with the assistance of GhostGirl’s Shadow. Had to share this one. It is all the imagemaking I have been able to do of late.

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Drawings Gallery 29

This gallery contains 10 photos.

This gallery contains a very diverse selection of work from the WN (White Noise) Journals. Continue reading

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