Thursday, December 31, 2009


2010 the year we make contact

As part of my eighth birthday celebration I wanted to go see "2010: The Year We Make Contact." I thought it was going to be like "Star Wars." It isn't at all like "Star Wars." Oh well. We went to Pizza Hut after the movie, so everything was all good.

Here's another "Contact" for you.
Happy New Year!

Contact - Phish - Alpine Valley, 8-10-1996

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. "
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss

the tree in whoville from how the grinch stole christmas

Monday, December 21, 2009

Erica Sheets - Featured Artist


“Come out of your houses even if it is difficult for you, do away with your individual isolation, let yourselves be possessed by the ideas of the working masses and help them in their struggle against a rotten society.”
-George Grosz, 1920

Broken Wheels

Fame, det.

Erica Sheets is an Oakland, California based multimedia artist whose work represents an update of German Socialist Realist work of the 1920’s and 30’s. Sheets blends historical and contemporary references to an effect that is profound, sobering, and visually striking.

Sheets makes a contemporary, American type of Tendenzkunst, or “tendentious art.” Tendenzkunst refers to a type of art being made in Germany after the first World War by such artists as George Grosz, Otto Dix, and John Heartfield, that addressed collective, social concerns as opposed to the personal abstractions of Dada, surrealism and expressionism.


A principle of Tendenzkunst is that any artwork not blatantly allied with social change, blatantly represents the dead weight of the status quo.

Much of Sheets’ work deals with issues of labor, class, culture, politics and social struggle. Frequently, her work examines the way that these issues are expressed in and by the body. The machinations of culture and politics maim and deform the proletariat and the bourgeoisie alike. In a work entitled “Fame,” Sheets presents an image of Angelina Jolie morphed with Mickey Mouse and laden with Oedipal associations. The eyes are plucked out, replaced with reflective surfaces, and radiating red string.

Fame, det.

Below, under a magnifying glass, is a small image of crippled rat inside of a matchbox.

“Fame” is an appropriate contemporary response to Otto Dix’s 1920 painting Der Streichholzhandler I (Match Seller I), which depicts a blind quadriplegic man seated on the sidewalk, selling matches as the bourgeoisie pass by above.

Sheets makes wise material choices in her work that raise the metaphorical value and befit the subject matter of each piece. Great mental gymnastics are not required to read red string as analogous to veins or rivulets of blood.

M-2, M-3

In Sheets’ paintings “M-2” and “M-3,” which bear images derived from posters urging factory safety, the point is symbolically made by red blood staining yellow skin.

The artwork of Erica Sheets skillfully emphasizes the collective over the individual, social consciousness over narcissistic preoccupation, and practicality over oblique ambiguity. She reminds that art has the power to be at once direct and poetic.

Erica Sheets is co-director of the Basement Gallery in Oakland, California.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

“Do Yourself a Favor…”

If you like Daniel Johnston, you will like this video of two kids on the street in Brussels (I guess) singing Daniel Johnston’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances,” complete with mispronunciation of “grievances.”

If you don’t like Daniel Johnston, this won’t mean much to you.

But, if you do like Daniel Johnston, and you watch the video, be sure to stick around until the end for a cool surprise. Also, you’ll have to turn the volume up a little.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Juan Miguel Santiago - Featured Artist

At Peace With Others

Juan Miguel Santiago is a sculptor based in Oakland, California. Santiago’s ceramic figures, like religious idols rescued from the “House of Wax” just as the flames began to rise, combine religious and cultural associations to an effect that is eerie, attractive and personal.

Some of Santiago’s sculptures resemble religious idols, such as statuary of the Buddha or the Madonna. This resemblance traffics in associations of worship, reverence and ritual, which Santiago handles with an individual stance. His idols appear to be in a suspended state of melting, or covered in ghostly layers of whitewash. Any type of idol is covered with layers of references, associations, histories and superstitions. Such narratives adorn and comprise religions and art worlds. That which seems to cover the features of one of Santiago’s idols is the idol itself.

Invisible Immigrants

From St. Peter’s Basilica to the Rothko Chapel, art and religion depend, now and then, upon the ability of an artist to manipulate the material of the physical world to the point of describing some quality or condition of a metaphysical realm. Culture selects which physical stuff will become the language of metaphysical realms. Complexity can be gained when individuals choose that stuff for themselves.


In a work entitled “False Idols…Obscure Objects,” multiple figures of Ultraman, each approximately 20 inches high, appear to battle one another on the gallery floor. Ultraman is a Japanese television character from the late 1960’s. Appropriately, Ultraman is only able to spend a few minutes on Earth at a time, lest he die.

Burmese Idol

As in the work of Katharina Fritsch, the formal devices of repetition, color and scale complicate the classification of Santiago’s Ultraman idols. Certainly this work says more about the artist, and art in general, than it says about Ultraman specifically.

Much of the power of Juan Miguel Santiago’s work is the elegant way in which it reminds that any type of idol is a physical material dependent upon context found in an array of narratives, from the Old Testament to obscure television shows, for meaning and relevance.

Juan Miguel Santiago teaches ceramic art at Chabot College in Hayward, California. He recently curated an exhibition at the Basement Gallery in Oakland, California. See more of his work here:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, and We’re Not Jiving

Happy Thanksgiving Charlie Brown
This year has been a disorienting whirlwind for us, but it’s been great. Like Snoop says: “Ups and downs, smiles and frowns.” There have been way more ups than downs and we have a bunch of folks to thank for that.
We are truly thankful for all the new and old friends that we have. We want to say thank you for all the love, support, encouragement, inspiration and blinding brilliance these people have so generously given us this year. Here they are, in no particular order, the coolest, most gifted group of people ever:

Justin Romito
Bryan Jones
Melanie Phillips
Marty Vaughn
Skip Vaughn
Bees' Family
Erik Groff
Erica Sheets
Ben Pederson
Humphrey Bilger
Justin Horne
Randall Friedman
Paola Nazati
Paul Celentano
Liz Scott
Danny Heller
Daniel Hipolito
Brandi Strickland
Jen Zahigian
Tracy Jager
Allison Newton-Durham
The nice guy from Chattanooga who sat beside us at the Phish show in Knoxville

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mutual Admiration Society

Imagine my surprise when trawling the internet I came upon this:
Irises - Keith Vaughn
And this:
The Last of the Jesus Acid - Keith Vaughn

on The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Myspace blog. I have no idea how these guys found me, but I’m way flattered. If you are unfamiliar with The Brain Jonestown Massacre don’t admit it to anyone, and check this out:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Norman Mingo, the Manet of MAD Magazine, (or MAD for Modernism)


Norman Mingo

Norman Mingo is one of my favorite painters. His work has a lot in common with that of Edoaurd Manet, another favorite. Both Manet and Mingo convey much about their subjects by depicting them with only a few specific details, the backgrounds are minimal and flat.

Edouard Manet, Dead Toreador, 1863

Manet’s work depicts styles and attitudes at the cusp of the twentieth century. His technique basically founded Modern painting.

Mingo’s work pretty much just uses a lot of visual puns to attract kids to spend their allowances, and remind us that Alfred E. Newman is an idiot born under a bad sign.

Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863

Manet employs his fair share of visual puns too. All those cats, flowers, and fish, aren’t fooling around. They represent exactly what you think they do. And, certainly it’s not missing the point to think that “Dejeuner sur l herbe” is sort of funny. It’s at least uncommon, even now, in it’s balance of technical merit and raunchy sense of the absurd.

Edouard Manet, Dejeuner sur l'herbe, 1863

Norman Mingo

Norman Mingo’s MAD Magazine covers have a way more obvious context in the Saturday Evening Post covers of Norman Rockwell. Both artists use narrative to convey a certain attitude and cultural position. Reading Mingo’s work as parody of the mainstream manners of the Saturday Evening Post, (except when it’s blatantly a parody), while accurate, feels reductive.

The way Manet and Mingo deal with comedy is similar.

Norman Mingo

They both have a fondness for lowbrow jokiness, which makes sense in both cases. Manet is only funny sometimes; most of his work isn’t funny at all. Manet and Mingo depict their subjects in strange world’s of their own, worlds that have their own physical laws yet are superficially similar to ours in the fine details. The subjects are presented in odd, stagey circumstances, and frequently they regard the viewer with an attitude of bemused nonchalance. “What, me worry?”

Norman Mingo

Edouard Manet, The Ragpicker

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to Work

Jeff lynne
I'm not usually a "greatest hits" guy, but I am a liner notes guy. Today I was reading the liner notes of "All Over the World-The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra," and I came upon this bit of wisdom from Jeff Lynne:

"I had a lot of responsibility and it could get intense. But a good kickabout down the road would clear my head. Then, let's get overdubbing."

A kickabout for me and a kickabout for Jeff Lynne are likely to be two different things, but mine is no less good.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Even Dracula will be there."

halloween tricks or treats

Happy Halloween! Bees and I plan to spend Halloween about like we always do. We'll give out candy, watch a scary movie and perform blood rites. In the way of tricks-and-treats, we have this to offer you: "It's Halloween" by the Shaggs. It's our favorite Halloween song. The Shaggs are a group that Frank Zappa allegedly liked "better than the Beatles." And if that's not a legitimate claim to credibility, nothing is.

It's Halloween - The Shaggs

The Shaggs

The Shaggs

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Means Big Business for Trees

In case you thought it was only the Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead that keeps the B&T Ranch rocking, I’ve been pummeling my brain each morning with the monstrous riffage of Big Business. See, each October I get real excited about Halloween, and Big Business. The two go hand in hand for me. Maybe it’s the shortened autumn days, with everything dying outside that fit so perfectly with all the lyrics about barren earth and grave digging. Whatever it is, my mind was totally blown when I found this video that marries the Big Business tune “Focus Pocus” and the 1920 film “Der Golem” in a wry, Halloween PSA flavored ceremony. Take heed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daniel Hipolito - Featured Artist

Please Click Images To Enlarge

Daniel Hipolito

Daniel Hipolito
Daniel Hipolito is an Austin, Texas based artist who makes achromatic work that draws on a variety of cultural reference points, and spans the scale of intimate drawings to protracted murals. His work brings hand made technique to the aesthetic of photography and mechanical reproduction methods. Hipolito’s work is photo-based realism that can be abstract and obscure, creating and an area between representation and abstraction, transparency and conspiracy.

Many of Hipolito’s compositions display multiple images with individual narratives, separated by a hard edge, on one picture plain. The sharp, total contrast of Hipolito’s work has an aggressive visual edge akin to the graphic design associated with the mediated occultism of certain types of punk, hardcore and heavy metal music.

Hipolito’s work implies enigmatic narratives, as it resembles frames of a graphic novel, or a page of photojournalism, forms of media that often depict crime and terror in achromatic panels. Similar to the effect of crime scene photography, the mundane is transformed into mystery and menace.

The southern California locations depicted link Hipolito’s work to the grim existentialism of Los Angeles noir. His work also finds existential forbearance in the abstract expressionist paintings, and direct, minimal approach to materials, of Franz Kline. Like L.A. based John Baldessari, Hipolito combines images in a way that elicits new associations and confounds conclusion.

See more of Daniel Hipolito’s here: Daniel Hipolito

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Be Here Now

Bees And Trees on Etsy
Bees and Trees

necklush on Etsy

Bees and Trees were just recently featured on a cool tumblr blog called buythisnow. It's run by Troy and Stephano of the oh so rad necklush.

They make these amazing scarves. --->

Tracy Jager on Bees and Trees
Tracy jager

Brandi Strickland on Bees and Trees
Brandi Strickland

Also featured were a couple of Bees and Trees' personal favorites Brandi Strickland aka Paperwhistle and Tracy Jager of Living Feral. Check it out!
buythisnow on tumblr

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Secrets of the Magicians Revealed

painting in progress

Concert Poster
I photographed my most recent oil painting as it progressed. I thought it would be cool to chronicle the painting’s development. I’ve never painted a landscape in oil in quite this way, but this method of painting some colorful, abstract stuff and then painting a landscape over the top, is something I’ve done in gouache a few times. This painting is part of a group of new work combining two painted languages. This work refers to Romantic trends, and themes of transcendence in visual art from the mid 19th and the mid 20th century. It keeps me off the street.

Albert Bierstadt

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Get Paid

I recently scored a gig writing some articles about skateboarding. So, since skateboarding has been on my mind I thought I’d share one of the coolest skateboarding videos I’ve seen in a long, long time (pun intended, you’ll see…). Chris Long is a young skater getting radical in my hometown of Chattanooga, TN. He’s got an awesome style and this video looks great. Dirty south DIY to the max.

For a taste of old school flav’ check out Skateboard Kings, a cool 1978 documentary with a stupid name featuring Tony Alva and some of those other Dogtown guys.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Justin Horne - Featured Artist

Justin Horne is a multi-media artist in NYC. For Horne, the practice of art making never stops and is not bound by the studio. With an extraordinary eye for color and form, he finds beauty in the mundane. Horne’s photographs, as well as his paintings, sculptures and installations, display formal and minimal elegance. His work exudes warmth, positivity and a sense of wonder for aspects of the urban environment that are typically taken for granted and ignored.

In lieu of our usual Artist Feature we asked Justin Horne to do an exclusive photo essay for BeesAndTrees. What he provided surpassed our expectations and exemplifies his uncanny knack for recognizing and extracting beauty from the most unlikely places.

“Street and Sidewalk”
A photo essay by Justin Horne
These images are excerpts from a series of photographic works documenting the flotsam and jetsam that flows throughout the pavement surfaces of New York City.

Please Click images to enlarge.



Extension Cord

Curb Monster


Super Specials

Coat hanger

Leaf Cap

Paper Plate Moon


“The most powerful works of art for me are ones that inspire a visual and visceral experience. The work is an event, as well as a conduit to a greater process. Hopefully my work can offer an intimate discovery for an individual by relying on their imagination as they encounter it. My work proposes the possibility for some world other than the one we experience. I strive to illustrate the concept of potential, in its most general sense. By utilizing either what is salient, or what may seem intangible, or positing what could be. Potential is the agent to the mystery that keeps a plot rich and rolling. What harnesses potential could very well be a foundation for the next revelation.”
--Justin Horne
Brooklyn, NY

See more of Justin Horne’s work here:
Phillips Art Expert
Sparkling Fresh Art